The 2019 Isle of Man TT Senior winner loves big engines and old vans. Good lad
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What’s this, then? Audi’s new A4 saloon, with a £50,000-plus price tag. Wooah. And it’s not the S4? It’s not. The 350bhp V6 turbo S4 Quattro isn’t until next year. This is the 3.0 TDI Quattro. It has a 272bhp V6 diesel engine, an eight-speed transmission and four-wheel-drive. Available only in top-end S-Line trim, it lists at £38,950. But the one I’m driving has enough options and packs to take it well beyond the half-century. Is it worth the money?
Well, it’s a good car. We’ve covered the fundamentals in other reports about the 2.0 diesels. It’s a largely new lightweight platform, running uprated engines, with an even better-made cabin and lots of connectivity. But most of all, the A4 feels solid and very, very refined. In other words, it feels pricey. It’s preferable to the duller A6, unless you really need every millimetre of the A6’s space. Is it just a quicker version of the 2.0TDI? No. For a start it’s not just quicker, but much quicker. This is the higher-power of two 3.0TDIs in the A4 range, and gets to 62mph in 5.3 seconds without any fuss or scrabbling at all. But also it feels a bit more connected and involving to steer than the two-litre diesels. Not at Jaguar XE levels, mind, but definitely more than the basic A4. Maybe it’s the sport chassis and (£600) adaptive dampers, maybe the effect of sending more than half the torque to the back wheels, but the steering feels more alive. It might even be the (£950) adaptive steering that was fitted to the test car, though experience teaches me to rule that out. Maybe it’s the (£1200) 19-inch wheelset. And despite the wide tyres, there’s none of the tramlining and front-end shuffle you get when you aim a 3-Series down a straight but bumpy road.
Does it trade refinement for sportiness? Nope, the new A4’s quietness is intact. The V6 engine whispers away most of the time, but actually takes on a bit of a saucy rasp as it gives its all. Despite the big tyres, road and suspension noise stays well muffled. And keeping the dampers in ‘auto’ not ‘sport’, I also got a pretty pleasing ride over some testingly lumpen Cotswold terrain. Meanwhile wind noise is near-absent even at near-silly speed. Still, 50 grand? Do you really need all those options? Well let’s start from the bottom. Even the most basic A4s now have a decent colour screen and a connection to CarPlay andAndroid Auto, so you can use your phone’s navigation. And xenons and 3-zone climate and rear park sensors. You need add only £950 for Sport spec to get proper built-in navigation, sports seats a better sound system and ambient cabin lights. Who wouldn’t? Then comes the extra £1500 for S-Line, which is LED headlights, 18-inch wheels, different cabin trim and a body kit. And remember, this 3.0 TDI Quattro includes S-Line. So do I need the options above that? It’s £1250 extra for the ‘light and vision’ pack, which brings the super-spangly items that Audi makes most fuss of – the virtual cockpit dials and the adaptive matrix LED headlights. Given that you already have a centre-console screen, I find the virtual cockpit a bit of an overkill. The standard dials are beautifully wrought and a bit larger. Save cash and go for the wonderful matrix LEDs alone at £650. Ignore the B&O stereo as it’s tiringly harsh. Sunroof? Naah. Five different levels of park assist option? Come on. If you drive in cities there’s a handy self-driving option. Really, it controls speed, traffic following and steering up to 37mph. For higher speeds it also has radar cruise and lane assistance, and side blind spot warning. All very well, but to get it you have to bundle in a whole lot of other options. Totalling £3245. If you have an empty afternoon stretching before you, why not spend it getting lost in the bowels of the Audi configurator? Because it’ll make your head spin, that’s why not…
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