High tech new Audi

A4 hits the streets

Audi A4 Two cars
Audi A4 Side
Audi A4 Rear Action
Audi A4 Front Action
Audi A4 Front
Audi A4 Front Action 2
Audi A4 Interior 2

AS the latest generation of the A4 goes on sale, Audi is making a fuss about all the technology their new model brings to market.

Some of it is useful, like being able to connect both your work and your personal phone to the hands-free system at the same time.

Some of it is entertaining, like being able to view and use some of your phone apps on the dashboard screen (only those that don't interfere with driving, though, so no YouTube or Candy Crush).

And some of it, just a few years ago, would have had Audi's software engineers burned at the stake for witchcraft (although no comment here about what fate may yet befall their colleagues at VW).

For example, besides some of the now commonplace driver aids like lane departure alerts, the A4 offers the remarkable Stop&Go adaptive cruise control, that will effectively drive the car for you, steering and all, in slow-moving traffic - it's as near to a driverless car as legislation will allow and hugely impressive.

It can even react to obstructions in your lane, such as a broken-down vehicle, and traffic merging from behind.

More mundane, but no less clever, is what Audi call 'predictive efficiency'. The sat nav uses its knowledge of the route ahead to alert you to places where you can back off the gas and save fuel, and can also take over predictive control of the free-wheeling function of the auto box.

Fortunately, the amount of focus given to all this tech hasn't resulted in other aspects of the car being ignored.

This is a much better car to drive than the outgoing model, sure-footed and comfortable in 2.0-litre TDI, non-quattro guise - the model most people will buy.

With 190ps on tap through a seven-speed S-tronic box, the car isn't lacking in urge, mainly thanks to 400NM of torque, and will hit 62mph in 7.7 seconds, on to a top speed of nearly 150mph.

We drove the car in torrential rain on some often unpredictable country roads and it never put a foot wrong. The windscreen wipers are good too.

Externally, as is Audi's way, the car doesn't look that much different from the old one - although new construction techniques mean the car has sharper edges that help it to class-leading levels of aerodynamic efficiency. It makes for a quieter ride as well.

Overall, the car is up to 110kg lighter and up to 21% more fuel efficient than its predecessor. Claimed fuel consumption for the 2.0 TDI is 65-67mpg on the combined cycle.

Inside, the A4 is superb. The dashboard sweeps elegantly into the virtual cockpit system first seen in the TT, and the fit and finish of materials are better than ever. This is a really nice cabin to spend time in, either as driver or passenger.

The order book for the A4 has been open for some time but the first right hand drive models won't reach customers till the end of November.

Prices start at £29,150 on the road for the 2.0TDI Ultra (150ps), £34,030 for the 2.0TDI (190ps) and £38,950 for the 3.0 V6 TDI quattro (272ps).

As with any car in this segment, you can spec the A4 up until the price goes through the roof, but budget for spending at least £3-4,000 on the most worthwhile extras.

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