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Used car review Audi A4 2008-2009

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    Overall the A4 is a sound vehicle and not one to give serious trouble.

Graham 'Smithy' Smith reviews the used Audi A4 2008-2009: its fine points, flaws and what to watch for when buying it.

If you want to succeed in the prestige car business in this country you need to field a competitive mid-sized model. BMW gets by on the back of its 3-Series, 'Benz depends on its C-Class, and Audi its A4, so when it comes time to renew these models there's an understandable level of nervousness among executives of the respective companies.

It was the turn of the Audi execs to feel the heat when the company revealed its new A4 in 2008. The company had established the credibility of the A4 over previous generations, but knew the on-going success of the brand depended heavily on the eighth generation model. The previous generation fell somewhere between the BMW and 'Benz. It didn't handle as well as the 3-Series and wasn't as comfy as the C-Class, but the B8 A4 was improved on most fronts, which was needed to keep pace with the competition.

Unlike its rivals the Audi is predominantly front-wheel drive with some premium four-wheel drive models. There was quite a selection of petrol and diesel engines, ranging from a 1.8-litre direct injection turbo four boasting 118 kW and 250 Nm to a 3.2-litre V6 petrol with 195 kW and 330 Nm powering the range-  topping four-wheel driver.

The base four came standard with a six-speed manual; the diesels were hooked up to a CVT, and the 3.2 V6 to a dual-clutch auto. With its engine moved back a little and the steering rack shunted forward the A4's handling was improved, although it was still not quite in the 3-Series league.

The ride was also found to be a little too hard for the class, especially when stacked up against the C-Class. Inside, the cabin was well fitted out and nicely refined, with little road or wind noise to upset the inner peace. The seats were comfortable and supportive, and there was plenty of head and legroom for those in the front and the back.

As befits a car in it class the A4 came with a decent list of gear, like climate-control air, auto headlights and wipers, leather trim, fog lights, alloy wheels, 6.5-inch colour info screen and a split-  fold rear seat.

IN THE SHOP

The eighth gen A4 is relatively new to the market, so there's little to report in the way of niggles or serious flaws. Right now it's important to find a car that has been well cared for and serviced according to the book.

Most on sale will be fresh out of a lease so should have been maintained, but check for a service record anyway. Oil changes are important with modern engines so make sure the oil and filter have been replaced at the correct intervals.

VW and Audi engines tend to consume a little oil, which makes it important to keep an eye on the oil level at regular intervals. The oil usage is minor and not an issue, but it has caught some people out before when they never bother to lift the bonnet. Make the usual checks for panel damage, that's poor panel alignment and mismatched paint etc.

Overall the A4 is a sound vehicle and not one to give serious trouble.

IN A CRASH

Five stars says it all, there's no higher rating available. To get the top tick of approval the A4 had eight airbags, ABS brakes, traction control and stability control.

UNDER THE PUMP

The choice of petrol and diesel engines gives buyers plenty of choice when it comes to fuel consumption. The best of the bunch is the 2.0-litre turbo-diesel at 5.8 L./100 km; the thirstiest is the 3.2-litre V6 that Audi claimed would do 9.0 L/  100 km. All petrol engines required 95-octane premium unleaded fuel.

AT A GLANCE

Price new: $50,900 to $88,500
Engine: 1.8-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder petrol, 118 kW/250 Nm; 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbodiesel, 105 kW/320 Nm; 2.7-litre V6 turbodiesel, 140 kW/400 Nm; 3.2-litre V6, 195 kW/330 Nm
Transmission: 6-speed manual, 8-speed auto, 6-speed auto. FWD and AWD
Economy: 7.2 L/100 km (1.8 TFSI), 5.8 L/100 km (2.0 TDI), 6.9 (2.7 TDI), 9.0 L./100 km (3.2 V6 Q), 7.4 L/100 km (2.0 TDI Q), 6.9 L/100 km (3.0 TDI Q)
Body: 4-door sedan, 4-door wagon
Variants: 1.8TFSI, 2.0TDI, 2.7TDI, 3.2-litre FSI Quattro, 2.0 TDI Quattro, 3.0 TDI Quattro
Safety: 5-star ANCAP.

EXPECT TO PAY

$30,000 to $37,000 for the 1.8 TFSI sedan, $31,500 to $40,000 for the 2.0 TDI sedan, $51,500 to $48,500 for the 2.7 TDI sedan, $52,500 to $67,500 for the 3.2 Quattro sedan, $42,000 to $52,500 for the 2.0 TDI Quattro sedan, $51,500 to $64,000 for the 3.0 TDO Quattro sedan. Add $1500 for the wagon.

VERDICT

Not as sporty as the 3-Series, not as comfortable as the C-Class, the A4 fits somewhere in between. Worthy of a look.

RATING

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  • Improved steering
  • Smooth engines
  • Roomy and refined cabin
  • Bland looks
  • CVT transmission lag

ALSO CONSIDER

  • BMW 3 Series 2008-2009: Serial class leader with heaps of badge cred, rear-wheel drive feel and smooth engines. Hard to beat. Pay $35,000-$47,500. 4 stars.
  • Mercedes-Benz C-Class: The smooth operator is the best blend of performance and comfort. Great for impressing the neighbours. Pay $32,500-$58,500. 4 stars.
  • Lexus IS250: Clunky looks detract from great driving experience and top build quality. Not much badge appeal. Pay $30,500-$50,500. 3.5 stars.

Comments on this story

Displaying 2 of 2 comments

  • For buyers who aren't blinded by the supposed driving talent of the BMW and the Comfort of the C-Class, I suggest you read what a buyer who considered both cars before buying his A4 took into account. The BMW has a very good steering feel and handling but rides harsh on run-flats. It has a small boot and limited legroom compared to the A4. The base 320 has no guts to its engine and the interior is bland with poor plastics. As for the C-Class, the look of the 2008 C180 is very old school. It has the same small dimensions as the BMW and is slightly less harsh on bumps as the BMW. The engine is on par with the A4 for power and performance due to its supercharging. As for the blandness this journo talks about with the A4, give me a break ... out of the current 3, C-Class and A4, the A4 wins hands down on looks, the design will easily outlast the 3 Series which is dated and even more so the C-Class. Wheels Magazine rated all 3 cars with the A4 marginally losing out to the C-Class based on minor driving dynamics but both out-classed the 3 Series. Maybe the latest 3 Series out this month will address the poor size packaging of the previous. To say the A4 is below the 3 Series is a joke.

    Vin of Sydney Posted on 17 February 2012 3:04pm
  • A little surprised that you say the 3-series is a serial class leader, when if you look at the leading motoring awards for the past 6 or 7 years in this class, its been either the A4, the C-class or the IS that have won. The 3-series is rarely seen as a winner in the entry-level prestige class as the 3-series is only worthwhile if you pay the $10k+ premium and get the 6-cyl donk.(eg. 325i). The standard 4-cyl in the entry-level 320i is lame. Then there's the run-flat issue as well. IMO, only two worth considering in this class - the C-class and the IS. Both RWD, both with the most kit as standard, the two best built and the two with the best ride..... and btw, yes I've driven all 4.

    DJCJ of Melbourne Posted on 12 February 2012 10:50pm

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