Jaguar XE 2016 review
Ewan Kennedy road tests and reviews the Jaguar XE with specs, fuel consumption and verdict at its Australian launch.
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There's much to like about the A4 as it takes the sales battle to German rivals. It's safe in the city and comfortable in the 'burbs.
Medium sedans are a happy hunting ground for luxury brands in Australia. It's one of the few markets where the Germans outsell the mainstream Japanese makes.
The reason for their surge in popularity is simple. Led initially by Mercedes-Benz, they have slashed their margins and placed themselves within reach of the common people.
The new Audi A4 range starts at $55,000 on the button for the 1.4-litre turbo, but we've selected the next model up, the 2.0 turbo that starts at $60,900.
Evolution is the name of the game here. The changes from the previous model are subtle: a more angular front end, sharper creases and different headlight treatments. Audi hasn't dared to be different.
Inside, the changes are more marked. A tablet-style centre screen sits proud on the dash, the general feel is more polished and hi-tech and a digital readout between the speedo and tacho displays music choices and satnav maps.
For an extra $1900, you can get Audi's "virtual cockpit", which replaces the analog speedo and tacho with a 12-inch LCD monitor displaying all the readouts digitally. It gets a 10 for wow factor.
The A4 can lay claim to being the most city-friendly car on the market
Elsewhere, the cabin is well finished and practical if lacking a little flair. There are some deft touches, though, including a large covered storage bin next to the steering wheel on the driver's side that will easily hold a phone and wallet or purse. Rear legroom is good and the boot is a decent size.
The A4 can lay claim to being the most city-friendly car on the market, thanks to a dazzling array of technology, some of which is standard.
At suburban speeds it can slam on the brakes automatically if it senses an imminent collision with another vehicle or a pedestrian. It will also warn if an occupant is about to open the door on a cyclist, or back out of a parking spot into the path of another car.
It doesn't stop there, either. It can warn following cars if it senses they are at risk of running into the back of the A4 and it has a blind spot monitor as well. It also has a traffic jam assistant that can accelerate, steer and brake to keep a safe distance from the car ahead.
Satnav is standard and can overlay Google maps, so you get an overhead photographic image of the area you're trying to navigate. Connect a smartphone and the centre console will display common apps.
Digital radio is another tasty addition for the daily commute and there's a hands-free boot opening function that works with a wave of the foot under the rear of the car.
The turbo petrol engine is lively once it is up and running. There's a little lag when you first hit the accelerator, which is occasionally made worse by the dual-clutch transmission hesitating before finding a gear.
The A4 feels more competent than engaging
Otherwise it's quiet and refined, with fuel consumption in heavy traffic hovering in the early teens.
The A4 rides comfortably for the most part, with some jarring over sharper imperfections in the road surface.
On the freeway, there's another array of safety gear to keep you on the black stuff, although this time it costs extra.
For $1900 you get active cruise control that includes the traffic jam assistant, lane departure warning with steering assistance and high-beam assist, which illuminates the road ahead without dazzling oncoming drivers.
As for the driving experience, the A4 feels more competent than engaging.
It steers accurately, sits flat through corners and soaks up B-road bumps without getting flustered. However, it lacks the steering feel and dynamic ability of the rival BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz.
It's not a big black mark, though, and it's balanced by the fact that the engine-transmission combination is superior to those German rivals. It has more power and torque but uses less fuel — an impressive claimed average of 5.3L/100km.
The cabin is quiet at freeway speeds but the tyres can rumble on less than perfect surfaces.
There's much to like. The Audi delivers class-leading safety technology at a sharp price and the engine is willing and refined. It's not a slam dunk, though. The 3 Series still has the edge on the road and the C-Class cabin feels more upmarket.
A stack of active safety features, choice of drive modes, start-stop, foot-operated boot release, leather appointed seats, tri-zone aircon, satnav, Wi-fi hotspot, smartphone interface.
Full-size spare. Auto parallel parking. Adaptive cruise, lane departure warning and Audi's nifty digital instrument panel are all optional.
Audi's three-year/unlimited km warranty is on par with the Germans but has a year less coverage than Lexus. Roadside assistance applies for the warranty period and you can buy additional warranty coverage for up to seven years. Capped price servicing is on the high side.
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