RAC Cars News

#WeLoveCars

Used Audi A4 Buying Guide

By raccars Published

The Audi A4 was a breakthrough car for the firm: today it makes a great used buy.

What is the Audi A4?

The Audi A4 is the car that helped Audi break through into the huge, sophisticated firm it is today. First launched in 1994, it transformed Audi design and showed the world it was finally a viable alternative to BMW. Today, with annual sales of 1.5 million cars and growing fast, it’s not looked back.

Offered in saloon and Avant estate guise (there used to be a Cabriolet before it was replaced by the A4-based Audi A5 in 2007), the A4 is famed for offering a huge array of engines, trims and options – even a choice of front-wheel drive or quattro four-wheel drive. Buying a used one thus demands preparation.

Here’s how you can figure out which Audi A4 is for you, and how you can get a good one…

Five rivals to the Audi A4

  • BMW 3 Series – the class benchmark with great handling, excellent engines and a solid interior.
  • Mercedes-Benz C-Class – modern and classy mini-Merc that feels as tough and robust as the larger ones
  • Saab 9-3 – aged Swedish rival from now-defunct firm, but low prices and economical diesels mean it’s still worth a look
  • Lexus IS – Japanese alternative to the German best-sellers is a leftfield alternative
  • Volvo S60 – Volvo’s almost-exec car; the S60 is good and able but can’t quite match the Germans for class

How to buy a 2008-on used Audi A4

The third generation Audi A4 is the most convincing alternative yet to the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Carrying styling cues from the firm’s larger models from launch in late 2007, it finally came of age.

An extensive range of engines and a well-judged trim line-up mean there’s something to suit everyone: as most in this sector choose diesel, Audi sensibly offered a full suite of diesels to cover performance bases from 120hp to 245hp.

Audi’s unique offer of quattro all-wheel drive as an alternative to regular front-wheel drive models also won favour from buyers, particularly during the wintry weather Britain now frequently suffers.

It’s not quite as sharp to drive as a BMW 3 Series but the A4 is as grown up and refined as a C-Class Mercedes, and feels just as solidly well built. This is a car that’s built for the long run and soaks up high mileages with ease.

The interior is a class act too, with excellent build quality and, again, a feeling of real substance. The rear isn’t quite as spacious as it could be but it’s still OK, and the extra practicality of the Avant estate helps out those for whom a saloon isn’t practical enough.

Most importantly, the Audi A4 feels a cut above – even today. Exceptional build quality means even an early bargain-priced motor will make you feel good. Read on, to discover how to get the right one for you.

How to work out the model range

The most affordable trim line: SE
The sportiest trim line: RS 4
The most appealing trim line: S line
The most common trim: SE
The most common engine: 2.0 TDI

Audi A4 model history

1994-2001: first generation
Facelifted: 1997

2000-2008: second generation
Facelifted: 2004

2008-date: third generation (current)
Facelifted: 2012

What to check on a used Audi A4

Check you’re getting the right engine: same-size motors with different power outputs means it’s worth getting a look at the registration document (or running a registration number check)

Oddly, S line models can’t be fitted with mudflaps – it’s thus worth checking for stonechips on the lower half of the body

If you’re paying for sat nav, make sure it’s fitted: all A4 use the same controls so even models without navigation carry sat nav buttons and controls…

Three great models from the 2008-on Audi A4 range

Model: 1.8 TFSI 160 SE
Introduced: September 2007

Why: It’s a great entry-level Audi A4. Although the 120hp version of this 1.8-litre engine is around £500 cheaper, the extra spent on the 160hp motor is well worth it. Performance is significantly better but economy and CO2 emissions are no different. SE is around £1000 cheaper than S line trim.

Model: 2.0 TDI 177 S line
Introduced: January 2012

Why: Perfect marriage of performance and economy. Audi offers the 2.0-litre TDI engine in various guises but the most impressive is the punchy 177hp version. Match it with lowered, big-wheel’d S line trim for a convincing swift sports saloon that can also return 50mpg.

Model: 3.0 TDI 245 quattro Black Edition
Introduced: January 2011

Why: The premium-feel range-topper. Black Edition A4 are the most appealing, because they add so many desirable extras to S line trim. The creamy 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel is impressive too and quattro four-wheel drive makes it the perfect all year round all-rounder.

Trim line-up: 2008-on used Audi A4

SE
SE Technik
S line
Black Edition
S4
RS 4

Engine line-up: 2008-on used Audi A4

1.8 TFSI 120
1.8 TFSI 160
1.8 TFSI 170
2.0 TFSI 211
2.0 TFSI 225
3.0 TFSI 333
3.2 FSI 265
4.2 V8 450
2.0 TDI 120
2.0 TDIe 136
2.0 TDI 143
2.0 TDIe 163
2.0 TDI 177
2.7 TDI 190
3.0 TDI 204
3.0 TDI 245

Looking to Buy?
Search for cars