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What makes the Audi A4 'Car of the Year'?

By raccars Published

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The Audi A4 has been named 'Car of the Year' by 'What Car?' What makes it worthy of the award?

'What Car?' magazine's 'Car of the Year' awards are designed to award the best of the best, both by category and by choosing an overall winner. Last month the new Audi A4 took the coveted ' 2016 Car of the Year' prize - to some industry surprise. It was hard to imagine the mighty BMW 3 Series losing its place as the default best premium executive saloon.

The competition

The Audi A4 has always come up against extraordinarily tough competition, not only in the form of the BMW 3 Series but also the Mercedes-Benz C-Class. All three of these stalwarts are now being challenged by the new Jaguar XE, with brands such as Volvo and Lexus also coming up on the inside. However, this sector has always been dominated by the BMW 3 Series, easily the best-selling premium executive saloon and an industry favourite. It's practical and competent, renowned for the best driving dynamics in its class. Meanwhile the Mercedes-Benz C-Class is distinguished by its plush, elegant design.

Which Audi A4 to go for?

Audi has plunged into the fray with some enthusiasm. While the revamped A4 may not look dramatically different from the outside, mechanically some far-reaching changes have been made. Audi's first job was to get some weight off, using The VW Group's MLB platform to save 120kg, making it lighter than its main rivals. Audi has also bitten the bullet price-wise, so the new model is available from £25,900.

Admittedly the entry level model is not really where the main competition occurs. However pit the Audi head to head against rival 2.0 litre units and it works out - just - the best buy. The range-topping unit is the 268bhp Quattro, which costs about twice as much as the base model. The 'What Car?' award actually went to the 3.0 TDI but the well-equipped 2.0TDI Ultra costs £29,150 and can claim an excellent compromise of performance and economy, with CO2 emissions below 100g/km, 74.3mpg and 148bhp. That makes it a far better buy than anything the 3 Series can offer.

Car valuation experts CAP suggest that the entry level 1.4 TFSI SE is a good choice if you're worried about depreciation, but arguably that's because it has less value to lose in the first place. It should hold 46% of its value after three years. The S Line versions perform even better, as the 2.0 TDI Ultra 190, costing £32,900, should still be worth 48.5% of that after three years.

On the road

Despite becoming slightly longer and wider, the A4 is still pretty agile around town, while passengers will appreciate the extra legroom. Audi has updated its MMI infotainment system to make it quicker and easier to use, and for an executive car the A4 is pretty family friendly too, with useful storage spots and cubby holes dotted around and a capacious boot. There's plenty of sophisticated tech built in, such as the electronic release and close boot lid.

The A4 still trails a little behind rivals in driving dynamics once you get out of town, where there's too much cabin roll and the steering is too woolly for serious driving entertainment. On the other hand, on the motorway it's hard to beat the A4's cabin for comfort, a high quality finish and easily the smoothest and most refined ride in its sector. The whole experience is very 'premium'. Among the options list is a £1,450 Technology Pack which is well worth the additional cost, including an intuitive and informative high definition TFT display to replace the usual instrument cluster.

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