Useful in any guise: the Audi A4 / Audi

Is this the executive car that really does do it all?

Downsizing is all the rage these days. It seems the smart thing for new car buyers to do is swap out of a big-engined car and move into a smaller, greener, more efficient turbo model. But there are still some cars that don’t follow the herd…

Which is why we’ve taken delivery of a new Audi A4, compete with 3.0-litre V6 TDI turbodiesel that’s the refreshing opposite of downsized. Not least thanks to its 215bhp and punchy 295lb ft of pulling power that’s combined with all the smoothness you’d expect from having six cylinders rather than a vibey four. 

And we haven’t taken complete leave of our senses either. On the road, it costs less than £2000 more than the equivalent-trim 2.0-litre TDI – and it’s barely less fuel-efficient either. Indeed, for company car drivers, it even sits in the same tax band as the 2.0 TDI 190.

Our challenge for the next few months is to see if this stacks up in the real world. Do impressive on-paper figures translate into real life? Can a V6 really be as fuel-efficient as a four-cylinder?

First impressions on the road certainly confirm the merits of a multi-cylinder engine. This Audi engine is much more refined than the rattly four-cylinder Jaguar XE we ran before it, with a smoother engine note and more appealing noise. The ride is smoother as well, and the interior is much better – particularly the new-gen infotainment system.

The Jaguar is the more satisfying car to drive, though. The Audi is more remote and its steering is nowhere near as engaging and precise as the XE’s.

It’s pleasing to discover that choosing a big engine in a mainstream saloon doesn’t strap you up with poverty spec equipment. We’ve chosen a Sport model, which has sat nav, xenon headlights, cruise and climate control, DAB radio and keyless start all as standard. 

Just avoid the configurator on Audi’s website unless you want to spend a considerable wad on options. We personally couldn’t resist the Technology Pack, which includes an 8.3in display between the dials – complete with flash Google Maps navigation – plus more steering wheel controls, wireless smartphone charging and built-in audio storage. 

And because we have no willpower, we also picked leather and Alcantara upholstery, the Bang & Olufsen stereo and an S tronic dual-clutch automatic. Oh, and the Audi Virtual Cockpit: once you’ve seen this in action, it’s impossible to resist…

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