Fleet News

Audi A4 1.9 TDi 110 SE Avant - 13,453 miles



##audia4.jpg --Right##THERE'S real cachet to Audi ownership. Trouble is, it comes at the expense of marque aficionados pouncing on you at the pumps to talk about build quality, sporting pedigree and enthuse over the fuel economy of TDI engines.

Thus, I am unreliably informed that the 1.9-litre 110bhp unit in our A4 is the most thermally-efficient engine in the world. It's a claim that could stack up. In mixed driving, we continue to achieve 49mpg - a figure that shames nearly every other vehicle on our fleet including a diesel supermini.

After three months' running an A4 I am beginning to understand the zeal of Audi owners. Unlike BMW with its 3-series, Audi has resisted the temptation to satisfy demand for the A4. Indeed, while Munich pumped more than 50,000 3-series into the UK last year, Audi restricted A4 volume to 21,000 units - enough for it to retain a sheen of exclusivity. Hence A4s are not more common in the some areas of the South East than Mondeos, the fate of the 3-series. Drive an A4 and you belong to a select group. A group more concerned with quality - how a car feels and looks - than ultimate driver appeal.

In terms of build quality our A4 is impeccable. Despite estates being inherently less rigid than saloons, the Avant has yet to emit a creak or rattle even over rough surfaces. It possesses vault-like solidity that inspires total confidence on the road. Similarly, the cabin exudes class. The sheer tactility of the plastics and trim makes the A4 feel special - an aura amplified by the precision of its switchgear. Folding the rear seat down, for example, is an exercise in simplicity. Rotary arms release the seat back which effortlessly folds flush, while the roller blind over the load bay snaps into place with telepathic ease.

Point is, what's often a clumsy procedure becomes a showcase of precision design and attention to detail. Attributes that make the Audi such an endearing long term proposition. That appeal was enhanced recently after the car's first major service - a trip that dispelled two myths about Audi ownership. First the bill came to just รบ51.46, negating our fears of expensive maintenance; second local dealer Cook's completed the work on schedule and collected and returned the car to our office with a full valet.

It all suggests Audi's recent drive to improve customer service is paying off. Match that to the excellence of the product and it's easy to explain the enthusiasm at the pumps for the brand.

Simon McLoughlin

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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