Driven: Audi A4 3.0 TDI quattro

If you’ve been to Europe in the last few years you may have noticed how many new cars have diesel engines. There’s very good reason for it. Firstly, unlike in Australia, diesel fuel costs significantly less than petrol. And secondly, diesel cars are considerably more economical. 

In recent years diesel cars have changed enormously from the clattery, smoky, slow devices from years gone by. Today a diesel engine usually can boast cleaner emissions than a traditional petrol engine, and while the diesels are still a little noisier, it’s a small price to pay.  

Typically diesels are lower revving and less powerful than a petrol engine of the same size. However, the big benefit they have is vastly more torque – which in most driving situations is more useful than power. 

Many modern diesels also employ turbochargers – and one exceptional example of this is Audi’s new 3.0TDi, fitted in our test car in the small A4 sedan body. This engine is a V6, and with the turbo doing work from low in the rev range, it gives very impressive performance. With 171kW and a stonking 450Nm of torque, the car is capable of 0-100km/h in 7.2 seconds and tops out at 235km/h. 

But it’s not just about performance. This model is equipped with the latest version of Audi’s famous ‘quattro’ all wheel drive system, providing sure-footed grip even under extreme circumstances. It’s aided by electronic wizardry to ensure the safest handling. Audi’s build quality is certain to impress anyone who drives the A4. The fit and finish inside and out is exemplary and would satisfy the fussiest critic. It feels bank vault strong. 

At over $85,000, this version needs to be well equipped to meet the market demands – and it is. A very good navigation system is built into the entertainment system (with TV, etc) and the comfort of the multi-adjustable power seats is of a high standard. The boot is spacious and the Avant wagon version adds extra practicality – and style.

Driving the car you find the controls easy to understand, the car easy to point and the boost from the engine always a pleasure. Annoying flipper-operated gear selection is too easily over-ridden by the car’s computers, making it superfluous. Just leave it in Drive, or Sport if you want to hear more revs – let the 6-speed box do its job, and enjoy the torquey performance.

Engine type: 3-litre V6 diesel, turbocharged
Power: 171kW
Torque: 450Nm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Performance: 0-100km/h 7.2 seconds
Price: $86,700 at time of review
Photos & text - Paul Blank (copyright)