UK Car Road Test

Audi A4 1.9 TDI (130) 2001

 Movie Clips of this Car

Exterior Movie Interior Movie

 


 

Audi's 130bhp Red I Express 

GTi bashing performance with Mini thirst.

This is the restyled version of the A4 with looks derived from the bigger A6 and rather lovely looking it is too, in my opinion. There is more than a hint of new Mondeo and Passat in its lines but AUDI defined the line first so if this is not quite original, it's a clone of its original brother and that's okay by me.

Styling-wise Audi have got the small/medium and large/medium sectors boxed off styling wise.  

It may not quite translate to the little A3 or be grand enough for the luxo-barge A8 but in the middle ground it looks nigh on perfect. Once that open mouthed look of the A8 gets added, probably in its next updated, it will really be a thing of stunning beauty. 

Build quality of chassis and body remains high and its fixtures and fittings are chosen to highlight the quality, not hide it under a pile of tripe. 

The interior is built and styled to the same high, yet subtly restrained, specification of previous generations of A4. The brushed alloy banding has been replaced by a sort of gloss black plastic strip which doesn't really try to mimic carbon. I'm not sure quite what it's trying to achieve  and it seems a minor step back from the brushed alloy effect although its quality is still undeniably high. 

Audi do a religiously good line in black and grey interiors yet it never appears oppressive or dowdy despite its lack of neon and dayglo stripes and flecks and jazzy patterns. The French could/should learn a lot from Audi's trim. 

Audi seats tend to feel a bit flat and firm but they do seem comfortable for longer trips so there is really no complaint despite their looks.

The dash is laid out with the usual military precision and simple, uncluttered, precise readouts. Any wonderment at the dash is reserved for the sheer level of its luminous nature. All clocks are visible through the steering wheel which makes a nice change from many cars.

 

The Audi carries an aura of quality about it that really needs no fancy gadget to give it a pretence of high end but it's still well loaded with equipment and, more importantly, nice touches. Despite the saloon body, it has the split rear seats to enhance flexibility and usability. 

Comfort Features
Adjustable Steering Column
Adjustable Steering Column
Centre Arm Rest Rear
Centre Arm Rest Rear
Cloth Trim
Cloth Trim
Cup holders
Cup holders
Drivers seat Lumbar Support
Drivers seat Lumbar Support
Front Door Bins
Front Door Bins
Head Rests (front & rear)
Head Rests (front & rear)
Height Adjustable Drivers Seat
Height Adjustable Drivers Seat
Height Adjustable Seat Belts
Height Adjustable Seat Belts
Pollen Filter
Pollen Filter
Split rear seats
Split rear seats
Time Clock
Time Clock
General Features
Colour Coded Bumpers
Colour Coded Bumpers
Colour Coded Mirrors
Colour Coded Mirrors
Digital Odometer
Digital Odometer
Exterior Side Mouldings
Exterior Side Mouldings
Heated Rear Window
Heated Rear Window
Tinted Windows
Tinted Windows
Luxury Features
Air Conditioning
Air Conditioning
Cigarette Lighter
Cigarette Lighter
Electric Mirrors
Electric Mirrors
Electric Windows front
Electric Windows front
Electro Chromatic Rear View mirror
Electro Chromatic Rear View mirror
Heated Mirrors
Heated Mirrors
Illuminated Passenger Vanity Mirror
Illuminated Passenger Vanity Mirror
Leather Steering Wheel
Leather Steering Wheel
Radio Cassette
Radio Cassette
Trip Counter
Trip Counter

Judging by the number of lights and electrical powered stuff on board it must have an alternator the size of a small power station.

Big red I = big long darkies on the tarmac You have set off the alarm if you hadn't noticed
or you're deaf
Watch out - low flying spanner  Double zone temp control

Sitting ensconced within the car in the grip of winter, it's mildly entertaining to survey the flight deck-style array of gleaming diodes.

 

This is the most interesting section of this review. The A4 is a well known quantity and has proved itself a desirable motor from its inception. The diesels and, in particular the higher powered diesels, being held in very high regard.

We had the 90bhp A4 version of this 1.9TDI motor frequently on test and it's a quality drive if just lacking a touch of real oomph although that was solved by the 110bhp version with its kick-ass stomping mid range and predilection for wheel spin.

The 115bhp version managed to bypass us but we imagine that it was more of the same for the power hungry mob albeit the long pocketed miserly ones who both wanted to own the cake and eat it too (but not pay for it ).

It seems logical then for the motor to find itself stepped up once again and this time to a stonking 130bhp with a pauper's 100bhp model coming in for the 90.

Okay, it's an average figure today for a two litre petrol but not so long ago would have been considered quite sporting if generated by a two litre petrol. Consider this - the boy racers of the past dreamed of  RS2000 Ford Escorts with 110bhp or XR3i with 115bhp. Here we are now with a diesel stomping all over those figures and, in terms of max torque,  we mean stomping. Stomping into the ground and crushing it into the dirt with its heels.

Not much to see

but do not be fooled

So can you feel the difference between 110 or 115  and 130bhp? Oh yes, you can indeed. The A4 carries traction control now and with a massive wall of torque through the front wheels it jolly well needs it as, on anything but perfect surfaces, it is easily overwhelmed by the motor.

Its delight is not really in its top end where it packs 130 horses into just over 4000rpm with the huge compression killing any further revs stone dead but in its kick through the mid range with it pulling with massive power from the low start of the power band to its dead stop.

As usual the Audi box is snickerty snick light and fast, aiding maximum progression but you are hard pressed to get caught out in too high a gear and, with 1500 revs on board, you just flatten the throttle and enjoy the kick up the butt which is well out of proportion with the displacement and fuel type of the engine.

The clutch aids the box with its lightness and ease so, all in all, it's about perfect, right?

Well, not quite.

To take advantage of the torque and thermal efficiency the diff is suitably long in its ratio to give relaxed cruising at speed but the cost of shoving all that response and perfection  into a shortened power band.

But with the high gearing the car resolutely refuses to trickle along in second gear and stalls like the engine has seized in a millisecond. No lurching, no warning, just engine death. The effect is similar to those of us who switch from manual to auto and fail to engage brain by pressing left footed for a clutch and catching the oversized brake pedal when stopping. True, you can change into first but how many cars do you need to do that on and how are many diesels?

You can, of course, engage in a bit of clutch slip to help out and you will probably get used to it but, for me, the real answer would be a six speed box which may seem strange on torquey diesel or an automatic or heresy in VAG terms - more cubic capacity and less turbo effect. Maybe we are just seeing the logical conclusion and end of the 1.9 TDI design and the motor is becoming less sweet as the power goes ever upwards.  

Service Interval Insurance Group Safety Rating Smog Rating
19000 13 Band (B)
Engine BHP CC Fuel Inj.
Turbo Diesel 4 Cylinder 130 1896 No
Cyl Camshafts Valves/cyl Compressor
4 Single 2 Turbo Charger
Top Speed 0 to 60 BHP per Tonne
129mph 9.9seconds 83
MPG@Urban MPG@Cruise MPG@Speed Fuel Type
38.2mpg 64.2mpg 51.4mpg Diesel
Kerb Weight Tow Weight Length Width Height
1590kg 1800kg 455cm 178cm 142cm
Boot Seats/up Boot Seats/Down Seats
445 Litres 719 Litres 5

Despite the niggles, even the figures for the car do not portray its ability. On the road the engine's easily accessible power makes it perform much better than the figures suggest. The figures are, of course, on a perfect test track with a supremely able pilot going sequentially through the box. In reality, on the road whilst the opposition is changing down two gears to get some urge, you have depressed the gas pedal and launched off down towards the horizon. 

130mph may sound great and it is but let's be realistic about what we can get away with. I would trade 10mph for 1 second quicker to sixty. Can't argue with the economy though. But the car is too much fun to ever hit those figures reliably.

 

The A4's ride always seems to take a bashing from the motoring journos but, like the ride, those comments are a trifle harsh.

The A4 is perhaps not at its best on our shell shocked roads and can get a little skittish over poor surfaces but the ride is not as inflexible as some would suggest. True, it's not the greatest rider in the world but take a look around - hordes of women drive A4s and love them to bits. Have you ever heard an A4 owner mention the bone shaker ride? So either it's possible that folk are too thick to notice or really just don't care that much and the rose-tinted sheen of the style blinds them to its faults.

Personally, I think the ride is okay but at odds with the shopping-car nature of the controls. The Quattro version always feel a bit more meaty though the steering and steering feedback is still the main whinge I have about the A4. It turns fine, goes in a straight line perfectly and grips well for a front driver, it's just that the wheel feels so detached from the action. 99% of the time you don't care as the lightness and ease is all you need. It's just that  sometimes you would like the steering to get a little more involved and be a little more exciting.

All round disc brakes assisted by ABS pull the car up quickly and straight. The ABS does not intrude overly and you have to press hard and stop really quickly to get it working, suggesting that the grip level is quite high from the tyres. The pedal is also a little more responsive and has better feel than the overly light models of old and so is more controllable. 

The tyres ride on corporate-style Audi alloy wheels which are eye catching and neat.  

   

Steer/Susp/Tech Features
Alloy Wheels
Alloy Wheels
Catalytic Converter
Catalytic Converter
Disc Brakes Front & Rear
Disc Brakes Front & Rear
Front Fog lamps fitted
Front Fog lamps fitted
Halogen Head Lights
Halogen Head Lights
Independent Suspension
Independent Suspension
Intermittent Wash Wipe
Intermittent Wash Wipe
Power Assisted Steering
Power Assisted Steering
Rev Counter
Rev Counter
Service Level Indicator
Service Level Indicator

 

 

High visibility headlamps

LED-festooned adjuster

These are desirable cars full stop and Audi affords it a full range of protection from loss which is, of course, good.

It's also well equipped on the safety front with more balloons than your average child-entertaining clown.

Safety/Security Features
Alarm
Alarm
Antilock Braking System
Antilock Braking System
Child Locks
Child Locks
Engine Immobiliser
Engine Immobiliser
Front Side Air Bags
Front Side Air Bags
Front Twin Airbags
Front Twin Airbags
High level brake Light
High level brake Light
Locking Fuel Cap
Locking Fuel Cap
Locking Wheel Nuts
Locking Wheel Nuts
Pre Tensioned front Seat Belts
Pre Tensioned front Seat Belts
Rear Seat Belts Fitted
Rear Seat Belts Fitted
Remote Central Locking
Remote Central Locking
Side Impact Protection
Side Impact Protection
Three Rear 3 Point Seat Belts
Three Rear 3 Point Seat Belts

As the nights draw in it's also nice to see that the car is well illuminated externally with big, bright lights giving maximum visibility.

As a mid range saloon the A4 is now a bit bigger and bolder, fixing a few of its size problems in relation to the opposition. It has a useful amount of extra space internally and the split rear seats are a real bonus.

Those who found the A4 a tad on the petite size should perhaps now look again. It's still not as large as some of its competitors but you may not need that extra size.

Other than that, the A4 is as distinguished and stylish and elegant as ever. Its desirability adds to the resale value so you may have to pay extra but you will get more back.  

Note flicky widget in disguise

 

160mph in an A4?
Now that would be something!

Undisturbed clarity


 

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UK Car Road Test Audi A4 1.9 TDI (130) 2001

UK Car Road Test Keywords: Saloon DieselA4 1.9 TDI (130)