Tech­ni­cal su­pe­ri­or­ity

Herald Sun - Cars Guide - - SHORT CUT - CHRIS RI­LEY CUTS TO THE CHASE

VALUE

Looks just the same but it’s ac­tu­ally larger and dare we say classier. A three-cylin­der 3 Se­ries costs $100 less, but feels or­di­nary. The en­try four­cylin­der C-Class is a wor­thy contender, but costs $6000 more. Stan­dard kit in­cludes sports seats, power ad­just driver’s seat, 18-inch wheels, LED head­lights, sat­nav and Ap­ple Carplay/An­droid Auto. Stun­ning vir­tual cock­pit is a $2100 op­tion. War­ranty is three years/un­lim­ited. Ser­vic­ing at 12 month/15,000km in­ter­vals will cost $1620 for 3years/45,000km.

COM­FORT

Love the vibe of Audi cab­ins, with their em­pha­sis on metal fin­ishes. This one nails com­fort and sporti­ness. This is the fifth gen­er­a­tion — it’s longer and wider, with a longer wheel­base, trans­lat­ing to greater in­te­rior space, with more rear legroom and a larger boot. The jury is out on the new gearshift though with its sep­a­rate park but­ton.

SAFETY

Five stars thanks to eight airbags, rear sen­sors, re­verse cam­era, rear cross traf­fic alert and au­tonomous emer­gency brak­ing. A cam­era scans for haz­ards up to 100m ahead. A new fea­ture, exit warn­ing, scans the road or foot­path to warn oc­cu­pants of ap­proach­ing foot or cy­cle traf­fic.

DRIV­ING

Packs a punch for a 1.4. Sport mode de­liv­ers the best re­sult. Max­i­mum torque kicks in from a low 1500rpm and the 0100km/h sprint feels faster that the claimed 8.5 sec­onds. Fuel fig­ure of 5.5L/100km is aided by the lat­est stop-start tech — it pow­ers down on the ap­proach to traf­fic lights and the sev­en­speed dual-clutch trans­mis­sion free­wheels when you lift off.

AL­TER­NA­TIVES BMW 318i, from $54,900

Three-cylin­der 1.5 turbo shared with Mini de­liv­ers 100kW/220Nm. It’s rear-drive, with eight-speed auto and the driv­e­line is more tempt­ing than it sounds. Cabin and equip­ment lean to the or­di­nary. Uses 5.4L/100km. War­ranty is three years/un­lim­ited km. Ser­vices cost $1340 for 5 years/80,000km.

Mercedes-Benz C200, from $61,400

Four-cylin­der 2.0 turbo, good for 135kW/300Nm, drives the rear wheels via a seven-speed dual clutch. The en­try C-Class comes at a pre­mium over the Audi but will have bet­ter re­sale. Thirst is 6.0L/100km, war­ranty is three years/un­lim­ited km and ser­vic­ing, at 12 months/25,000km, will cost $1980 over three years.

VER­DICT

Audi’s en­try level A4 is more ap­peal­ing than ever, with plenty of in­dus­try-lead­ing tech, a smart modern cabin and a fru­gal but punchy turbo en­gine.

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