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.
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.
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.
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.
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.