I spend a lot of time driving in my role so practicality has always taken precedence over pleasure. I was really excited, then, to take the brand new Audi A4 Saloon for a trip out, courtesy of Tyneside Audi.
My first impression was what a beautiful and sleek looking car it is. The interior is effortlessly elegant, reflecting the same shapes and lines seen on the exterior. I was intrigued to find out if it was simply style over substance.
The low-slung seats were so comfortable with the added bonus of back support – particularly important for me on long drives – and the dashboard, centre console and general upholstery were all presented impeccably, oozing a cleverly-balanced sumptuous but sporty charm.
My car of choice at the moment is a Mini Countryman, so I was slightly worried manoeuvring the Audi around the shiny models on the forecourt. I was already ruling out locations I would take it to over the weekend for that reason, but soon realised nowhere would be off limits. Steering was really light and I got to grips with the extent of the chassis straight away.
Navigating my way through the city centre to visit hotels, I didn’t once feel like I was in a big car. Yet the whole car had a true sense of spaciousness. Even with all the baggage my day-to-day work and leisure lifestyle brings with it, the cabin space remained uncluttered. I added in the kids’ booster seat and loaded a bicycle and scooter into the boot, which still left plenty of room.
My four-year-old daughter seemed to enjoy the smooth ride out, and after a long walk in the fresh air, I took note that the engine was unexpectedly silent while the little one snoozed in the back. When Daisy was wide awake though, the central LCD screen displaying the sat nav kept her occupied, working out which colour road we were on.
That brings me onto the techy pros of the car. Connecting to the smartphone Interface took only seconds, so I could activate Spotify in one click ,and using the ‘virtual cockpit’ on my journeys became second nature. And the parking assist? One word... wow! I’m not sure how I can live without this in the future! You can tell this model has evolved from its predecessors with refined suspension and state-of-the-art systems including adaptive cruise control and traffic jam assist.
Acceleration on a whole was prompt and effective, while braking was sensitive and sharp. On one day, I opted to take the scenic route home where the country lanes offered me the chance to give the engine a little push. That was a lot of fun. On a chilly morning, I’m not sure why the sudden onslaught of snow surprised me. Not the best weather to be testing out the latest motor, in no uncertain terms. But I was looking forward to seeing how the Audi fared against my usual 4x4 (albeit a compact version).
The car heated very quickly which meant quick comfort and onto the roads – those the gritters hadn’t quite reached yet – where it handled reassuringly well and kept its agility. The LED headlights are striking so being seen isn’t an issue. I was confidently in control at all times.
So with much regret, I returned the car to the friendly and, might I add, incredibly helpful Tyneside Audi dealership staff, thinking back to my initial opinions. Some of these had certainly been turned on their heads and others I’d been a good judge of character on, namely that visually it is beautiful inside and out.
While I thought the A4 would be impossibly impractical with lots of frills, it actually stepped up to the mark from the perspective of a working mum who just needs to get the job done.
I love its smartness and stylishness but feared that it may not have the brains to go with it. With hindsight, this not so sales director-friendly car turned out to be a fantastic family accessory built for travel, the daily commute and taking on adventure – all delivered with the guarantee of a slick and safe arrival. Overall verdict: it’s not a case of would I buy this car, it’s more like how soon can I have one!
The car Tina drove was an Audi A4 Saloon S Line 2.0 TDI with an OTR £39,505. Starting price OTR £34,030.