From a young age, like all young boys, I took a keen interest in all things that moved, especially trains. I didn’t have a particularly strong passion for cars until 2012 when my father borrowed my grandfather’s 2001 Audi A6 4.2 FSI Quattro to drive while he looked for a new car.
While Dad inevitably decided that the A6 was too big and too thirsty to justify keeping (excuses!), the short loan period was enough to convince me that cars – particularly Audis – would become a significant part of my life. While Dad went on to purchase an Audi A3 and later an A5 – based on his positive experience with the A6 – it was not until 2018, when I purchased a 2009 Audi A4 3.0 TDI Quattro, with just 78,000 kilometres, that I got to call the ‘four-rings’ my very own.
Whilst next month marks 24 months of ownership of this wonderful vehicle, I have only managed to drive a touch over 10,000 kilometres during this time. Despite what many say about ageing German cars, this period has been mostly trouble free, with only regular maintenance being conducted. Having said that, my experience hasn’t been free from the common niggles that plague this generation of A4, including intermittent door lock actuators and a check engine light caused by worn swirl flaps.
The B8 generation of the Audi A4 was praised for its sharp exterior and exterior styling upon conception, and to this day, even over ten years later, I can’t help but agree. Hop into the driver’s seat and you’ll be greeted by a plush leather interior accented by walnut wood trim.
The seats are certainly a highlight, consisting of full electronic adjustment including lumbar support in this range-topping example. This, combined with gentle bolstering, assures comfort is guaranteed for all journeys, whether it be a late-night spirited drive or a leisurely cross-country trip.
Push the ‘Start-Stop’ button and you’ll be welcomed by the ignition of six roaring turbocharged diesel-powered cylinders. The engine is truly the highlight of the car. Few buyers elected to pair the A4 with the 3.0 TDI in its day due to this drivetrain combination’s starting price of $86,056 back in 2009. As a result, this engine primarily was at home in Audi’s much larger, heavier Q7 SUV model, but those who choose to specify it with the A4 were certainly in for a treat.
Packing 176kW of turbocharged diesel power along with 500Nm of torque, this smart saloon accelerates to triple digits in a touch over six seconds, which was impressive in its day and remains respectable, especially for a diesel. The 6-speed automatic Multitronic transmission is a perfect match to the motor, keeping it smooth and quiet, but ready to accelerate at any moment in its default drive mode.
However, this torque monster truly comes alive in Sport mode, revving just shy of redline while providing what could certainly be described as a dynamic driving experience. Even when driven enthusiastically, the A4 has still provided surprisingly great fuel economy, returning 10 litres per 100 kilometres in my urban daily commute. The Quattro all-wheel drive system certainly lives up to its rally lineage and has ensured the vehicle has never felt at loss for traction, even in heavy rain.
By modern standards, the A4 B8 is certainly lacking in technology, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t without a few useful features. The convenient key system is certainly useful and makes entering and exiting the vehicle much easier, whilst the digital speedometer has totally replaced the physical one for me and provides an easy way to check the current speed at a glance. The Audi Multi-Media Interface (MMI) system, although basic, is intuitive to use and covers the essentials, including a Bluetooth hands-free phone system and auxiliary input.
The arrival of the B9 generation marked the end of the six-cylinder diesel option in the A4 for the Australian market, which is a shame in my view, as this level of torque and fuel economy is hard to match in a petrol 4-pot. The A4, and specifically its 3.0 TDI Quattro drivetrain, has certainly exceeded my expectations I had going into ownership and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend my hard-earned savings.
It is a marvellous daily driver, with more than enough punch for effortless overtaking and spirited driving if required. You would be hard pressed to beat it for its current value on the used market. While the A4 doesn’t match the sheer opulence and rawness of my late grandfather’s 8-cylinder A6 that I continue to lust for, every time I look upon the Quattro badge I am reminded of that great car and the great man that first owned it.
NOTE: We've used press photos of the 2006 A4 3.0 TDI Quattro.