Monday, October 8, 2012

Used Car Review - Audi A4 (1998-2004)

The second week of October starts with this feature used German car. Not all wants to be dragged in the spotlight, right? Myk Belmonte finds one low profile vehicle that you can acquire thanks tot he power of depreciation. Care for German Franks for this conversation?

1998-2004 Audi A4

The Audi A4 could be called as the vehicle that saved Audi's sales due to the 80/90 series (the cars that the A4 replaced back in 1994) having some unintended acceleration issues. It had to work out since this was a new model back then, and it successfully did the goal. And rather the four-year model life cycle of the forefathers, the first generation A4 had a much longer life from 1994 to 2001.

With the platform name B5 (and known as the Typ 8D inside Audi-Volkswagen offices) which is shared with the fourth generation Volkswagen Passat, the Audi A4 was much to the success of the company. It saw many firsts which include forced induction and the Tiptronic transmission, which saw different Audi vehicles. For different consumers around the world, nine different engine choices of different combinations are made standard.

Auto Prominence (who used to distribute Audi, Alfa Romeo, Volkswagen, and Proton vehicles back then) brought in the Audi A4 (we get the facelifted model) in 1998 since they are thrown in the towel with their Proton venture. It was good of the distributor that the sedan, turbo, and avant (wagon in Audi speak) are brought in but rather having the B6 A4 in 2001, we had this one until 2004 (rumor has it that they are pre-owned units from the Middle East and Germany and not genuine new models, which irked Audi's head office in Ingolstadt and caused their deal to be cut, with PGA Cars taking care of Audi from 2005 onwards) with the B7 model introduced by PGA Cars in 2005.

Value and Costs
Find the prices of the 3 Series and C Class expensive? Then jump for joy that the A4's prices are much more cheaper than the two, you can have the B5 for P300,000-P400,000 as opposed for the Bimmer's starting price of 450 grand and double for the Benz's. That's a good thing if you desire a German car and you are not that type of a badge snob. This price range encompasses different models and variants, parallel imports and local dealer releases.

Maintaining one is at par with its German compatriots, and parts support are wide and strong since a number of Audi enthusiasts exist. Among the things to watch out for are the worn out interior trim due to the tropical climate, fluids which must be filled up, the mass airflow meter is not broken since replacing one is friggin expensive, and the radiator is in good condition.

Exterior and Interior
Some say that the B5 A4 looks vanilla and plain, while a different group shouts that it is Audi classic. Squint hard and you can tell that it resembles the Audi 80/90 and looks like the 90s interpretation of the vehicle. It is sleek and aggressive at the same time, with the grille having enough space to let the engine breathe. While the greenhouse space is tall that fools other people.

Functionality rules with the A4's interior, starting with the cabin's layout which is subtle. And the layout of controls which is easy for the driver to reach without any fuss or distractions. Since it targets the driver, a digital multifunction panel - which contains fuel consumption and other related data - and a 'foot on brake before shifting into gear' reminder are nice touches, especially the latter, which I feel it must be standard with vehicles that have an automatic transmission. Room for five people is exemplary, but avoid sitting behind the driver's seat especially if the one operating the car is tall, since you will suffer limited space.

Honestly speaking, the engine that moves the A4 isn't anything home to write about. It is decent enough for daily driving and capable for highway cruising. But not enough if speed and punch is what you seek, which is lacking naturally aspired or turbo charged. Care to know the engine? It is a 1,781cc gasoline (while competitors have more displacement liters) engine and if you plan to get a normal version, you'll have 125hp at 5,800rpm and 173Nm at 3,950rpm. Desiring a turbo A4? You get 150hp at 5,700rpm and 210Nm at 1,750-4,600rpm to play with. Do take note that getting a turbo version would mean a bundle with the Quattro, an AWD system by Audi.

Driving Impressions
Enter the A4 and what greets you is a expanse wood trim, and leather textures. Ready to drive? You'll be rewarded with a feeling of rapid forward motion. If you plan to beat zero to 80 records, better plan it ahead since reaching that speed would take time but bring it on the mountains, the A4 exhibits its fun side. Handling is ok as long as you conserve momentum and not speed up while taking corners. The suspension absorbs all bumps our roads have.

Apart from an SUV, we middle income folks dream of owning a European vehicle (a sedan comes to the picture) at lesser prices. They said less is more but owning one must have the support since a car is one major investment. The Audi A4 is an entry ticket for that Euro-dream since the price is right, has the balance between driving behavior and comfort. If the latter is a high priority, then this is the car for you.

The Good:
  • Available wagon version
  • Elegantly styled
  • Optional Quattro AWD system
The Bad:
  • Lacks power
  • Good luck finding a wagon version
  • Something's fishy would happen with a worn out unit
The Pick: 1.8 GP is more than adequate for daily driving

Engine: 1,781cc I4 gasoline
Power: 125hp @ 5,800rpm (non-turbo), 150hp @ 5,700rpm (turbo)
Torque: 173Nm @ 3,950rpm (non-turbo), 210Nm @ 1,750-4,600rpm (turbo)
Fuel Consumption: 5-7km/L (city), 10-12km (highway) (*estimated and varies)
Transmission: 5-speed automatic
Suspension: Front double wishbone, rear rigid axle with torsion beam

Price (New): P1,600,000-P2,000,000
Price (Now): P300,000-P400,000
Rivals: BMW 3 Series, Mercedes Benz C Class, Jaguar X-Type, Volvo S40
On Sale: 1998-2004

PGA Cars Mandaluyong - 727-0145
Audi Alabang - 771-2210

Photos courtesy of

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