Reader test: Audi A4 1.9 TDI
Riaan van Wyk, Pretoria
Let's just say that, being a little bit of a speed freak, buying a diesel car never appeared a remote possibility to me. That, together with the fact that I was driving an E36 M3 at the time of my Audi purchase, must have you frowning by now. But unfortunately (or fortunately) at the time my financial situation was not as good as it used to be and I am the proud father of 2 lovely kids...
Having had plenty of BMWs I was very disappointed with the last two E46 BMWs I owned. So that was scratched from my list. I then looked at the Audis and was surprised with the roominess of the interiors (and especially the boots) compared to the BMWs. So when I found a pristine TDi at a realistic price, I was sold.
I bought the car with 107 000 km on the clock, full service history by the agents and loaded with extras like front and rear park sensors, Bose sound system, electric seats, six CD front loader, multifunction steering wheel and cruise control. It's also the six-speed manual version.
I paid R 120 000 for the car 18 months ago (which was a steal at the time) as the M&M retail this month is still R 115 000. I know trade-in is low, but so it is for any luxury saloon out of motor plan these days.
Long distance dream
Power is simply amazing and two months into ownership the family took a road trip via the Northern Cape to Cape Town where the folks live. Still trying to adapt to diesel, I almost never stuck to the speed limit (let's leave it at that), but still managed a respectable 16 km/l with two adults, two kids, plenty of luggage for the four-week trip, and a heavy right foot!
The trip back I constantly drove at an indicated 140 km/h with the cruise control on, and managed 19km/l. Now that is amazing!
The car has covered 170 000 km now, and to date I have had absolutely no mechanical issues. No warning lights, no turbo problems of any sort. I do not service at the agents (I am in the industry and have my own guys looking after my cars) and drive on low sulphur diesel, so I service only every 15 000 km. The oil changes (with semi synthetic oil) work out to R 500 a time, with air filter, R 700, and with a diesel filter, R 1 200.
The front brake pads lasted 45 000 km when the sensor came on, and the pads still had about 30% life left - but were replaced anyway. Tyre choice is VERY important as the softish Pirellis I opted to fit to the front only lasted 35 000 km, but the harder Dunlops have done the same and are only half worn.
The cambelt needs to be replaced every 90 000 km - but using a specialist at a franchised workshop will cost around R3 500 - not as much as you would think.
Good on the Reef
I would buy one again tomorrow - especially at Gauteng altitude - where the flat torque curve is evident in the traffic (but be aware - 60 km/h comes so easy and I get speeding fines MONTHLY). Pull away is a bit tricky (it stalls easily), but once you get used to it, it's a great drive.
I'm not brand loyal; I drive what I can afford and what seems a good deal at the time. Having owned 25+ cars in my life (I'm only 36), this definitely rates tops as a family saloon with low running costs and fitted with all the luxuries you could need.
Added to that excellent performance and a torque-ish drive, you cannot go wrong. Yes I know the BM is much stronger, but ouch - how many turbos would I have had to replace by now....
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