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Refreshed A4 is still king of the executive hill

THE figures speak for themselves. The Audi A4 has surpassed the 10 million mark worldwide and has enjoyed massive success here.

In fact, the compact executive has dominated the sales pie chart in the premium B segment for each of the past four years.

It's success is down to what Audi have called an "evolution rather than revolution".

Now, the secret of that success lies in the launch of what's known in the trade as the B8.

This all-new saloon rolled off the production line in 2008 and was lower, wider and a massive 160mm longer giving greater legroom in the rear and boasted a bigger boot of 480 litres. It also came packing a punch -- with more powerful engines right across the board.

But it was the new look that caught everyone's attention.

LED daytime running lights exploded onto the scene and we were introduced to Audi's MMI (Multi Media Interface) with 7 inch colour screen infotainment system.

Options included Audi Drive Select, colour reversing camera and adaptive headlights with cornering ability.

Even though it was destined to slug it out with the 3 series the level of luxury onboard could see it go head-to-head with the 5 Series.

Not surprisingly, it sold by the transporter-load and continued to soar despite the recession and thrived under the new tax and VRT regime -- thanks to its cleaner diesel engines.



RESTYLED



So, it's time for a mid-life refresh and as expected it's been given the full Monty.

The latest offering gets a bit of a facial with a sexy piano black grille to compliment the restyled signature headlights, front fogs and angled airvents.

They've been tinkering under the bonnet too making the diesel units leaner and greener. meaning an 11 pc drop in fuel consumption and emissions while increasing power and torque.

Ireland's favourite, the 120bhp, 2.0 litre TDi has dropped to 119g/km -- putting her in Tax Band A (€160 per year) while returning 63mpg.

Drive and handling has improved too thanks to a couple of positive tweaks to the suspension and when coupled with the Select Drive option is unrivalled in its class.

We tested the S-Line with a seven-speed flappy paddle auto box which gives seamless gear change up or down and is as good as any luxury limo on the market today.

Talking of luxury, the interior is even more impressive. A bit of de-cluttering sees a less complicated central control panel finished in high gloss black trimmed in chrome.

There's a decent level of standard kit including Bluetooth, parking sensors, leather multi-function steering wheel and 17 inch alloys.

The extras list as always are an expensive indulgence but the new S-Line spec -- with those Xenon headlights, sports seats and lowered suspension at €3,750 more -- is hard to resist.

Yes, BMW are in for another bloody battle.

Audi A4 prices start at €33,570.


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