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New car reviews online: Audi A4 and BMW 320d head to head

21 May 2016

The new A4 is bigger and more efficient according to Audi

We’re up to our ears in large cars the week with a convoy of 4x4s and saloons somehow squeezing their way onto the Which? driveway.

Thankfully the SUVs are of the compact variety with the supremely popular Range Rover Evoque getting the Which? test treatment alongside the less well known SsangYong Tivoli. On the saloon side of things there are few automotive rivalries juicier than the BMW 3 Series versus the Audi A4. These two executive titans have been trying to outdo each other for years. If the Audi and BMW just aren’t fancy enough for you the hyphen-heavy Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe might be. Its a sportier saloon thanks to the sloped roof, but is it worth the steep asking price?

Whether they’re household names like Audi or relative unknowns like SsangYong all cars enter our lab as equals. Each will undergo the same tests and be driven for hundreds of miles on the same roads so our results are comparable and our reviews unparalleled.

If you’re already a Which? member log in to see these reviews and more. Alternatively, if you want to see why Which? reviews are the best around sign up for a 1 trial.12

Latest Which? car reviews

Audi A4 (2015-) new model

As the German manufacturer’s bestselling car there’s a lot of weight on the A4’s shoulders. Audi isn’t resting on its laurels – the latest A4 improves the ride comfort and comes with more technology than your local Currys store. A seven-inch colour display, Xenon headlights and three-zone climate control are included with the standard version, and for the Apple aficionados out there it has an option to include Apple CarPlay. Audi knows the competition is stiff and it’s thrown everything into the A4 to make sure it stays at the top of the heap. Read our Audi A4 review3 to see if it’s done enough.

Range Rover Evoque (2016-) new model

The new Evoque may look familiar, but there’s a new engine under the hood

As the baby of the Range Rover family, the Evoque was designed to bring the class and luxury of the larger Range Rover into a sportier frame at a lower price point. It must have done something right – more than 80,000 were sold in its first year on sale. Five years later the latest Evoque keeps the sporty body and signature concept-style grille and headlights, but under the hood we get the first taste of the Ingenium engine. Jaguar Land Rover claims the Ingenium is its most fuel-efficient engine – not something we normally associate with Range Rovers.

Read our full Range Rover Evoque review4 to see whether that new engine makes any tangible difference.

BMW 3 Series 320d Luxury (2015-) tested model

There’s no denying the popularity of the 3 Series in its many guises. The Luxury version is designed with comfort in mind – leather seats, wood interior and chrome detailing on the exhaust, grille and bumpers add some extravagance to an already desirable executive saloon. There are some useful additions too, like rear-parking sensors, but is it good enough to recommend over the cheaper 3 Series variants? Find out in our BMW 3 Series 320d Luxury review5.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe (2016-) new model

If you like your saloons to sit on the sporty side of the fence the latest C-Class Coupe should be on your radar. The extended bonnet and sloped rear give the Coupe a distinctive style of its own – there’ll be no mistaking it for its executive saloon sibling. Inside, the luxury continues but if you’re in the back you might find that attractive sloping roof gives you a crick in the neck.

Read our Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe review6 to see if it has what it takes to tempt people away from the practical spacious executive saloons.

Ford Focus ST estate (2015-) new model

Hot hatch and estate – the Ford Focus ST estate tries to offer the best of both worlds

Combining the best parts of a hot hatchback with a practical estate car is no easy task, but that’s what Ford has tried to do with the Focus ST estate. As an estate car the 476-litre boot sounds good on paper but it’s not as big as its rivals’. The engines should at least do a fair job of giving the ST a sporty edge with the petrol engine capable of an impressive 247 bhp. Read our Ford Focus ST estate review7 to see if Ford has got the balance right.

SsangYong Tivoli (2015-) new model

The crossover takeover of UK roads doesn’t show any sign of slowing down – more than 85,000 were newly registered in March. SsangYong wants a piece of that lucrative pie but is the Tivoli the car to do it? The stylish compact SUV is hitting all the right notes with a body shape reminiscent of the Nissan Juke, four-wheel drive as standard and a generous five-year warranty. Then there’s the price, which could see people flocking to SsangYong’s banner, with entry level models costing as little as 12,950. Read our SsangYong Tivoli review8 to see if such a cheap SUV can be competitive.

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  3. ^ Audi A4 review (
  4. ^ Range Rover Evoque review (
  5. ^ BMW 3 Series 320d Luxury review (
  6. ^ Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe review (
  7. ^ Ford Focus ST estate review (
  8. ^ SsangYong Tivoli review (

Mazda MX-5 (2015-)

An all-new MX-5 is always a big story for sports car fans. Mazda’s fourth-generation model keeps the successful MX-5 formula largely intact but beefs things up in the design department. But does it keep its iconic sports car status?

What is it?

If you want evidence of how good a job Mazda has made of the MX-5 over its three generations to date, consider this. Not only is it the best-selling sports car of all time, but also no other manufacturer bothers to make a direct rival, simply because everyone recognises it’s impossible to build a better budget sports car. The all-new fourth-generation MX-5 is therefore a pretty big deal. It’s shorter, lower and wider than the outgoing MX-5. In fact, it’s even smaller than the original Mk1, making it the most compact MX-5 ever. And it’s considerably lighter, weighing a claimed 1,075kg. The MX-5 silhouette remains familiar, but the overall shape has more curves in it, and extra aggression. The most prominent styling changes are a more angular front end and oval rear lights.

Two petrol engines are offered: a 1.5 and a 2.0. The 1.5-litre unit is a tuned variant of the engine already seen in the Mazda 2 and Mazda 3, offering 129bhp (more than the old 1.8-litre MX-5, in fact). The 1.5 version’s on-paper figures are 0-62mph in 8.3secs, 139g/km emissions and claimed economy of 47.1mpg. Meanwhile, the 2.0 has 158bhp and is claimed to do 0-62mph in 7.3secs, 40.9mpg and 161g/km CO2 emissions.

Even entry-level SE models have alloy wheels, LED headlights, heated mirrors, electric windows and air-con. SE-L versions add features such as cruise control, touchscreen and climate control. Sport trim brings you rain-sensing wipers, rear parking sensors, lane departure warning, keyless entry, Bose sound system and heated leather seats. The 2.0 Sport model also gets sports suspension, a limited slip differential and a strut brace to improve body rigidity.

MZD-Connect is standard from SE-L models onwards, featuring a big seven-inch colour touchscreen that connects with smartphones to access radio, social media, texts and emails. An integrated sat nav system is optional.

There’s no hard-top model yet, although Mazda hints that this might change in the future.

What s it up against?

Like we said, the MX-5 has no direct rivals at its entry-level price of 18,495. Higher-spec models do nudge into territory occupied by the likes of the Toyota GT86, Peugeot RCZ and hatchback-based convertibles such as the Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet.

Members can see our full first drive verdict of the new Mazda MX-5, including our full first impressions, pictures and which model to choose. Sign up for 12 if you’re not a member.1

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Audi A4 Avant (2015-)

As sure as night follows day, Audi s new and highly vaunted A4 saloon is soon to be joined by an Avant (estate) version. It keeps the crisp styling and tech-laden interior, but is more versatile thanks to its a much larger boot.

The new Audi A4 Avant keeps the saloon’s classy styling

What is the new Audi A4 Avant?

Rear load space is claimed to be best in class. Following hot on the heels of its saloon sibling, the Audi A4 Avant is a premium five-door estate, with a greater emphasis on practicality. It’s claimed to be the best in class when it comes to luggage space, and will go head to head with similarly upmarket rivals such as the BMW 3-Series Touring and Mercedes C-Class Estate. Expect a long list of advanced technology options to be available. These will include Audi s virtual cockpit, which sees conventional dials replaced with a customisable high-resolution display, and Matrix LED headlights, which subtly alter the direction of the high-beam so it can be extra bright without dazzling oncoming drivers.

Which engines will the new Audi A4 Avant use?

There’s a wide range of engine choices, with the bulk being made up of four-cylinder 2.0-litre turbocharged units. Diesel versions offer either 148bhp or 187bhp, and the petrol engines develop 187bhp and a muscular 249bhp. A six-cylinder 3.0-litre diesel is also available, with power up to 268bhp. Selected engines will be available with Audi s Quattro four-wheel-drive system. The previous A4 s entry-level 1.8 petrol engine has now been replaced with a 1.4-litre unit with 148bhp. Unlike the rest of the engine range, it isn t available in conjunction with an automatic gearbox, and is offered solely with a six-speed manual. If you want the lowest tax rates, go for one of the low-emissions 2.0 TDI Ultra models, which generate as little as 104g/km CO2 in Avant cars. Full fuel-economy figures for the range are yet to be confirmed, although Audi is claiming the new A4 Avant is 21% more fuel efficient than the outgoing model.

Why should I buy the new Audi A4 Avant?

The A4 Avant comes with a long, tech-filled options list. For buyers not swayed by the BMW 3-Series Touring s sporting intent, the A4 Avant s focus on gadgets and ease of use could prove more appealing. It has the same level of technological sophistication as its saloon stable-mate, and offers standard equipment in the form of LED daytime running lamps, three-zone climate control, cruise control, rear parking sensors and a smartphone interface that supports Apple CarPlay. However, the main appeal of the Avant is its cavernous boot. It measures 505 litres, although this rises to 1,510 litres (claimed) with the rear seats folded down, though we ll be putting that claim to the test in our own review. It s a usefully square load space, too, and features a number of practical features such as luggage rails and side pockets for smaller items.

When is the new Audi A4 Avant on sale?

Order books for the Audi A4 Avant are open now, with the first customer cars expected for delivery from November 2015. Prices start at 27,300 for 1.4-litre petrol models in entry-level SE spec, and rise to 40,350 for a 3.0-litre TDI diesel with an eight-speed automatic in range-topping S line trim.

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More cars coming soon

  • Coming soon: Jaguar XF (2015-)1

    Class: Luxury cars2

    Jaguar is on something of a model offensive at the moment, with this second-generation XF executive saloon following its little brother, the XE, into showrooms. Lightweight technology and new engines puts it in prime position to take on its popular German competition.

  • Toyota Prius (2016-)3

    Class: Large cars4

    It s been 16 years since Toyota brought the concept of hybrid motoring to the UK with the Prius hatchback. The model is now due to enter its fourth generation and, aside from a bold new look, is claimed to be cleaner and more efficient than ever before.

  • Suzuki Baleno (2016-)5

    Class: Superminis6

    Suzuki s modest vehicle range is set to expand with the introduction of the new Baleno five-door hatchback. Read on for full details including engine specs, equipment and projected prices.

All cars coming soon7


  1. ^ Coming soon: Jaguar XF (2015-) (
  2. ^ Luxury cars (
  3. ^ Toyota Prius (2016-) (
  4. ^ Large cars (
  5. ^ Suzuki Baleno (2016-) (
  6. ^ Superminis (
  7. ^ All cars coming soon (