1998 Audi A4 Sport 1.8 20v turbo


Reliable, good looking and dependable transport... great to drive too


Rear shock absorber on one side was totally broken, axle would jump on hard braking. New shocks cost £60 a pair and 45 minutes to fit myself. Central locking pump was shattered. Got a spare from a scrapyard and replaced my original. £5 from a scrappy!

Fan belt tensioner collapsed at 133k miles. Easy to change and cheap, however elected to do the timing belt as well. I do my own labour, so cheap, no worries.

General Comments:

I adore this car. It's very smooth, very quiet and very comfortable. Still looks modern, mine came with an ageless plate and the average person would struggle to put a date on the car. Previous owner had the car for 10 years, and had always had the car serviced and maintained at Audi dealers. Anyone who moans about the cost of parts isn't looking hard enough, very little costs more than on my Mum's Ford Puma...

Very easy to work on too, easy access and sensibly designed... Cambelt for example is dead simple.

These are all older cars now, but mine has ice cold A/C, smooth quiet ride and excellent reliability. What more do you want? Of course it might need a few £££s occasionally, but spend £30k on a brand new equivalent... ha ha yeah right. These are faster too!

Mine is painted a lifestyle metallic finish, so it stands out, and with Ash Grey leather it's a beautiful combo. Also has BOSE stereo with 6 CD and remote locking. Has 4 airbags for safety.

Do better for £600??? Doubtful... I will drive this car until it dies, I don't plan on that for a while.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 28th November, 2012

12th Feb 2013, 16:50

Update on this car, done another few thousand miles and it is still performing correctly.

It developed a rattle from the turbocharger, but it was just a loose nut on the actuator arm, simple to fix.

I changed the stereo to aftermarket, and then went back to original, because it just looks so much nicer.

The clutch release bearing is getting a little noisy now; annoying as the actual clutch is still fine, but to replace the bearing, obviously it makes sense to do the clutch too. Only about £90 for the parts, but a few hours labour. Won't cost me anything but lying on the floor; I don't mind at this mileage though. Still goes like stink and has no error codes logged.

Incredible heater through the winter, and just an all around great car that simply cannot be beaten for the price. My Dad wants to change his flaky 1997 Jaguar for one, having seen how little it costs to keep this modern car going!

1998 Audi A4 SE 1.8 20V petrol


Probably a great car when new, but the years take their toll


The car broke down on way home, fuel pump randomly clicking on and off.

Aircon never worked, compressor knocked badly.

No main beams, then eventually no dip either.

Radio was either silent or full blast, hard to replace due to BOSE wiring.

ABS light would randomly flash over 80 mph.

Trip computer worked when it felt like it.

General Comments:

The A4 is marketed as a compact executive car, and as such is well equipped. Unfortunately time is not kind to these cars, and they age badly; my example was fitted with a new control module after water got under the carpet and fried the old one. This module controls the central locking etc, and is worth more than the car is worth. The car broke down after 3 miles with the fuel pump relay clicking merrily away to itself. For some reason when the battery was swapped for a charged one, it worked perfectly the rest of the time I had the car.

Also poor on the electric front is the light switch; mine would not select main beam, and eventually the dipped beam went away too. There are of course a vast array of switches available, so you physically have to have the old one with you when you order one, considering the switch was nearly the price of the car; I sold the car rather than replace it.

The BOSE radio was a total pain, it would come on a low volume, but if you tried to turn it up, it would either go silent or full volume; replacement is not a simple affair either.

The airbag light was always on, in fact every A4 I've ever seen has it illuminated, it seems to be a weak point. Also on the dash was the trip computer, which would sometimes cycle through its functions; other times it would randomly turn off, and other times it would only illuminate half the display. The self diagnostic functions are handy, but you really need to be able to turn the huge glowing symbol off for low fuel.

The climate control was most odd, emitting a series of groans from time to time. The aircon never worked, although the compressor clicked in with a thump and you manually had to turn it off. Also the temperature would fluctuate wildly even when set to 21 degrees.

Mechanically the car fared rather better. The 1.8 20v engine is extremely smooth, just not very powerful. It emits a lovely noise at high revs, and you will spend most of your time there as the car is geared lower than a Mondeo or Vectra. Even with the low gearing, it's no sprinter, acceleration is rather pedestrian. Rough idling was traced to a split vacuum hose.

Handling is brilliant, no other word for it, the A4 feels glued to the road, in a different league to the Mondeo, it feels like a hot hatch. Even with the rather mediocre 1.8 engine, it's possible to hustle down the back roads, yet the car is supple over bumpy city streets.

The car's main downfall was its woeful economy; although it was averaging 40 odd mpg on motorway journeys according to the computer, it was dreadful in town; it was not at all a rare occurrence to get the fuel consumption under 25mpg for a mix of town and country work. You could accept it in a bigger engined car, but not in a basic 1.8.

The car was rust free thanks to the galvanised shell, but the paint would mark at the slightest touch.

In short, the A4 was probably an excellent car when new, but it is distinctly in banger territory in its later years. The excess of electronics will kill it long before it fails mechanically.

Overall, I enjoyed my 3 months of ownership, but I was glad to see it drive away.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 4th June, 2011