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The Audi A4 ain’t no Apple

I’m fascinated by cars, and while I barely have enough cash to put petrol in my own one (an increasingly knackered Saab) it doesn’t stop me from daydreaming. Hmmm, a BMW M5 or an Audi RS4? That kind of thing. So there’s nothing I like more than being able to help someone who really isn’t into cars look at cars. I get all the fun without having to actually stump up the cash to buy a car, and I can persuade Mrs Bigmouth that the money I spend on car magazines is actually for a reason. Result!

So recently I’ve been comparing mid-range saloons – BMW, Lexus, Audi, Saab, that sort of thing. And by any sensible criteria the choice came down to two cars: BMW 320d and the new Audi A4 TDI, both of which cost roughly the same for the right spec (metallic paint, leather, some toys but not too many, etc). Given that I’ve always hated Beemers and loved Audis, the answer was obvious.

Until I looked at them.

The new Audi A4 is a cracking-looking car, but it’s trying just a little bit too hard. The word that kept popping into my mind was “PlayStation”. Electromechanical parking brake? PlayStation! Unncessarily jutting front spoiler? PlayStation! LED running lights? PlayStation! And so on. There’s something very fourteen-year-old-boy about it. It’s a good-looking car for sure, but it just feels as if it’s trying too hard. It feels like a top-end Dell. Lots of bells and whistles, but still a bog-standard PC (well, Volkswagen) underneath. Nothing wrong with bog-standard PCs (or Volkswagens), but when you’re paying the big money you want to feel a bit special.

And the BMW? It’s a Mac. Where the Audi’s interior is overdesigned, the BMW is designed. The former is a bit “explosion in Dixon’s” while the latter is much more restrained. Where the Audi exterior screams “look at me! Look at me!” the BMW doesn’t try too hard to attract your attention. Where the Audi has a high-tech handbrake, the BMW has a normal one. And just like a Mac the BMW is a little bit smug, and a little bit pricey, but you know that if you had one you’d be delighted that you’d bought one, and when you start mucking about with engines, options and the like you realise that actually, with the BMW you get more car for your money, and it’ll cost you less in the long run.

Nobody will ever let you out of a junction, mind you, but at least you’ll be happy sitting there.