Audi R8 (2007-2015)

Entering a new market segment often ends in tears, but when Audi unveiled its first ever supercar in 2006, it hit the bull’s eye. Pitched against some seriously capable rivals, the Audi R8 wasn’t just their equal – it could beat them. But despite genuine supercar looks and performance, the R8 is as easy to use as an A3 or A4, while running costs tend to be significantly lower than for similar machinery available elsewhere. With standard four-wheel drive to help get the power down, and a choice of brilliant engines and transmissions, could this be the perfect supercar?

Key dates

10/06: The R8 breaks cover with a 414bhp 4.2 V8.

3/07: The first V8 coupés reach UK showrooms. 

3/09: There’s now a 518bhp V10 coupé.

3/10: A V10 Spyder is launched. 

7/10: The lighter, more powerful and more focused 552bhp R8 GT coupé appears. Just 33 come to the UK.

7/11: An R8 GT spyder is now available.

7/10: The Spyder is now offered in V8 form.

9/11: The V8 Limited Edition coupé debuts with navigation, Bang & Olufsen hi-fi, magnetic ride plus numerous interior and exterior trim upgrades.

7/12: A revised R8 comes with a new dual-clutch gearbox, LED lighting, extra kit and now 542bhp in V10 form.

10/14: The R8 LMX packs 562bhp V10 and laser headlights. Just 99 are sold globally.


  • Alloy wheels are easily kerbed and repairs can be expensive; replacement wheels are very costly.
  • Don’t pay a massive premium for a V10, when in the real world the V8 is just as quick and better balanced.
  • R8s without any extras are relatively basic, so check to see what options have been fitted. Many cars have thousands of pounds worth of extras.
  • The R8 doesn’t eat tyres like some rivals. But when fresh rubber is needed, the bill will be high.
  • Low-mileage cars can suffer from surprisingly high oil consumption. Things tend to settle down as the miles are racked up.
  • Engine warning lights can illuminate because of poor quality fuel being used or problems with damaged coil pack wiring.

We like

  • Performance
  • Handling
  • Build quality
  • Looks
  • Refinement
  • Easy to drive
  • Relative value

We don’t like

  • Ordinary cabin
  • Thirsty engines


Audi A3 (2003-2012)

When Audi introduced the original A3 in 1996 it created the first successful premium small hatch, and the car would go on to become hugely popular. It was with the second take on the formula though, that Audi really got into its stride. Sharing the Volkswagen Golf’s floorpan, the A3 featured a more upmarket interior and the understated styling for which the German brand is famous. With a lifespan of almost a decade, the second-generation A3 came with a huge choice of engines, trims, transmissions and bodystyles, which is why there’s bound to be one for you.

Key dates

5/03: The A3 Mk2 arrives with a wide choice of petrol and diesel engines.

7/04: A 2.0 TFSi (turbo petrol) joins the range, along with the five-door Sportback. 

5/06: A 2.0 TDi 170 is introduced, with optional quattro 4WD. 

10/06: A 1.8 TFSI debuts, alongside the quick S3.

5/07:  A 1.4 TFSi petrol engine is now available.

10/07: The ultra-frugal 1.9 TDie appears. 

4/08: The A3 cabriolet arrives, as the range is facelifted.

7/09: A 109g/km 1.6 TDi reaches showrooms; six months later its emissions are cut to 99g/km. 

1/10: A 1.2 TFSi engine debuts.


  • On manual cars, clutch judder suggests the flywheel is falling apart; it can happen after just 40,000 miles.
  • A3 radiators can prove fragile, with leaks possible after just 18 months. Look for signs of coolant at the base of the radiator.
  • Owners can get locked out of their cars if the door sensor microswitch fails. The doors lock themselves, with the keys left inside the car.
  • Steering racks of early cars are prone to failure; replacements are costly but racks to the later design tend to be more durable.
  • ECUs, electrics, electronics and associated sensors can all play up, so make sure all the warning lights go out and that everything works.

We like

  • Wide model range
  • Lots to choose from
  • Build quality
  • Strong engines
  • Strong image
  • Refinement
  • Comfy seats

We don’t like

  • Inert handling
  • Less reliable than you think
  • They’re everywhere
  • Three-door’s cramped rear seats
  • Firm ride of some models
  • High purchase costs


Richard Dredge


Audi TT (2006-2015)

One of the most distinctive cars on the road, the Audi TT has been hugely sought after ever since the first edition arrived in 1999. It’s easy to see why; superbly built, great to drive, surprisingly practical and with some superb engines, the TT is one of the easiest sportscars to own. While most of its rivals are incredibly compromised, with the Audi TT you don’t have to make too many sacrifices. In coupé form the hatchback configuration provides a surprising amount of carrying capacity while many cars come with four-wheel drive, so the fun can continue, whatever the weather.

 Key dates

4/06: The TT Mk2 arrives in 2.0 TFSi and 3.2 V6 coupé forms.

1/07: A roadster appears, with the same engines and no rear seats.

1/08: The TTS coupé and roadster debuts with a 268bhp 2.0 TFSi engine.

2/08: The 168bhp 2.0 TDi coupé and roadster appear.

4/09: The front-wheel drive 1.8 TFSi represents the new entry point.

9/09: The 335bhp 2.5-litre TT RS goes on sale.

4/12: The 355bhp TT RS Plus appears.

8/10: Revisions bring reduced CO2 emissions, a tweaked exterior design and more options.


  • Initially, the TT got leather/Alcantara trim as standard. Later, entry-level cars got cloth-trimmed seats.
  • The 2.0 TDi, TTS and TT RS have quattro four-wheel drive. Some 2.0 TFSi editions and all 1.8 TFSi models are front-wheel drive only.
  • Steering racks rattle and clutch pedals vibrate; some cars were fixed under warranty.
  • Cars on 19-inch wheels have a hard ride; 18-inch rims give the best balance of ride and looks.
  • The window regulator mechanism can break, especially on early cars. Sometimes it just creaks; other times it breaks.
  • Front seat bases can sag, especially on cars with leather trim. Some seats were replaced under warranty.

  • Some TTs have factory-fit parking sensors, some have aftermarket and some have none at all. Factory-fit items are the ones to go for.

  • The headlamp units can mist up – especially xenon units after the car has been washed.

We like

  • Sharp looks
  • Build quality
  • Efficient engine. 
  • Hatchback usability
  • Stylish cabin
  • 4WD security.

We don’t like

  • High purchase costs
  • Coupe’s useless rear seats

Richard Dredge


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Audi A4 (2008-2015)

The Audi A4 has always been desirable, but the Mk4 (internally known as the B8), launched in 2008, represented a quantum leap over its predecessors. Much better to drive than any previous edition, it also came with arguably the best cabin in the segment, sharp looks and a range of brilliant engines offering power and refinement with impressive economy. It’s no wonder the A4 was so popular, but that’s a double-edged sword as while there are plenty to choose from, the A4 is no longer exclusive. However, owners love them thanks to their brilliant build quality, refinement, spacious cabins and good dynamics. Buy one and you’re unlikely to be disappointed.

Key dates

2/08: An all-new A4 saloon arrives, with 1.8 TFSi or 3.2 FSi petrol engines along with 2.0 TDi, 2.7 TDi or 3.0 TDi diesel options.

6/08: The Avant estate appears, with the same engine, transmission and trim choices as the saloon. At the same time, a 2.0 TFSi engine arrives along with a 134g/km 120bhp 2.0 TDi option.

5/09: A pumped-up Avant reaches showrooms; the four-wheel Allroad, with 2.0 TFSi, 2.0 TDi or 3.0 TDi engines.

10/09: The 134bhp 2.0TDie arrives; with CO2 emissions of just 120g/km.

1/12: A facelift brings minor styling changes, extra colour choices, range-wide standard stop/start plus revised suspension and steering – along with an improved MMI system.


  •  The alloy wheels are easily kerbed, which often knocks the steering out of alignment. Not all cars come with parking sensors and visibility isn’t great, so check for poorly touched-in bumpers. 

  • Large wheels are popular. With firm suspension already giving a hard ride, make sure things aren’t too uncomfortable. 

  • Build quality is generally excellent, but some owners have found their cars suffer from squeaks and rattles that are hard to fix. 

  • Automatic gearboxes can be unreliable, especially the Multitronic continuously variable transmission. 

  • Some engines suffer from high oil consumption, especially the four-cylinder units. They can use up to a litre of oil every 1,000 miles. 

  • Clutches and gearboxes can prove short-lived, with dual-mass flywheels disintegrating, oil getting onto clutch plates, and gearboxes failing. 

  • Some tall drivers find it difficult to get comfortable, with the pedals offset. You might need a thorough test before this becomes an issue though.

 We like

  • Strong image
  • Build quality
  • Sharp looks
  • Cabin design
  • Spacious interior
  • Great engines
  • Refinement

We don’t like

  •  High repair cost
  • So-so dynamics


Richard Dredge



Audi A6 (2004-2011)

Beautifully built, ergonomically perfect and good (if not necessarily great) to drive, the A6 makes a great used buy; it also looks smart and is ultra-capacious in avant (estate) form. With a choice of great engines and the availability of quattro four-wheel drive, the A6 also makes an excellent tow car. Running costs can be steep on high-mileage cars though, thanks to high parts and labour costs, so buy with care.

Key Dates

3/04: The third-generation A6 saloon arrives with 2.4, 3.2 and 4.2-litre petrol engines, or a 3.0 TDi turbodiesel.

6/04: There's now a 2.0 TDi powerplant.

10/04: A 2.7 TDi engine joins the range.

1/05: The estate, or Avant, goes on sale.

12/06: The 2.4 is replaced by a 2.8FSi powerplant.

9/08: A facelift brings extra standard equipment, a revised nose and tail while a 3.0 TFSi engine supersedes the 3.2 and 4.2 FSi units. The eco-friendly 2.0 TDie also arrives.

Audi A6 (2004-2011) Checklist

  • The dual-mass flywheel can fail on 2.0 TDIs, leading to stalling and a failed clutch.
  • Manual-gearbox 2.0 TDis suffer from rough running, through injector seals melting because of poor-quality fuel being used.
  • The pollen filter seal can fail, leading to water leaking into the footwells.
  • A6 2.0TDis with the Multitronic gearbox can stall, because the transmission can't cope with engine braking.
  • Fuel gauges can read empty even when the tank is full.
  • A software upgrade might be needed to fix a fault with the electronic parking brake refusing to release.
  • The TDi engines can use a litre of oil every 1,000 miles.
  • Rear light cluster seals can fail, allowing water to get in.

We Like

  • Image
  • Build quality
  • Used value
  • Great engines
  • Refinement
  • Equipment levels
  • Capacious estate
  • quattro 4WD option

We Don't Like

  • Potentially high running costs


Audi A8 (2003-2010)

If you want value for money, nowhere will you find more of it than in the luxury segment - something the Audi A8 demonstrates only too well. Available at astonishingly low prices, the A8 offers everything at ridiculously low prices - and running costs needn't be high either. Offered with some fantastic engines, including some amazingly frugal diesels, the A8's aluminium construction helps when it comes to agility and fuel efficiency, while the standard fitment of quattro four-wheel drive also ensures the A8 is more sure-footed than most rivals too. What's not to like?

Key Dates

7/03: The second-generation A8 arrives, with 3.7 or 4.2 V8 petrol engines, or a 4.0 V8 turbodiesel.

4/04: There are now 3.0-litre petrol and diesel options plus a 6.0 W12 short-wheelbase A8.

3/05: All cars get extra standard kit, plus the full-depth grille of the W12.

6/05: There's now a 3.2 FSi engine available, along with a long-wheelbase option for most engines. A 4.2 V8 TDi supersedes the previous 4.2 unit.

3/06: W12 now offered with ceramic brakes

8/07: A 2.8 FSi option appears, plus the whole range gets revised lighting, grille and extra equipment

Audi A8 (2003-2010) Checklist

  • There's a lot of electrical and electronic kit fitted, so make sure it all works - even the bits that aren't immediately obvious.
  • The electric boot lids are especially temperamental, so try opening and closing the boot a few time.
  • The MMI is also particularly prone to glitches, but it can be rebooted.

We Like

  • Equipment
  • Build quality
  • Ergonomics
  • Reliability
  • Comfort
  • Value
  • Diesel engines
  • Four-wheel drive
  • Cabin space
  • Boot space

We Don't Like

  • Dynamically bland