A4 Avant Matches Sports with Work
Many manufacturers have adopted the generic terms sportswagon but the concept has its origins in Europe where compact, agile and stylish wagons are highly favoured. Audi has long been a master of the sports wagon, having coined the name Avant (meaning ‘speed’) for its 100 CD estate more than two decades ago. Don’t expect Falcon levels of room though because in Europe the sportswagon is not chosen principally as a heavy hauler but rather as more versatile and spacious alternative to a sedan.
What You Get
The A4 Avant is offered with a choice of three engines, 1.8 and 2.0-litre turbo petrol units and a 2.0-litre turbodiesel.
The most powerful of these three, the larger petrol engine is offered only in combination with quattro all-wheel drive and a dual-clutch automated seven-speed manual gearbox. This was the variant tested by Car Showroom.
Under The Hood
The combination of 155 kW of power available right through from 4300 to 6000 rpm and 350 Nm of torque from just 1500 rpm to 4200 goes a long way to explaining not only the Avant’s superb performance but also its quite astonishing fuel economy.
At highway speeds, the engine is typically operating between 1200 and 1800 rpm: you float on a cloud of torque. With the tachometer needle showing just 1600 rpm at 100 km/h, revs were at V8 levels. On a long, mixed run with plenty of cruising at 110 km/h, the Audi managed to consume just 6.0 litres per 100 kilometres. From a car that can sprint to 100 km/h in 6.6 seconds that’s a great result.
Indeed, you begin to question the need for a diesel engine, let alone the added complexity of hybrids.
Among the sub-stratospheric automotive manufacturers (so leaving Rolls-Royce and Bentley out of it!), Audi continues to be judged number one for its interiors.
The high quality of the materials including the ‘Milano’ leather upholstery and all the plastics used throughout would be in keeping with a much dearer car. Although there is quite a generous cargo area when the rear seat is folded down, the A4 Avant could not swallow the kind of load that is effortlessly swallowed by a Falcon or even a Commodore Sportswagon.
Exterior & Styling
This new generation A4 has much more appeal than earlier models and also translates nicely into wagon guise. Audi’s standout jewellery-style headlights are a key design element. The proportions are elegant and this is one sportswagon that looks smart from every angle.
On The Road
The A4 is still engineered primarily as a front-wheel drive model but the latest generation has better dynamics and feels notably more poised.
Because the front axle has been moved forwards there is less understeer. Turn-in is quicker.
Although the steering is a touch light, it is very quick and contributes to the sporting character of this impressive wagon. The ride is a finely judged compromise between hard-edged (and hard) sporting and luxuriously soft.
Australian buyers expect too much of their wagons and the A4 Avant does not represent a viable alternative to a full size Aussie-style load-carrier.
Is the compact wagon at risk of losing sales to sedans on the one hand and SUVs (the Audi Q5 springs to mind) on the other? Before the Avant, Car Showroom tested the Q5 which proved more amenable to carrying a bulky load, although less surefooted.
In its overall mix of abilities the A4 Avant is the equal of any of its compact sportswagon peers with the all-wheel drive of this $65K variant being a decisive advantage for those who want to visit the snowfields.
The blend of exhilarating performance and thrifty fuel consumption is a standout feature.
The BMW 3 Series Touring and Mercedes C-Class wagons are its obvious rivals, although neither quite matches the topline Avant as described here on value – indeed, you can spend some $50K more on a BMW 335i Touring. Premium variants of the less expensive Subaru Outback are worthy rivals but they lack the handling crispness and thoroughbred sporting feel of the Audi.
advanced dual-clutch transmission, exterior and interior elegance, fuel economy
cargo space limited by vehicle size, user-unfriendly audio control