VERDICT: Bristling with technology and boasting some class-leading safety and lighting features, the new A4 Avant, although priced at more than $66k represents good value if you’re shopping at this end of town. The A4 Avant drives well and is roomy and should be on your shortlist if you’re after a premium load hauler, although the lack of a diesel in the range might put some people off.
2016 Audi A4 Avant - Pricing:
- A4 Avant 2.0 TFSI S tronic - $63,900+ORC
- A4 Avant 2.0 TFSI quattro S tronic - $72,900+ORC
Audi released the A4 Sedan back in March and followed up, late in April, with the release of its wagon sibling, the A4 Avant (which is just Audi-speak for wagon). One of the mainstays of the Audi brand, the A4 owes its beginnings to the Audi 80 which launched in 1972 and gave way, after four generations, to the A4 in 1994. By 2011, the A4 had racked up a staggering 5 million sales.
So, to say it’s a key model for the brand is an understatement. And, to highlight that fact, Audi has packed this new A4 Avant with the sort of gear you normally only find on more expensive vehicles. And this is particularly the case with some of its safety systems, including the standard matrix LED headlights with dynamic turn indicators. There’s also a cost-optional rear seat tablet option, allowing rear seat passengers to watch movies, listen to music or, annoyingly, set a route on the sat-nav.
Beyond the new technology it’s the rear end that’s the headline grabber with the launch of this wagon. The A4 Avant now offers 505 litres of storage space with the rear seats in place, which is a 15 litre improvement. The load lip is scratch protected and just 63 centimetres off the ground, and the tailgate can be opened simply by poking your foot under the rear bumper.
The A4 Avant is available only with a 2.0 TFSI turbocharged four-cylinder engine available in two states of tune. The entry-level 2.0 TFSI produces 140kW and 320Nm of torque between 1450-4200rpm and is mated to a seven-speed S tronic transmission. Combined fuel consumption is 5.6L/100km. The high-output version produces 185kW and 370Nm of torque between 1600-4500rpm and is also mated to a seven-speed S tronic transmission. Fuel consumption is a claimed 6.6L/100km.
Our drive of the new A4 Avant wasn’t a long one, and much of the drive was at night and on streaming wet and winding roads on the North Coast of NSW. But, based on a limited first impression, we can honestly say that the 2.0L engine in entry-level tune has all the grunt you’d ever need. Indeed, with peak torque (and this is the important figure) arriving at just off idle (1450rpm) and sticking around until 4200rpm the thing has a real diesel-esque attitude.
The engine works well with the seven-speed S tronic transmission is about as smooth as you could hope for. The steering has been tweaked over its predecessor and while there’s almost no feel through the wheel the weighting is consistent regardless of the speed, and there’s virtually no vibration through the wheel, or indeed, body, even when the road surfaces start to deteriorate.
In terms of the ride, Audi has managed to weed out some of the harshness of the old A4, particularly at the front, by fitting a new five-link axle that gets clever mounts designed to offer stiffness when cornering but be soft to filter out vibrations from up and down movements. Even on the entry-level car without active suspension, the ride is comfortable and yet composed enough that it won’t go to pieces should you want to have some fun.
Climb inside the A4 Avant and, like the A4 sedan, the interior feels like it’s from an even more expensive car… The entry-level A4 is bigger on the inside than its predecessor with front seat passengers getting between 11mm and 24mm of additional shoulder and headroom, respectively. Over in the back there’s an additional 23mm of legroom, which doesn’t sound like much but translates into a comfortable backseat. I set the front seat into my normal driving position, and I’m 5ft 11in and had a reasonable amount of legroom in the back.
The dashboard looks beautiful and everything you touch feels nice with no hard, scratchy plastic anywhere. One of the features I really liked was the almost full-width air vents running across the dashboard (rear seat passengers also have their own vents and controls for heating and air-conditioning), and Audi’s MMI communication and infotainment with its tablet-style display looks beautiful and is easy to use.
The entry-level A4 Avant offers an analogue speedometer and tachometer with a 7.0-inch colour screen in between that can display everything from the speed via a digital readout, music or navigation, and Audi’s navigation system even offers a Google Earth view. Of course, if you want to spend a little more, you can get the optional virtual cockpit which replaces the analogue dials with a full 12.3-inch LCD display.
In terms of safety, the new A4 Avant gets a five-star ANCAP rating after being tested by EuroNCAP. Beyond that the new A4 gets, as standard, LED headlights that feature a range of situation specific features, including motorway lights and dynamic turn indicators which look very cool in action. For an additional $1700 you can get LED Matrix headlights which feature a camera inside them that is able to tweak the headlights so as not to dazzle oncoming traffic, or the driver with light reflection off signs. There are eight airbags, traction and stability controls, attention assist which will alert the driver if the system detects a lapse in concentration, there’s an active bonnet for pedestrian safety, autonomous emergency braking that works at up to 85km/h, and there’s also a pre sense rear system that works to mitigate rear-end collisions.
2016 Audi A4 Avant - Key Features:
2.0 TFSI sport
- 18-inch alloy wheels
- LED headlights with adaptive function and dynamic rear indicators
- MMI Navigation plus with 8.3-inch screen, MMI touch, DVD player, 10GB music storage, live traffic and 5 included map updates
- Audi connect
- Audi Smartphone interface (Apple Carplay and Android Auto)
- 7.0-inch high-resolution colour Driver Information Screen
- Sport front seats including electric front seats with electric lumbar support
- Sport steering wheel with shift paddles, leather-appointed seats
- 3-zone climate control, deluxe automatic air-conditioning with rear display
- New Audi Music Interface, with 2 USB connectors
- DAB+ digital radio
- Convenience key with hands-free opening and closing for tailgate
- Auto dimming centre mirror
2.0 TFSI quattro sport (in addition to 2.0 TFSI sport)
- 19-inch Audi Sport alloy wheels
- Sport suspension
- Audi sound system (180w, 10 speakers, with subwoofer)
- Memory driver’s seat
- Folding exterior mirrors, with heating, dimming and memory functions
Technik Package - $2,100: Virtual cockpit; and Heads-up display (HUD).
S-Line sport package - $5,000 (2.0 TFSI), $3,200 (2.0 TFSI quattro): 19-inch Audi Sport alloy wheels; S line exterior package; S line interior detailing; Black headlining; Sport suspension (where not already standard); Leather/Alcantara upholstery; Flat-bottom steering wheel; and Additional colour/trim options.