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Audi A4 Avant Review

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Overall

For

The A4 Avant outdoes all of its rivals for cabin quality and cruising refinement. It’s practical, rides comfortably (with the right suspension options), and Ultra versions are impressively frugal.

Against

It’s not as much fun to drive as a BMW 3 Series and models with non-adaptive sports suspension have a firm ride. Some rivals offer more space.

Summary

The Audi A4 Avant is one of our favourite estate cars. It’s classy, practical and great to drive. Every version is excellent, but the 3.0 TDI 218 is the pick of the bunch.

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Performance

The entry-level 1.4 TSI petrol needs to be worked hard, but it’s certainly up to the job. The two 2.0 TFSI petrols provide strong acceleration, and the higher-powered version is very rapid indeed. The two four-cylinder 2.0-litre TDI diesel engines are strong and flexible, although we think the 188bhp version is worth paying for. Our favourite engine is the 3.0 TDI 218 - providing such effortless acceleration that the even quicker 3.0 TDI 272 seems unnecessary.

Ride & Handling

The A4 is available with four suspension set-ups. Ultra models come with passive sports suspension, which gives a slightly firm low-speed ride. We’d recommend the softer Comfort Dynamic suspension, providing a smooth ride over any surface. Adaptive Comfort and Adaptive Sport suspension allows you to choose an effective bias towards ride comfort or sporty handling. All versions handle well with plenty of grip and precise steering, while Quattro four-wheel drive versions provide extra traction.

Refinement

The petrol engines are impressively hushed, but the diesel engines stand out - they’re quieter and smoother than any rival. The 2.0-litre diesels are very refined, but the 3.0 V6 diesels models match luxury limos. The A4 suppresses road and wind noise better than its key rivals, especially with optional acoustic glazing fitted. Manual versions shift smoothly; the S Tronic dual-clutch automatic gearbox can be a tad jerky at very low speeds while the Tiptronic automatic ‘box is almost seamless.

Buying & Owning

The A4 Avant is far from cheap, but it costs much the same as its key rivals. More significantly, it’s likely to hold its value better than most. That’s good news for private buyers and contributes to competitive contract hire rates for business users. The engine are all efficient, especially the Ultra diesel models, which offer real tax benefits for company car users. Audi’s inclusive servicing packages aren’t as good value for money as some, but at least you know what you’ll be paying.

Quality & Reliability

Most Audi interiors have a real wow factor and the A4 Avant’s is no exception – it has by far the most luxurious cabin in its class. The materials and design are first-rate and the attention to detail is impeccable, with controls that look great and operate with satisfying precision. The latest A4 is too new to have featured in any reliability surveys, but Audi as a brand doesn’t have a great record – it finished 34th out of 37 brands in our most recent reliability survey.

Safety & Security

The A4 was awarded a five-star safety rating by Euro NCAP. Six airbags are standard and all versions come with city emergency braking as standard – a clever system than can automatically apply the brakes at low speeds to prevent you running into the car in front. A range of advanced active safety systems are available as options. Security experts Thatcham awarded it the maximum five stars for resisting being stolen, and four stars for withstanding a break-in

Behind The Wheel

The A4 Avant’s seats are comfortable and supportive in all models, and there’s a good range of adjustment for the seats and steering wheel. The pedals are slightly offset on manual versions. Electric lumbar adjustment is standard on pricier models and it’s a worthwhile option for lesser versions. The dashboard is well laid out, but Audi’s MMI control system isn’t as intuitive as BMW’s iDrive. Visibility is reasonably good, although the standard rear parking sensors are welcome.

Space & Practicality

The A4 Avant is a very practical family car, with lots of space for two tall adults up front good head and leg room in the back. Not as roomy as a Passat Estate, but it’s a match for the 3 Series Touring and Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate. Access is good, too, and there are useful storage spaces. The boot is bigger than most rivals’ and its wide opening, low load lip and regular shape are especially practical. There’s a powered tailgate. Split/folding rear seats fold flat, add to the versatility.

Equipment

The A4 Avant comes with a fairly comprehensive standard of equipment. Entry-level models get three-zone climate control, xenon headlights, rear parking sensors, a powered tailgate, keyless start, Bluetooth and DAB radio. However, we’d recommend upgrading to Sport trim because this gets you all-important sat-nav, and a pair of more supportive sports seats in the front. Range-topping S line trims brings mostly styling upgrades but you still have to pay extra for full-leather seats.