What is it? This is the new Audi A4 Avant, an all-new version of Audi’s best-selling load-lugger
What’s new? Pretty much everything, not that you’d know to look at it.
Type of review: Taster test
The brand claims a best-in-class title for the Avant’s 505-litre boot capacity, extending to 1,510 litres with the rear seats down.
From the exterior it looks similar to its predecessor, though Audi insists nothing is retained from that model, and points to a sleeker shape offering a drag coefficient down to 0.26 while the aluminium-based platform and shell shaves the weight by as much as 110kg. As a result the new Avant can be up to 21 per cent more fuel efficient, with CO2 emissions cut by 25 per cent.
There are, it seems, engines for everyone – petrol and diesel, ranging from 148 to 268bhp and allied to six-speed manual, seven-speed S tronic or eight-speed tiptronic transmission and front or all-wheel drive. Notable among the powerplants are new 2.0-litre TFSI petrol and TDI diesel units, the latter with CO2 emissions down to 104g/km, while just coming on board is an entry-level 1.4 TFSI petrol unit.
What will probably attract most buyers, however, is the technology – from basic niceties such as the powered tailgate to the continuing delight that is the virtual cockpit.
What do we think of it? We were impressed with the latest version of the A4 saloon so we weren’t surprised by its load-carrying sister. The weight saving makes itself felt – indifferent Audi ride quality of the past is quickly forgotten as this car rides smoothly, offers highly refined comfort but if pushed will corner with confidence to a degree that is not at all estate-like.
Our test car is fitted with the more powerful 187bhp version of the 2-litre diesel. For the penalty of around 10 extra grams of CO2 and five less miles travelled per gallon, one gains distinctly more pace, the 62mph sprint dispatched 1.3 seconds more quickly than its 148bhp sister. It also feels more eager, without losing any of the refinement that Audi is now so known for.
The biggest highlight, however? The interior. It feels very upmarket as one slips inside, is roomy, and boasts some delightful technology. The virtual cockpit still impresses this reviewer with its ease of use and top-notch results – a sat nav screen stretching right across the dash is so user-friendly.
Verdict: The fact that the A4 Avant and its saloon sister takes so much of Audi’s volume demonstrates how right the maker has got this particular model, and the latest version simply improves the breed. It scores both in practicality, out-spacing its BMW and Mercedes rivals in all important areas, and in the sheer pleasure of being inside it and driving it. Audi can expect continuing big sales from this model.
Audi A4 Avant – key specifications
Tested model: Audi A4 Avant 2.0 TDI S line 190hp S tronic.
Price: £35,430 (Range starts £27,300).
On sale: Jan 2016.
Engine: 2.0 diesel, 187bhp, 295lbft.
0-62mph and max speed: 7.9sec, 143mph.
Economy and emissions: 64.2mpg (18-inch wheel 65.7), 116g/km (113).
Test date: April 2016.
The Car Expert Taster Tests are concise summaries of new models to the market, that we have driven for under 50 miles. They are often preludes to full road tests of the vehicle at a later date.