Audi A4 Avant

Versatile load-lugger joins revitalised A4 line-up.

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

The A4 has even more appeal in load-carrying Avant guise. It’s one of the sharpest-looking estates in the class, particularly in S line trim, and offers quality and driving pleasure in equal amounts. In fact, we think it’s so impressive, we’re left to wonder why anyone would want to opt for the A6 estate!

Audi's new A4 Avant arrives in UK showrooms next month, and it has the BMW 3-Series Touring and Mercedes C-Class Estate firmly in its sights.

The German trio will slug it out for sales among those drivers who want more practicality from their premium machines. And there’s no denying the Audi is a strong package.

As well as providing up to 1,430 litres of luggage space, the A4 Avant is distinctive to look at and competitively priced. And while it isn’t quite as roomy as Mercedes’ best-in-sector C-Class – which offers a 1,500-litre capacity – it doesn’t fall far short.

On top of this, Audi claims the latest A4 offers the most generous passenger compartment in the compact executive market, with plenty of head and legroom for occupants sitting in the back. Then there is that sharp styling, which comprises bold feature lines along the flanks, as well as dramatic LED headlamps.

The smart lines do little to disguise the sheer size of the new model – at first glance, the Avant is large enough to fool you into thinking you’re looking at the company’s A6 estate.

Adding to the big-car feel is the range of engines. Five units are available from launch, and the line-up is identical to that in the four-door. There is a choice of two petrol powerplants – a 1.8 TFSI and a 3.2-litre V6 – as well as three diesels with 2.0, 2.7 and 3.0-litre capacities.

It’s the all-new 2.0-litre TDI that is expected to account for most Avant sales. Audi is predicting that 77 per cent of buyers will choose this unit, mainly thanks to its impressive economy and low CO2 emissions.

It will initially come in 141bhp spec, with 118bhp and 167bhp versions to follow later in the year. Power delivery is smooth whatever the output, and the 167bhp car returns 40.5mpg on the combined cycle, plus has a carbon output of 154g/km.

Performance is punchy, too, with strong linear acceleration making the 2.0 TDI feel much quicker than the 8.6-second 0-60mph time suggests. What’s more, at idle it sounds less clattery than the 2.0 TFSI petrol.

The latter, which is available from October, will be offered with 177bhp or 208bhp. It also promises plenty of pace, with diesel-rivalling torque available from low revs. Backing up the potential of the engines is the Avant’s chassis. The extra space of the estate has done nothing to detract from the A4 saloon’s dynamics. There’s still an excellent balance between ride comfort, body control and agility, while the steering is precise.

The manual gearbox provides slick, easy shifts, and with six well spaced ratios ensures the car’s performance is easily accessible. Audi also offers the DSG twin-clutch manual, which further improves fuel economy and delivers rapid, fuss-free changes via the steering wheel-mounted panels.

Whether it’s a front-wheel-drive or quattro 4WD variant, the A4 blends relaxing motorway cruising with sharp responses when the mood takes you. There’s also Audi’s Drive Select package, which adjusts the throttle, power-steering and damper settings.

Inside, the A4’s cabin is one of the classiest around – not only is it beautifully finished, it’s also comfortable. And Audi’s usual attention to detail is apparent in the Avant’s boot, too. The luggage cover slides up conveniently to aid access to the load space, while the floor has a reversible liner with a wipe-clean surface. Bag hooks should mean your shopping stays in place on the way home.

These neat solutions are the icing on the cake for a smart all-rounder that’s more than a match for its BMW and Mercedes competitors.

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