HANDLING ON TIGHT CORNERS MAKES IT EASY TO FORGET AUDI’S A4 AVANT IS NOT A SEDAN
SUVs are the flavour of year — last year, this year and definitely the one after — but Kiwis are still fans of the station wagon, as Audi New Zealand knows.
Four months after the launch of the A4 sedan, Audi New Zealand now has the Avant (aka wagon) for sale — with customers snapping up vehicles as soon as they get here.
The Avant comes in four models, just like the sedan: two petrol and two diesel versions.
The TFSI Design petrol has a 2-litre petrol engine producing 140kW of power and 320Nm of torque and is priced at $75,400 (up $3500 on the sedan).
Driven’s test model, the 2-litre petrol TFSI Quattro Sport, had its power dialled up to 185kW with 370Nm of torque and is $93,400.
The two diesel versions are the 2-litre 140kW and the 3-litre 200kW Quattro Sport, priced from $87,400 and $109,900 respectively.
Like the sedan the A4 Avant is paired with Audi’s seven-speed s-tronic transmission, whereas the 3-litre diesel gets the option of damping control.
The Avant sits on 18in alloys, with the option to spec up to 19in – just like the sedan.
The Avant has 505 litres of storage, over the sedan’s 480 litres, and is 4725mm long.
It retains the new headlights as the sedan and has sculptured lines on the side with the extended roofline arcing down to the tailgate.
The power-operated boot is a handy addition to the wagon and the rear seat is a 40:20:40 split making it practical when it comes to loading up the rear.
The Avant also has Audi’s fabulous new virtual cockpit, which was first seen in the TT sports coupe.
The only downside inside the station wagon is that the sloping roof limits head space for rear passengers.
The Audi Avant’s main competitors are BMW’s 3 Series Touring and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate and the German competitors are all about the same price.
I have tested all three of the European premium wagons, with the 3 Series impressing on the snow in Queenstown thanks to its xDrive, whereas the C-Class estate converted me again to station wagons thanks to its styling and handling of urban environments.
The Audi A4 Avant also makes you put it on your SUV shopping list; although it lacks the popular road height you find in crossovers, it’s a great handling vehicle that is not too bulky for everyday life and, unlike some, is simple to park.
The Avant drives similarly to the A4 sedan and has the same set up in Drive Select modes with Comfort great for around town and Dynamic a bonus when heading out of the city and on to the motorway and beyond.
Thanks to the addition of Audi’s four-wheel-drive Quattro system to the Avant, the wagon was sure-footed when I encountered winter conditions on the road — especially south-facing corners early in the morning that made the road slippery.
Heading into the sunlight and onto the motorway, I dialled in Dynamic mode with the transmission moving into Sport mode, sharpening the gear box’s response and giving the wagon more pep when I planted my foot on the accelerator.
The Avant’s Quattro system also came to the fore when I turned off the motorway and onto a country road where there was an open speed limit.
It was easy to forget that the A4 was a station wagon rather than a sedan with the way it handled tight corners at speed.
And when you compare it with a taller SUV and the way that some of them handle corners at speed, it makes me wonder why more Kiwis aren’t following the trend of the A4 Avant buyers and going wagons ho.