"The A4 Avant is a spacious and classy rival to the BMW 3 Series Touring and Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate."
The A4 Avant is a practical yet stylish estate. Its boot is the biggest in the compact executive estate class, and the model has a luxurious interior. Like the A4 saloon, the Avant is offered with a wide choice of petrol and diesel engines - from 1.8 to 3.0-litres - and the choice of front or four-wheel drive. The most popular choice is the front-wheel drive 2.0 TDI diesel, which mixes fine performance with wallet-friendly fuel economy.
The Audi A4 Avant is an easy car to drive. Comfort is good, and there's little in the way of tyre, wind and engine noise. Diesel engines are a little noisy at idle, but at cruising speed are impressively quiet. Audi's quattro four-wheel-drive system comes as standard with the bigger, more powerful engines, yet we’d go for the front-wheel-drive models – they’re no less competent on the road, and no less enjoyable to drive.
Thanks to the spacious and beautifully finished interior, the A4 Avant has the most appealing cabin of any compact executive estate. It's quiet inside, while the seats provide plenty of support and excellent long-distance comfort. Only the firm suspension lets the A4 down.
Audi's A4 Avant is robustly built, as its five-star Euro NCAP safety test result proves. The A4 range ranked 24th out of 100 for build quality in the 2010 Driver Power survey, which is respectable, but behind its key BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class rivals. Quattro four-wheel drive offers grip on slippery surfaces, and all models get electronic stability control as standard.
The A4 Avant's boot is huge, and to make it even more useful Audi offers a range of optional load retention bars and straps. These stop shopping and luggage from slithering around once you are on the move. The rear seats fold, but they don’t lie completely flat. That means large, heavy loads can be difficult to slide in.
Value for money
The Audi A4 is cheaper than its premium BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class rivals. Standard equipment across the range is good, too, as even standard versions get alloy wheels, a leather steering wheel and air-conditioning, as well as reassuring levels of safety equipment. Spend a little extra on SE specification, and the A4 Avant comes with the kind of standard kit we’d expect in an executive car.
You’ll pay more for the A4 Avant than mainstream models, but you’ll get more for it when you come to sell it on, as the Audi holds its value well. Diesel engines deliver the best economy, but the 1.8 and 2.0 TFSI turbo petrol engines provide better performance and inexpensive running costs. The auto-only 2.7 and 3.0 TDI quattro diesels are less economical, and cost more to tax and service, too.