Audi A4 Avant estate
Price £27,880 - £40,880
- High quality interior
- Lots of hi-tech equipment
- Big boot
- Expensive options
- Jerky auto gearbox
- Firm ride on big wheels
At a glance
“The Audi A4 Avant is a desirable, practical and high-quality estate car with a luxurious and comfortable interior.”
The Audi A4 Avant is a premium estate car that counts the BMW 3 Series Touring and Mercedes C-Class Estate as direct rivals. While cars like the Skoda Superb Estate, Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer and Ford Mondeo Estate perform a similar function to the Audi for significantly less money, they can’t quite match the A4 Avant's outright badge appeal. The Audi also features a nicer interior than any of its rivals, even if it's not quite as much fun to drive as the BMW 3 Series Touring.
The A4 Avant is available with three petrol engines and four diesels, while the option of Audi's quattro four-wheel-drive system provides extra grip, should you need it. Broadening the range further is the Audi A4 Allroad (which we’ve reviewed separately) with its more rugged looks and raised ride height, there's also a high-performance S4 version available and the hugely exciting Audi RS4, which is due to be released later this year.
The entry-level engine is a 148bhp 1.4-litre petrol, which can go from 0-62 mph in nine seconds, returns 51.4mpg and costs £130 a year to tax thanks to CO2 emissions of 131g/km. There's also a 2.0-litre petrol engine, available with either 187 or 249bhp. The less powerful of these falls into the same road tax bracket as the 1.4-litre, while fuel economy figures of 48.7 and 46.3mpg respectively are impressive, especially considering the 187bhp model can go from 0-62mph in 7.5 seconds. The 249bhp engine has four-wheel drive as standard, costs £130 a year in road tax, and manages 0-62mph in six seconds dead. The quickest petrol version will be the S4, which uses a twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 to produce 349bhp. this is enough, alongside four-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic gearbox - to get it from 0-62mph in just 4.9 seconds. Despite this prodigious power output, running costs shouldn't be too prohibitive, wither, returning 37.7mpg, while CO2 emissions of 171g/km means a £210 annual tax bill.
In reality, the A4 Avant will be most popular with a diesel engine. There are two to choose from: a 2.0-litre and a 3.0-litre, both are available in two power outputs. We think the sweet spot of the range is the cheaper 2.0-litre diesel with 148bhp. If you choose the efficiency-orientated ‘Ultra’ version of this engine, the A4 Avant can return 70.6mpg, costs just £20 a year to tax, yet will still go from 0-62mph in 9.2 seconds. At the other end of the scale, the 268bhp 3.0-litre diesel gets the A4 Avant from 0-62mph in just 5.4 seconds, costs £130 a year in road tax and returns 53.3mpg; it's expensive, though, at over £40,000.
On the road, the A4 Avant has accurate, well-weighted steering, making it easy to place accurately. Potholes and poor road surfaces cause little disturbance thanks to the well set-up suspension, though the larger wheels of the top-spec S line model do adversely affect this. The rear-wheel-drive BMW 3 Series Touring is ultimately a more engaging car to drive, but the A4 Avant is comfortable, competent and relaxing.
The A4 Avant's trump card is its interior. While Audi has long been known for its well designed dashboards, the A4 Avant benefits from high-quality materials, well designed and easy-to-use controls and Audi's new (and optional) ‘Virtual Cockpit’, which replaces the traditional dashboard dials with a high-resolution customisable digital screen.
There's plenty of space front and back for adult passengers, while the 505-litre boot is larger than the 3 Series Touring or Mercedes C-Class Estate's – although the slightly less upmarket Skoda Superb Estate and Volkswagen Passat Estate offer bigger load areas.
Audi offers the A4 Avant in three trim levels. The entry-level SE model comes with DAB radio, keyless go, a powered bootlid, air-conditioning, a leather steering wheel, alloy wheels and cruise control, as well as Audi's smartphone interface. Moving up to Sport trim brings sat nav, sport seats and an upgraded stereo for about £1,000, while the top-of-the-range S line trim costs about £1,500 more than Sport. It includes larger alloy wheels, LED headlights, a subtle bodykit and part-leather seats. Interestingly, Audi doesn’t include full leather seats in any of these trims; Mercedes, on the other hand, fits all C-Class models with (synthetic) leather seats as standard.
While the A4 Avant is too new a car to have featured in our 2016 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, Audi's 21st-place finish out of 32 manufacturers is somewhat uninspiring. Everything in the Avant feels very well put-together, though. The A4 Avant's excellent safety credentials are drawn from the A4 saloon, which scored a reassuring five stars in its Euro NCAP assessments.
A great range of petrol and diesel engines means the Audi A4 Avant is pretty cheap to run
Although it prioritises comfort over sporty handling, the Audi A4 Avant is still good to drive
Inside, the Audi A4 Avant looks and feels like a very high-quality machine
The Audi A4 Avant beats its closest rivals for practicality
With a good amount of standard safety equipment, the Audi A4 Avant doesn’t disappoint in this area