Audi A4 Avant estate
Price £25,985 - £41,985
- Top-notch interior
- Efficient range of engines
- Spacious boot
- Not exciting to drive
- High price tag
- Not as efficient as BMW 3 Series
At a glance
"The A4 Avant has all the luxury and grown-up driving dynamics of the saloon, but with an added dose of practicality."
The Audi A4 Avant competes with executive estates such as the BMW 3 Series Touring and, to a lesser extent, the Mazda6 Tourer. The Avant provides the same quality feel as you would get in the Audi A4 saloon, but offers a bigger boot that is a better shape for carrying large items.
The Audi may not be as fun to drive as the BMW 3 Series, but it is extremely comfortable and it has one of the best interiors in its class. The A4 Avant shares its range of engines with the normal A4, and that's a good thing because it means you get to choose from frugal diesels up to a very quick 4.2-litre petrol.
Buyers can choose from numerous specifications starting from SE and moving up to SE Technik, and S-line models. Customers also have the option of the four-wheel drive Allroad models and the high-performance RS4.
MPG, running costs & CO2
In late 2011 all engines were made more efficient
Unusually, Audi has two running cost champions in the A4 Avant range. The 2.0-litre TDIe model is capable of an impressive 64.2mpg and emissions of 116g/km, attracting a tax bill of just £20 a year. But the newer Ultra version of the same engine matches the TDIe for fuel economy and emits marginally less CO2 (although the road tax bill is the same) despite it producing more power. The £1000 premium is one that's worth paying for the extra performance, making the Ultra our recommendation.
Other 2.0-litre diesel options include a 148bhp version (60.1mpg and 124g/km) and a 176bhp model that's offered with the choice of manual or two kinds of automatic gearbox as well as two- and four-wheel drive. Audi claims fuel economy of between 51.4 and 58.9mpg and emissions ranging from 126 to 144g/km, costing between £110 and £145 a year to tax.
Topping the range is the 3.0-litre diesel. It's 47.9mpg and emissions of 154g/km (£180 a year) are impressive given the performance on offer.
The petrol engine that gives the best mix of performance and economy is the 168bhp 1.8-litre TFSI. The cheaper 118bhp 1.8-litre model is hard to recommend as it doesn't reward the driver with significant economy gains as compensation for its lack of power. The 2.0-litre, 223bhp model shares its petrol engine with the Volkswagen Golf GTI and provides plenty of power but comparably poor fuel consumption - it'll struggle to acheive 40mpg.
Opt for the top-of-the-range Audi S4 or RS4 models, though, and you had better prepare yourself for some considerable running costs.
Audi main-dealer services, meanwhile, won’t come cheap, but they will add value to your car when you come to trade it in.
Engines, drive & performance
A great all-rounder but lacking a little bit of excitement
If you want an executive estate that is fun to drive then the BMW 3 Series Touring is still the car to go for, but that’s not to say the Audi should be ignored. It has direct steering, limited body lean, and plenty of grip in the corners. Opting for the SE model spec means you get the more comfortable suspension, while Quattro models have four-wheel drive to give the car more grip and to help when driving on slippery roads or in bad weather.
Even the basic petrol A4 gets from 0-60mph in 10.5 seconds, while the newly-launched Ultra model combines huge fuel economy with a 0-60mph time of 8.3 seconds, making it our pick of the range. Forget rattly eco models of days gone by - the Ultra model is smooth, refined and powerful - only getting noisy when you really put your foot down.
None of the other 2.0-litre diesel models offer enough of a performance boost to justify the increase in running costs. And the 3.0-litre version, as good as it is, is destined to remain a niche choice.
The petrol engines are refined and offer a suprising turn of speed, entry-level 1.8 apart. The 2.0-litre uses the turbocharged engine from the Golf GTI and is hot hatchback fast. If you just want a performance car with the boot of an estate, the S4 and RS4 models can get from 0-60mph in just 5.1 and 4.7 seconds respectively.
Interior & comfort
Top-notch cabin quality and comfortable suspension
Probably the best thing about an Audi is its interior. The firm has got an excellent reputation for building cabins that feel solidly constructed, are good to look at, and are easy to use, and the A4’s is all of those.
Something less positive that Audis have also become known for is their stiff suspension set up, but on the latest version of the A4 this should only be a problem if you spec larger alloy wheels.
To give the A4 the quiet cabin you would expect of an executive saloon, Audi has given the A4 plenty of insulation, so wind, road, and engine noise are all kept to a minimum.
Practicality & boot space
The spacious boot is well shaped and easy to access
The Audi has enough space to fit four adults comfortably, and though some may find headroom in the rear is a little tight, legroom should be fine. The driver’s seat also has plenty of adjustment, so getting comfortable behind the wheel shouldn’t be difficult, either.
The Avant’s boot is smaller than the BMW 3 Series Touring’s but only slightly. It offers 490 litres of space with the rear seats folded up and 1,430 litres with them folded down. The rear seats don’t fold completely flat but there is no load lip and a wide boot opening, so loading in most items is easy and the boot also has nets and D-rings to help you secure the load. Other useful storage areas include a decent sized glovebox, doorbins and cup holders.
Reliability & safety
Very few owners report problems with the A4 Avant
You would have thought a premium model such as the Audi A4 would perform well for reliability, but in our 2014 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey it came 110th out of 150 cars. Overall, the model finished a disappointing 80th out of 150 cars.
There are no such disappointments in terms of safety, though, thanks to the car’s five-star rating from Euro NCAP. It comes with six airbags and electronic stability control but can also be specced with clever gadgets such as active lane assist, which gently steers the car into its lane.
Price, value for money & options
The Audi seems expensive, but does come well equipped
When the Audi A4 was updated in 2011, prices went up slightly, but so did standard equipment levels. That means basic SE models come loaded with equipment that includes climate control, a 10-speaker stereo, fatigue detection, cruise control, and a Bluetooth phone connection. Moving up the range, meanwhile, brings standard-fit items such as a leather interior and sat-nav. We would advise caution when ticking boxes on the options list, though, because they quickly hike up the car’s price and you’re unlikely to recoup the money you spend on extras when you come to sell the car.
Audi’s have some of the best second-hand values in the business, which means they look like good value in the long term. The high-performance RS4 models will lose their value quicker than any other version of the Avant, however.