"The A4 Avant has all the luxury and grown-up driving dynamics of the saloon, but with an added dose of practicality."
Thanks to a facelift late in 2011, the A4 Avant is now better to drive and kinder to the environment than ever. All of the engines have been made more efficient, the suspension has been tweaked to enhance the car's comfort on the road and the cabin – which was already one of the best in this class – has been made even better. Thankfully, the large and practical boot remains intact, cementing the A4 Avant's position as one of the finest all-round premium estates.
The A4 Avant is easy to drive thanks to its well weighted controls and direct steering. There's also a good range of engines, from the 2.0-litre diesel to a V8 petrol turbo. Excitement isn’t the Audi's strong point, and while it corners well, the steering doesn’t offer any information to the driver. Two-wheel-drive models are great value, but quattro versions perform best in slippery conditions.
The A4's cabin is well known to be one of the best in this price bracket and a facelift late in 2011 has made it even better. Some of the materials have been improved and controls simplified, making the Avant's interior a great place to spend time in. There's plenty of sound-deadening in place to reduce engine, wind and road noise, too. The suspension is well set up, but avoid the sportier S line trim level as it comes with a much more uncomfortable ride.
Audi A4 drivers have always had complete confidence in the build quality and reliability of their cars, with older models performing well in owner satisfaction surveys. The good news is that the Avant also feels incredibly well screwed together, with solid switchgear and not a flimsy piece of trim in sight.
Boot space with the rear seats up stands at 490 litres, and that will be enough to accommodate bags for the whole family. If you need to transport larger loads, the rear seats fold flat to boost capacity to 1,430 litres. Elsewhere in the cabin, the front and rear seats offer plenty of leg, shoulder and headroom.
Value for money
Last year's update brought more equipment and a price hike of just over £1,000. Climate control, 17-inch alloy wheels, fatigue detection and cruise control are now all standard. Pay an extra £1,000 and you get luxury kit like leather, sat-nav and parking sensors.
Audi also tweaked the most efficient 2.0-litre TDIe diesel engine as part of the recent update, so it now emits just 116g/km of CO2 and claims 64.2mpg economy. Stop-start and energy recuperation are now fitted across the whole A4 engine range, resulting in fuel efficiency improvements of as much as 21 per cent. That means the more powerful 160bhp 2.0 TDIe returns 62.8mpg and even the 201bhp 3.0-litre V6 TDI claims 55.4mpg in front-wheel drive.