Audi A4 Avant Review
It’s been four years in the making and the new Audi A4 Avant is anything but a mild mid-term make-over. It boasts sportier styling and plenty of new kit, but has it been worth the long wait?
- Dynamic styling and good range of engines and trims to choose from
- Packed with the latest technology and easy-to-use touchscreen
- Room for all the family and their luggage too
- Some rivals handle better and are more fun to drive
- Steering can feel a little light at higher speeds
- Rear legroom restricted if front seats pushed back
Almost every exterior part on the 2019 Audi A4 Avant has been altered to make it more taut and dynamic. It boasts a more athletic front end, a raft of new highly efficient engines - many with mild hybrid systems - and a classy fresh interior design with new touchscreen technology.
Customers can choose from generously equipped trim levels called Technik, Sport, S line, Black edition and a luxurious Vorsprung option. There is a choice of 12 colours with a new Terra Grey shade and a total of seven turbocharged engines - four diesel, three petrol - with power outputs ranging from 136PS to 347PS.
These powertrains can be mated to six-speed manual, seven-speed S tronic or eight-speed tiptronic transmissions and there is front wheel drive or quattro all-wheel drive options.
On the Road
Anyone looking to buy the latest A4 Avant will have to put on their thinking caps because there is a lot of decision-making to do. Firstly, you will need to decide from the five trim levels. Then, it’s a question of powertrain and transmission with some of the latest engines also offering mild hybrid technology. Finally, it’s a choice between quattro all-wheel-drive or front-wheel drive.
We selected the non-hybrid 2.0-litre diesel 40 TDI quattro engine delivering 190PS and 400Nm of torque matched to a seven-speed S-tronic dual clutch transmission. This model could reach 62mph from a standing start in 7.6 seconds and maxed out at 143mph.
This is a car that effortlessly eats up the motorway miles, but enjoys the freedom of the open road where it can blast its way through the country lanes. The acceleration through the gears is perfectly timed and there are paddles if you fancy taking a little more control. The quattro system delivers excellent grip and any body roll into tight corners is non-existent.
Despite its size, measuring 4.7 metres in length, the A4 Avant is actually fairly agile and proved easy to manoeuvre through the congested traffic in busy town centres. A reversing camera and parking sensors help make parking the car a little easier too.
Audi drivers tend to prefer a good degree of comfort and refinement rather than out-and-out blistering pace and performance and that’s exactly what the A4 Avant delivers. It’s certainly not sluggish, but it feels quite mature with less of a hooligan attitude than some of its rivals.
However, by selecting the sportier S line trim, with sports suspension as standard, the car has sharper body control and stiffer ride and handling. But the price to pay for this added dynamism is in the comfort stakes - you can expect to feel more bumps and those larger alloy wheels are not the most forgiving either.
The steering is pretty sharp and accurate, but at times did feel a little light at higher speeds which was a tad unsettling.
The car does feel beautifully balanced though as it sweeps along the faster B roads and there are drive modes called Efficiency, Comfort, Auto, Dynamic and Individual that alter the way the car reacts with Dynamic proving the most rewarding for any driving purists out there.
Comfort mode is perfect for day-to-day driving with the other modes worth exploring when you want to see just what the car can offer.
Audi has really raised the bar with the latest A4 line-up and the A4 Avant S line is another example of this development. There is a far more dynamic front end thanks to new LED headlights, front bumpers, air inlets, side sections, wings, doors, tailpipe trims and rear light clusters. In fact, only the roof, boot lid and bonnet remain unchanged.
And the designers have upgraded the inside of the car too. There is a new infotainment system with a larger touchscreen and gone is the rotary click wheel. And the A4 range now gets Audi’s spectacular Virtual Cockpit set-up with various layouts to choose from.
The car is kitted out with the finest leather and Alcantara upholstery and there are smart contrasting inlays along with lots of soft-touch surfaces that help to raise the quality stakes.
When it comes to driving refinement, the A4 Avant is a class act. It’s not as dynamic or fierce as some rivals, but instead offers excellent levels of comfort. You are made to feel a little bit special and treated to fine surroundings and a nice quiet cabin environment thanks to highly effective insulation.
The test car was sitting on quite large 19-inch alloys, that as well as affecting fuel economy, also had an impact on the comfort levels. You will feel more bumps and dips than on smaller wheels. The sports suspension is also lowered by 23mm on the S line models which makes the ride a little less forgiving across rougher road surfaces.
In the car
The sports seats in the A4 Avant S line have ample adjustment, albeit manual, and the steering wheel also has plenty of tilt and telescopic movement so it’s easy to find the ideal driving position. Once settled, all dials, controls and readouts seem perfectly positioned for ease of use on the move.
The car has a very upmarket feel with rock grey leather/Alcantara upholstery and black headlining. Privacy glass is new to the S line range and the sports seats are embossed with the ’S’ logo as are the illuminated door sills.
The latest car features a free-standing 10.1-inch high-resolution touchscreen as standard and the system works similarly to a smartphone with swipe and pinch functions. The menus are clearly defined and simple to use. I did find the pinch function was a little fiddly and slow to react at times, but otherwise, it worked really well.
Audi’s excellent Virtual Cockpit with 12.3-inch full-colour digital instrument cluster is now standard in the latest model and this can be adapted according to taste. It looks really smart with the navigation map in the centre with traditional dials either side, but can be configured to driver requirements. It also means most systems can be accessed and controlled without taking your hands off the steering wheel.
The three-spoke leather, multi-function steering wheel (complete with ’S’ badging) is nicely weighted, and controlling or altering the display screen is a simple process. The chunky grab-handle gear stick is another nice feature.
On-board technology is plentiful with the likes of a full navigation system, heated front seats, reversing camera, a wireless phone charger, deluxe three-zone climate control, full smartphone connectivity and much more besides.
With estate car dimensions, measuring more than 4.7 metres in length, you would expect the A4 Avant to have the practicality bases covered and it does just that. There is room for a couple of adults in the back or three children, but the dynamic nature of the S line model with its sports seats does mean legroom is tight if the seats are pushed back too far. There is also quite a large central tunnel which means any middle seat passenger would have their feet straddling it.
The power-operated boot can swallow a decent amount of kit with a capacity that ranges from 495 litres to 1,495 litres with the rear seats dropped flat and there are a number of handy storage compartments throughout the car. These include deep door pockets, a large lockable glovebox, armrest, cup holders, rear seat pockets and a new storage compartment in front of the gearstick thanks to space that has been freed up by ditching the rotary dial. Nets and straps in the boot will prevent items from rolling around.
The car is quite low to the ground so gaining access to rear child seats might be an issue, as would entering and exiting the vehicle for anyone with mobility problems.
The Audi A4 Avant test car was priced at £37,635, although a number of optional extras saw the final cost rise to £42,535. This may seem quite steep but it’s worth remembering that this car competes against the likes of the Jaguar XE and Mercedes C-Class, both of which also carry premium price-tags.
According to official figures, the A4 Avant S line can deliver combined fuel economy of 44.1mpg with a carbon emissions figure of 140g/km. This CO2 figure would result in a Vehicle Excise Duty cost of £210 for the first year which would be reduced to £145 after that. However, it’s worth watching what optional extras you select as cars priced more than £40k have an additional surcharge of £320 for the first five years.
The test model would have a Benefit in Kind rating of 32 per cent, increased by four per cent to 36 per cent as it is diesel-driven.
The insurance rating for the A4 Avant 40 TDI quattro 190PS S line s tronic is group 30.
Audi has come under some criticism in recent years concerning reliability. The main complaint has been the electrics on the cars letting them down, but this is an area the company has worked hard to address.
And although it is too early to state categorically how reliable the new A4 Avant will be, the car feels very solid in its build and features materials and trim that look durable.
The chunky grab-handle gearstick is nice and sturdy and the doors close with a reassuring thud. The touchscreen looks amazing, but may prove susceptible to fingerprints and smudges over time, but these can easily be wiped clean.
The vehicle comes with Audi’s three year, 60,000-mile warranty.
Audi has an excellent reputation for developing safe, secure cars that protect occupants and pedestrians alike and the A4 Avant is no exception to that rule. The car is based on the A4 model which received the maximum five-star safety rating when it was tested by Euro NCAP in 2015.
It boasts plenty of the more traditional safety specifications, such as cruise control with speed limiter, high beam assist, anti-lock brakes, Isofix fixtures and airbags.
But our car also had a Driver Assistance Tour Pack costing an extra £1,250. This added adaptive cruise assist with stop & go and traffic jam assist. The pack also includes predictive efficiency assistant, camera-based traffic sign recognition, collision avoidance, turn assist and active lane assist. And finally, the extra cash gets you Audi pre-sense front that detects pedestrians or vehicles ahead and then warns the driver accordingly. If these warnings are ignored, the car will automatically take action to reduce speed.
Audi’s excellent Matrix LED headlights, which offer superb lighting of the road ahead without dazzling oncoming motorists, are available on the highest trim levels.