What is it?
There are few cars with such a longstanding presence in the market as the Audi A4. It bridges a variety of needs for all manner of drivers, from those who want performance to those who favour practicality above all else. Needless to say, it’s been hugely popular, with more than 7.5 million examples of the A4 produced in the more than 25 years it has been on sale.
Today, we’re taking a closer look at the spacious Audi A4 Avant, which brings the refinement of the saloon but with the added spaciousness of an estate car.
The Audi A4 range was given an update relatively recently, bringing a dynamic new look as well as some new interior features. It’s safe to say that the exterior design definitely represented a case of evolution rather than revolution, but given that few would’ve said the previous-generation A4 was a bad-looking car, we can’t blame Audi for being tentative.
Inside, there’s a new infotainment screen and Audi’s excellent Virtual Cockpit digital dial setup.
What’s under the bonnet?
Choice is the name of the game with the A4’s engine choices. There’s a decent variety of powertrains to choose from, ranging from conventional petrol and diesels, to plug-in hybrids and performance-orientated setups in cars like the S4 and RS 4.
The 2.0-litre, 187bhp turbocharged diesel will no doubt find favour with many due to its impressive fuel consumption and torquey, responsive power delivery. That said, many of the petrol engines are far more efficient than you may expect.
What’s it like to drive?
The A4 Avant is tasked with a difficult job of combining a sporty driving experience with that level of refinement that people expect from an Audi. Fortunately most versions achieve this well, with great noise isolation that helps to maintain a hushed cabin. We would, however, try to avoid fitting ultra-large alloy wheels as these - particularly on sporty S Line models - make the A4 a little too jittery and uncomfortable over rough surfaces.
There’s good visibility, mind you, while those versions fitted with quattro all-wheel-drive make for great all-weather options and can be really impressive over snow and ice when fitted with cold weather tyres.
How does it look?
As we’ve already mentioned, the latest generation of A4 doesn’t represent a huge departure from the design of its predecessor, but in this case that’s not a bad thing. It takes much of its inspiration from the latest A6 models, while the small air inlet above the grille is similar to that found on the R8 and A1.
To our eyes, the Avant version looks even better, with its streamlined proportions helping it to stand out from the crowd. As with other Audi cars, the A4 Avant also gets really cool LED lighting at the front and rear.
What’s it like inside?
There’s a great sense of quality to be found inside the cabin of the A4. The material choice is good, with high-end plastics helping to lift the overall feel of the interior. The seats - even in entry-level models - are comfortable and supportive, though we particularly like the bucket-style versions fitted to S Line models.
Open up the boot and - on Avant versions - you get a nice square load area with a relatively low load height, so putting heavier items in there shouldn’t prove too tricky. The rear seats can be folded flat to bump up capacity, too.
What’s the spec like?
Audi has really given the A4 a lift in terms of the standard equipment offered. It means that even entry-level models still get a 10.1-inch touchscreen with media and navigation functions, as well as the 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit setup, which is really clear and easy to use. Even heated front seats are included from the off, too.
You can, of course, gain extra equipment by moving up the specifications, with popular S Line trim level, for example, adding signature LED headlights, 19-inch alloy wheels and part-leather upholstery.
It’s not hard to work out why the A4 Avant is so popular. It is a very accomplished all-rounder, bringing a great sense of refinement and comfort alongside a well-made interior and a classy, well-finished exterior design.
Sure, larger wheeled versions do suffer from an overly-firm ride, but avoid these extras and the A4 Avant is about as well-rounded as they come.