Having recently driven Audi’s all-new A4 sedan, I believe it’s the new king of the mid-size prestige sedans.
Now……….there is a wagon – the Audi A4 Avant.
Like the sedan, the Avant is the most technically advanced model to arrive on these shores.
It boasts a mind-boggling assortment of driver assist, entertainment and safety technologies, which explains why customer handovers at dealerships take a bit longer these days; there is simply so much to take in.
Being greeted at Ballina airport with a lineup of Avant’s, the Audi folk issued us with a challenge – timed luggage packing into the 1510 litre cargo and rear seat space. Somehow I ended up in last place but was totally amazed the Avant held it all. Weekends away with family or friends, cycling, surfing, glamping or skiing won’t be a problem.
I walked around the Avant, admiring its sleek, well proportioned body that is longer, wider, lower, lighter. The crisp lines, clamshell bonnet, signature four rings on the trapezoidal grille, slim-line lights front and back and big alloy wheels that neatly fill the guards, make it a real head turner.
The Avant consists of a pair of models. Both get the 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, with a choice of two power outputs, 140kW/320NM or 185kW/370Nm. Buyers can select either front wheel or Quattro all-wheel drive and both models have a seven-speed dual-clutch auto.
There is a $3,000 premium over the equivalent sedan with the lineup starting at $63,900. To me, the pick of the litter is the $72,900 (+ORC) top of the range 2.0 TFSI S tronic Quattro Sport, which is exceptional value.
Finally buckling up in the driver’s seat, our introductory romp led to Byron Bay and an overnight stay at the fabulous Elements of Byron, a stunning new five-star, beach front resort that’s every bit as chic and modern as the A4 Avants.
Waking to the sun muscling its way through the thick grey clouds the next morning, I slipped behind the wheel of a gleaming red 2.0 TFSI S tronic Quattro Sport, dialed up ‘Sport’ mode and headed for the twisting roads that dotted the foothills, to give the Avant a workout.
The 185 kW 370Nm turbocharged four-cylinder engine danced to the redline, its seven gears changing in the blink of an eye as it raced to the legal limit in under six seconds. On the twisty stuff its fluid steering, sublime chassis and lowered, adaptive sport suspension whipped me through bend after bend, like I was on a rollercoaster ride.
Inside, the sculptured leather seats kept me comfortable and well supported against lateral movement. It’s a beautifully crafted interior, superbly appointed, with excellent fit and finish. Tactile controls and soft touch surfaces are used everywhere.
Its bigger exterior translates to a more spacious than the sedan, with extra rear leg and headroom and the benefit of 505 litres of luggage space with the rear seat up, marginally smaller than the Q5 SUV.
The Avant’s infotainment technology includes Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity for up to 8 devices and an integrated 8-inch infotainment screen with a huge cache of functions, apps, and menus, that can be controlled by the voice recognition function. The system is a breeze to use and pairing my phone and streaming music took no time.
One option fitted was the $1,500 concert hall 755-watt / 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen 3D Sound System that was worth every cent.
Naturally the Avant has a five-star ANCAP safety rating, with standard features such as pre-sense city with AEB and pedestrian detection,
Cross traffic assist, side assist, blind spot warning, pre-sense basic (belt tensioning, window closing and other preventative measures if an emergency is detected), pre-sense rear (warns following traffic if they are at risk of running into the rear of the car) and parking system plus.
Being a cyclist, I am particularly fond of the Exit Warning system, which scans the road or footpath behind the vehicle, detecting cyclists and pedestrians and warns occupants when it’s unsafe to open the door.
All in all, the Audi A4 Avant range delivers cutting edge technologies, is beautifully appointed, roomy, versatile and enthralling to drive.
And yes, I believe the Audi A4 Avant is the new king of the mid-size prestige wagons.