The excellent new Audi A4 saloon is our newly-crowned Car of the Year. Now the A4 range is expanding in the UK with the launch of the new Avant (estate) model, which we were impressed with in diesel form when we tried it in mainland Europe last October.
It's our first chance to test the Avant with petrol power in the UK, and the model in question is the 2.0 TFSI with the optional seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic gearbox (a six-speed manual is standard).
The CO2 rating and economy figures depends on the trim level and alloy wheel choice, as larger wheels decrease the economy of the car. Our A4 Avant came in range-topping S line trim and on 18in wheels, which gave our car claimed combined economy of 52.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 124g/km. Other petrols in the range include a base 1.4 TFSI model and a higher-powered version of the 2.0 TFSI equipped with quattro all-wheel drive.
As with the saloon, the A4 Avant faces a strong set of rivals, including the recently refreshed BMW 3 Series and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class estate. What’s more, Skoda's Superb Estate is now a more premium choice than ever, and its cheaper price, big space and impressive running costs mean it cannot be overlooked.
What is the Audi A4 2.0 TFSI Avant like to drive?
This version of the A4 Avant is at its best on the motorway. The 2.0 TFSI engine offers brisk performance, both from a standing start and on the move when you need some extra power for overtaking. At all times the engine is smooth and refined, with the only noise being a hushed thrum under harder acceleration.
The automatic gearbox is also a strong performer, executing gearshifts quietly and unobtrusively and with a happy knack of knowing what gear you need to be in should you want a sudden burst of acceleration.
The A4 Avant comes with different options for the suspension, but ours was the sportiest, and therefore stiffest, S line type. On our particular car, the suspension could also be tweaked and made sportier or more comfortable using the Drive Select system, although it is at its best when the Drive Select system is left in its more comfortable settings, mainly because it feels more in keeping with the A4’s relaxed brief.
In its least sporty state, the ride is comfortable, there's little roll and plenty of grip, while the steering is well weighted if a little artificial feeling. Any extra sportiness applied via the Drive Select system feels artificial, the extra weight to the steering being particularly unwelcome.
The biggest downside in driving this version of the A4 Avant is the economy. On our 300-mile or so test route, which consisted mainly of motorways, the A4 Avant struggled to better 35mpg. The car has yet to go through the controlled tests of our True MPG testers, however.
What is the Audi A4 2.0 TFSI Avant like inside?
The interior of the A4 Avant is a real high point. Simply put, it is class-leading in design, feel and perceived quality. Everything you come into contact with feels solid and luxurious.
As mentioned, our test car came in plush S line trim. The plush leather seats feature plenty of scope for adjustability, meaning a good driving position is easy to come by. Visibility is also impressive, as is comfort, meaning this A4 Avant is well suited for settling into long motorway drives, especially when equipped with the seven-speed automatic gearbox of our test car.
The MMI infotainment system is also a pleasure to use, the 7.0in screen in the top of the dash being controlled by a rotary wheel and simple button set. The graphics are rich and the display easy to navigate. Voice control also features on the system, as does the ability to enter text by writing on the pad on top of the wheel. It works surprisingly well.
The A4 Avant is also notable for being offered with Apple’s CarPlay system. You plug your iPhone into the car using one of the USB ports and several functions of your phone are mirrored on the interior screen, including phone calls and maps.
Functions include the ability for the car to read out text messages to you as you receive them, and use the voice command function to reply to them. It’s a bit fiddly at first, but get the hang of it and it’s a useful tool for a life on the road.
If you choose the A4 Avant over the saloon, you're most likely doing so in order to take advantage of the extra boot space. The boot's capacity is 505 litres, which is greater than that of the 3 Series or C-Class.
The rear seats fold in a 40/20/40 split, which is easily done by pulling levers next to the tailgate. The boot is a large, flat, useful space, and access to it is easy with a low loading lip and a powered tailgate that can also be opened by an optional motion sensor.
Should I buy one?
Overall, the A4 Avant remains a solid choice of estate. It isn't quite as sharp to drive as a BMW 3 Series and not as spacious as a Superb, but it surpasses them on interior quality, running costs and refinement.
However, as pleasing a car to sit in and drive as this petrol-powered version of the A4 Avant is, it’s hard to make the case for it over a similarly powered and specced diesel model. For only a small premium, you get much-improved fuel economy and lower CO2 emissions, and therefore lower running costs, which would recoup the initial greater outlay.
We’re yet to try it in the UK, but we suspect that, as with the A4 saloon, the A4 Avant to go for will be the 3.0 TDI 218 model, which offers greater performance and refinement but without any real penalty for economy and CO2 emissions.
What Car? says
Audi A4 2.0 TFSI Avant Engine size 2.0-litre petrol Price from £33,080 Power 187bhp Torque 236lb ft 0-62mph 7.5 seconds Top speed 148mph Fuel economy 52.3mpg CO2 124g/km