2017 Audi A4 Avant Review

Introduction
Premium estates are popular and more practical alternatives to their saloon brethren. The Audi A4 Avant is one of the best of the breed. Elegantly styled, it has an exceptional interior and cut-above road manners that make it feel like a genuinely upmarket car. It’s commendably practical as well, and the Allroad version makes for a convincing soft-roader for those who are decidedly anti-SUV.

Did you know? The first Audi A4 Avant didn’t go on sale until 1996, several years after the launch of the original Audi 80-replacing A4 saloon.

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Verdict: (8.3/10)
Mid-size premium estates solve the practical problems of junior executive saloons in a stylish manner that, for many, is more appealing than the four-door alternative. The Audi A4 Avant competes with the BMW 3 Series Touring and Mercedes-Benz C-Class estate, and is perhaps the most convincing junior exec wagon on sale. It’s a little more competitive and well-rounded alongside its contemporaries than the A4 saloon, while also proving more distinctive to look at. When combined with the established strengths of the latest A4 range, it makes for a competitive package that’s generally hard to fault.
Design & Exterior
(8/10)
Interior & Comfort
(9/10)
Technology & Connectivity
(9/10)
Performance & Handling
(8/10)
Safety Features
(9/10)
Spec & Trim Levels
(8/10)
Running Costs & Fuel Economy
(9/10)
Pricing
(7/10)

We Like
Stylish, elegant looks
Beautiful interior
Supple ride and good engine refinement
We Don’t Like
Could be more dynamic to drive
A bit of a price-hike over the saloon
Styling is too discreet for some


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Design & Exterior: (8/10)
Think the Audi A4 saloon is a little bit too derivative? Enter the A4 Avant, which, thanks to its more characterful rear-end design, cuts more of a dash on the road and better shows off the new A4’s tight, precision-built look.
The rake of the rear screen, combined with the elegant downward sweep of the side windows, makes the A4 Avant look that bit racier and more fastback-like than your regular boxy estate. Even the standard cars have a bit of kudos from Audi’s famed fast estates, something the wide rear lights and large roof spoiler further enhance.
The rest of it is as per the A4 saloon, defined by the sharp side feature line that cleverly blends into the bonnet shut line, and those clean and carefully crafted body sides that exude solidity. All models get LED daytime running lights, but the car looks best with the full LED lamps of S Line models. WIth their extended bodykits and larger alloys, this trim represents peak Audi A4 Avant design.


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Interior & Comfort: (9/10)
No two ways about it, the latest Audi A4 Avant has an exceptionally well-crafted interior that’s both great to look at and a delight to use. Quality is class-leading yes, better even than the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, which is surprisingly rattly in places and the amount of careful detail that’s gone into the cabin makes the 3 Series Touring look substandard by comparison.
Highlights include the crisp, free-standing infotainment screen in the centre of the dashboard, Audi’s watch-like touch-sensitive heater controls and a set of instruments that even in their most basic form are like those from a luxury car. You can have an enhanced display between them, which can show sat nav mapping, or go for the full showcase of Audi’s electronic TFT Virtual Cockpit.
The A4 Avant is a comfortable car. All models get heated leather seats for starters, enhanced further by moving to one-up Sport trim with its better-bolstered and more adjustable sports seats. The driving position itself has a broad range of adjustment and those in the back will be a bit better off because there’s 18mm more headroom than in the saloon.
Practicality
Audi leads the way for boot capacity despite that svelte fastback rear window. Seats up, there’s 505 litres of boot space (compared to 480 litres for the saloon), which extends to a pretty commanding 1,510 litres. The load sill height is also lower than in the saloon, making it easier to slide items in and out. The load bay is a useful one-metre wide, and there are lashing points built into the floor.
An electric tailgate is standard, as is a rather clever electric load cover that auto-retracts when the boot is opened so you can load items more easily before sliding back as you close the boot to keep your things from prying eyes.
Boot space


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Technology & Connectivity: (9/10)
Audi’s mantra is ‘progress through technology’ and the A4 Avant lives up to this, even in its most basic guise. All models come with a seven-inch MMI colour infotainment display, compete with Audi Smartphone Interface that handles both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Bluetooth is included too, as is DAB radio and two USB charging sockets so you can use your smartphone via MMI and still plug another device in.
Front and rear parking sensors are standard, as is keyless go that lets you chuck the key in the centre console and start the car with a button instead. Note, this isn’t keyless entry, though: you still need to use the remote fob to lock and unlock. The only omission on the standard SE is sat nav, which comes with Sport trim. The regular eight-speaker stereo is also upgraded to a 10-speaker Audi Sound system. S4 models, meanwhile, get an enhanced infotainment system with MMI Navigation Plus and 8.3-inch colour screen. A fancy ‘handwriting-reading’ MMI Touch control panel is standard, too.


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Performance & Handling: (8/10)
The A4 Avant is a very refined and grown-up car to drive, with a focus on ride comfort that shows how much Audi has developed in this area in recent years. With a supple, well-cushioned and quiet suspension, the A4 Avant is appreciably smoother than a BMW 3 Series, and perhaps even gets the nod over the slightly tauter Mercedes-Benz C-Class – particularly models that steer clear of big wheels and sport suspension.
The best A4 Avants are those with the optional adaptive dampers, which Audi calls Adaptive Comfort. Choose from comfort, sport or auto modes, or an individual setting that lets you tailor the firmness of the suspension, weight of the steering and response of the accelerator. This suspension will also cope better with the varying loads estates sometimes carry. It offers exemplary body control over most surfaces, even challenging ones at speed.
Handling is less thrilling than a BMW, but this is less of an issue with the Avant as it doesn’t quite have the ‘everyday sport’ focus of the saloon. Besides, it’s grippy, stable and viceless, with positive steering and a relative lack of body-roll helping keep things tidy. Quattro models have four-wheel drive for all-weather traction, although front-wheel-drive versions will still cope better than a rear-drive Mercedes or BMW in the snow.
The engine range includes a surprisingly capable 1.4-litre TFSI petrol, a sportier 2.0-litre TFSI and the vibrant but otherwise slightly soulless V6 turbo in the S4 Avant. Most buyers pick diesel. The 2.0-litre TDI is a known entity, and nicely refined on the move once you drive through a little bit of clatter under acceleration. But the pick of the diesels, if you can afford it, is the swift and exceedingly classy 3.0-litre V6 TDI. There’s not even a fuel economy penalty to pay it’s worth the extra spend over the four-cylinder 2.0-litre if you’re able.
Recommended engine: 3.0 V6 TDI 218
0-62mph
6.6 seconds
Fuel economy
67.3mpg
Emissions
114g/km


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Safety Features: (9/10)
All Audi A4 Avants have a five-star Euro NCAP safety score, and all come with Audi Pre-Sense autonomous emergency braking. This will automatically slam the brakes on and do its best to avoid a frontal accident entirely at speeds of up to 50mph. At the very least, the system will mitigate the impact of the crash if you do hit something.
Pedestrians are kept safe by a pop-up bonnet, while those inside have six airbags, Isofix and a seatbelt monitoring system. An optional Driver Assistance pack includes extended adaptive cruise control, traffic-sign recognition and lane-keeping assist. It also has a collision-avoidance assistant, which feeds inputs into the steering to help you steer away from an impact.


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Specs and Trim Levels: (8/10)
Colours
A large range of 17 colours is offered on the A4 Avant, but the only free ones are Ibis White and Brilliant Black. For extra cost, you can pick from a range comprising Glacier White, Cuvee Silver, Floret Silver, Manhattan Grey, Monsoon Grey, Mythos Black, Argus Brown, Gotland Green, Tango Red, Matador Red, Scuba Blue, Moonlight Blue, Daytona Grey, Navarra Blue or Misano Red.
You can, however, only pick Daytona Grey on S Line or S4 models, and Navarra Blue and Misano Red are restricted to the S4. All models will soon be offered with even pricier Audi Exclusive paint, whereby you can pay to pick any colour you want.
Trim Levels
The base A4 Avant SE includes everything you’d want as standard, apart from sat nav and leather seats. It has xenon headlights, MMI with smartphone connectivity, Bluetooth, alloy wheels, posh three-zone climate control (so those in the rear can set their own temperature as well), a power tailgate, auto lights and wipers, plus cruise control with a speed limiter.
Sport models add front sports seats, a nicer three-spoke sport steering wheel, alternative 17-inch alloys, an upgraded sound system and MMI navigation with a three-month trial to the Audi Connect infotainment and connectivity services. S Line models have sportier body styling, bigger wheels, LED headlights, leather and Alcantara sports seats and a comprehensive array of S Line detailing outside and in.
The posh S4 Avant performance variant has upgraded suspension and brakes, Nappa leather seats, enhanced 8.3-inch Audi MMI Navigation Plus and more S4 logos than you’ll ever count at your first attempt.
Size and Dimensions
The A4 Avant has the same wheelbase as the A4 saloon, and is thus very similar inside. Indeed, it’s actually 1mm shorter than the saloon. Width is the same, at 1,842 mm, and overall height is up slightly, to 1434 mm. The S4 is a bit longer, because of its sportier body styling.
Length
4,725 mm
Width
1,842 mm
Height
1,434 mm
Max towing weight without brake
750kg


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Running Costs & Fuel Economy: (9/10)
Audi offers some very efficient engines with the A4 Avant. The 1.4 TFSI will do more than 51 mpg combined, and the 2.0 TFSI isn’t far behind on 48.7 mpg in its most efficient form. But do note, choosing larger wheels will officially lower the fuel economy and raise the CO2 emissions. Choosing Quattro four-wheel drive also gives a 6mpg hit.
Even the S4 isn’t bad, on 38.7 mpg combined, but best economy and the highest real-world figures come with the diesels. A base 2.0 TDI 150 Ultra will return more than 70mpg, and the TDI 190 is capable of 68.9mpg in Ultra guise. The real standout is the staggering 3.0 V6 TDI, which in its leanest form will average 60.1 mpg, backed up by 123g/km CO2 emissions.
Reliability and servicing
The latest A4 looks to be a reliable machine, particularly as it’s not affected by the ongoing diesel engine recall for VW Group 2.0-litre TDI motors (unlike its predecessor). You can choose from either variable or fixed-interval servicing. Because of the miles they cover, most A4 Avant drivers will be on variable-interval setups.


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Pricing: (7/10)
An Audi A4 Avant costs around lb1,500 more than a saloon, for which you get more space, an electric tailgate and an electric load bay cover. Sport trim costs around lb2,000 more than SE and is a useful upgrade given its standard sat nav, while S Line trim isn’t too great a jump over Sport. If you’re looking at higher-end 2.0-litre TDI engines, also be sure to check out the V6. It might not cost quite as much extra as you may think…

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Recommendations
Luxury Seeker
3.0 V6 TDI Sport the V6 engine makes the A4 Avant feel very special and luxurious, and Sport trim is the best balance between equipment and comfort.
Company Car Buyer
2.0 TDI 150 Ultra SE the lowest CO2 emissions, this is the one you could just squeeze into instead of a mid-range Mondeo. No sat nav, though, so plug in your iPhone or Android device instead…
Car Enthusiast
S4 pretend you’re in a racy Audi RS4 without breaking the bank in the cultured and tech-packed S4.
Rivals
BMW 3 Series Touring
The latest 3 Series is ageing faster than some expected, and a replacement isn’t far off. It still drives well, but the styling and interior are past their best.
Mercedes-Benz C-Class estate
The good-looking C-Class has a sportier focus than its predecessors, and stands out more as a result. Its onterior is particularly striking, although quality is a let-down.
Volkswagen Passat estate
Think of the Passat as a value-priced A4 Avant with even more space and equipment for the money. That’s how classy this latest model is.
Ford Mondeo estate
The reality is, people are buying fewer Mondeos and more A4s. The Audi is pricier, but lots of people seem to be able to make the jump.
Volvo V60
A car that’s sorely ageing these days, and isn’t anything like as practical as the Audi, although the Volvo image may still swing it for some.
What others say
Auto Express
“The Audi A4 Avant is a fine extension of Audi’s compact executive brand, with a big boot, some neat practical touches and a classy cabin.”
Car Buyer
“The Audi A4 Avant is a subtle yet stylish and upmarket estate car, with a practical interior and a dash of luxury.”

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