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Car reviews - Audi - A4 - Avant 2.0 TFSI Quattro Sport

Our Opinion

We like
Fantastic cabin, practical load area, refined yet edgy drivetrain, soothing yet sporty chassis, price relative to an SUV
Room for improvement
Some options should be standard, 19-inch tyres create road roar, rear legroom not to SUV levels

Gallery

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Audi logo23 Dec 2016

By DANIEL DEGASPERI

Price and equipment

THE starting price for the A4 2.0 TFSI Sport is $72,900 plus on-road costs – a $3000 surcharge above its sedan sibling, although that price also includes an electric tailgate.

Standard are 19-inch alloy wheels, foglights, keyless auto-entry with push-button start, tri-zone climate control air-conditioning, leather trim with electrically adjustable front seats and an 8.3-inch screen with 3D-map satellite navigation, twin USB and SD card inputs and ‘one shot’ voice control.

Take a deep breath, though, because the options list is extensive. The main chassis change is $1100 three-mode adaptive suspension, which is standard on a $73,300 BMW 330i Touring. Likewise a head-up display that forms part of a $2100 Technik pack with Audi’s ‘virtual cockpit’ driver display.

To match the $71,900 Mercedes-Benz C250 Estate this A4 further needed a $1900 Assistance pack with adaptive cruise control, active lane-keep assistance, collision avoidance system and adaptive-auto high-beam plus a $950 parking pack with surround-view camera and reverse-park assistance.

Other items fitted to our test car included $1700 matrix LED headlight with sequential indicators, $1500 Bang and Olufsen 19-speaker audio, $3600 twin rear 10.1-inch tablet screens and – arguably the least-required of all – a $3600 S line package with external bodykit and alloy/Alcantara trim.

The total? An eye-watering $95,324 including luxury-car tax (LCT) and metallic paint.

Interior

It is easy to look on a page and critique the A4’s extensive array of options, some of which should be standard, a couple of which are not needed and a few of which are simply indulgent. However, it is much harder to criticise the execution of this Audi’s fabulous cabin.

Even with a near-six-figure pricetag the dashboard design, trim materials, ergonomics, technology and features all stand up as justifiably premium grade.

The Avant bodystyle merely mixes that high pedigree with genuine practicality.

The 12.3-inch colour screen ahead of the driver works superbly well when crossing between audio/nav/phone/trip computer functions all displayed in high-resolution and a variety of sizes – for example, make the map large and speedometer/tachometer small, or vice versa. It also allows the 8.3-inch centre colour screen to be left as a supplementary screen.

Add in the excellent Bang and Olufsen audio system, the smoothly textured plastics flowing from upper dashboard across the doors, soft mood lighting and generously padded front seats, and the result is simply the benchmark cabin in the premium medium car class.

Further behind, and the back bench of this A4 is deep and supportive, although legroom cannot match a comparably priced medium SUV such as its Q5 sibling.

Tri-zone climate controls are a treat for rear riders, however, and there is plenty of headroom.

The 505-litre luggage area is 25L more voluminous than the sedan, but it is the wider and taller aperture that boosts practicality and makes loading items up and into the boot far easier. Although 35L down on the outgoing Q5, the naked eye would struggle to pick the difference. For maximum capacity with rear backrest folded, the Avant’s 1510L closes the gap further on that SUV’s 1540L.

Engine and transmission

With a kerb weight of 1540kg, the A4 Avant 2.0 TFSI Sport places its 185kW of power and 370Nm to superbly efficient and effective use, particularly when compared with a typical medium SUV.

Porsche Macan S Diesel? Try 1880kg with 190kW/580Nm, and yet this Audi is three-tenths faster with a claimed 6.0-second 0-100km/h sprint time – so, in effect, even an additional 110Nm fails to shift the excessive mass as speedily.

Meanwhile, combined cycle fuel consumption of 6.6 litres per 100 kilometres is only 0.3L/100km adrift of that ‘sportier’ Volkswagen Group SUV.

This Avant’s 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine and seven-speed dual-clutch automatic – dubbed S tronic – can effortlessly segue between being refined (with maximum torque from 1600rpm and 4500rpm) or surging en route to the 5000rpm to 6000rpm peak power band.

There is a grittiness and graininess to the engine note of this Audi that is unexpected in this application, but it is only to be found when extended. The auto has surplus gear ratios for surplus outputs, too, while all-wheel-drive traction ensures a wheel never spins even in the wet.

Ride and handling

The Avant feels light and tight on any road, with the suspension being undisturbed by any road condition and in any of its Comfort, Auto or Dynamic modes. Such diversity merely trims the edges from a standard, firm base shifting softer if thumbed left, or stiffer if pressed right.

Combined with quick and spirited steering, the 2.0 TFSI Sport keenly devours a twisty road with traction and grip to spare.

The chassis is perhaps not quite as driver oriented as the rear-wheel-drive BMW, succumbing to understeer a fraction earlier and feeling less precise when shifting weight off its front axle in the tightest bends.

We also wonder how the suspension would cope without the adaptive running gear, given that the low-profile 19-inch can often be heard – rather than felt – working hard underneath the car. They also throw up a surprising amount of road roar for a premium car.

Even so, few SUVs short of the aforementioned Macan are as dynamic as this A4 with a tailgate.

Safety and servicing

Six airbags (including dual front, front-side and full-length curtain protection), ABS and switchable electronic stability control (ESC), blind-spot assistance, lane-departure warning and lane-keep assistance, forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking (AEB), front and rear parking sensors with automatic park assistance, and a surround-view camera are all included in the Avant.

Euro NCAP tested the Audi A4 in 2016, and it scored five stars with 34.5 out of 38 points.

Audi’s three-year/45,000km servicing package costs $1620 for three checks evenly spaced over that time and mileage period.

Verdict

There is no doubt that when specified like our test car the Audi A4 2.0 TFSI Sport is one very expensive Avant.

Equally, however, it feels mostly worthy of the expenditure, at least once the superfluous S line package is cut from the equation. For the price of a Macan before any options, buyers can choose a faster and more fully featured A4 that arguably steers, rides and handles just as well.

The Porsche is only one example of the dud value a medium SUV offers versus a medium wagon. With the exception of a high driving position and expansive rear legroom, this Avant 2.0 TFSI Sport is a prime family car pick for the price – whether basic, entirely optioned or somewhere in between.

Rivals

BMW 330i Touring from $73,300 plus on-road costs
The driver’s wagon with benchmark engine and automatic.

Mercedes-Benz C250 Estate from $71,900 plus on-road costs
Lavish cabin, but underdone engine and needs Airmatic suspension to shine.

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