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Driven: Audi loads up with A4 Avant
Audi predicts strong sales for A4 Avant despite Australia’s SUV love affair
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6 May 2016
By NEIL DOWLING
AUDI Australia is aiming high with forecasts that its new A4 Avant will double the sales of its predecessor, based on early customer response to the late-February launch of the sedan variant.
Speaking at the launch of the new-generation A4 Avant, Audi Australia managing director Andrew Doyle said the A4 is “critical” to the brand’s goal of closing in on its Mercedes-Benz and BMW rivals and added that he was “pleased with the initial response to the sedan”.
“We expect to double A4 Avant sales with this car,” he said.
“It (A4) represents a quantum leap in driving dynamics and value for money and with the Avant and S models, ensure a bright future for the A4.” Audi sold 476 A4 Avants – including the jacked-up Allroad and sporty S4 variants – in 2015. It has sold a sizeable 5500 A4 Avants since the launch of the original in 1995, but Mr Doyle said it was just shy of its rival Mercedes-Benz C-Class wagon at 5600 in the same period.
“But overall, we sell more wagons than Mercedes,” he added.
The ninth-generation A4 Avant clones the sedan in all the important areas, going its own way only with the bigger load-carrying ability and in the reduced drivetrain choices.
The A4 sedan arrived in February with its limited four-engine offering as Audi eschewed its V6 diesel option.
But the wagon cuts the choice back to two, ignoring any diesel engine and going with two versions of its 2.0-litre EA888 turbo-petrol mill.
Audi Australia product planning manager Peter Strudwicke said he would not rule out the possibility of a diesel appearing later in the Avant’s life, adding that buyers wanting a diesel could wait until November for the A4 Avant-based Allroad.
Reduced powerplant choices have brought with it a single transmission as the Avant comes only with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. No manual gearbox will be available and the previous model’s continuously variable transmission (CVT) has been dropped.
The entry-level A4 Avant has front-wheel drive and Audi’s 2.0-litre turbocharged engine that delivers 140kW at 4200-6000rpm and 320Nm of torque from 1450-5200rpm.
Audi says acceleration to 100km/h is 7.5 seconds, while fuel consumption of 5.6 litres per 100 kilometres.
By contrast, the similar engine in the all-wheel drive quattro version uses a conventional combustion cycle for 185kW at 5000-6000rpm and torque of 370Nm at 1600-4500rpm.
Individually, the entry-level A4 Avant 2.0 TFSI has a standard-feature list headlined by 18-inch alloy wheels, adaptive LED headlights, satellite navigation, leather upholstery, smartphone interface with wi-fi, and an electric tailgate for $63,900 plus on-road costs. This is $3000 more than the A4 sedan.
The A4 Avant 2.0TFSI Quattro adds features including the more powerful engine, 10-speaker audio and 19-inch wheels for $72,900 plus on-road costs, also a $3000 increase on the equivalent sedan.
The Avant has a three-zone climate-control air-conditioner with full-width dashboard vents and rear airvents with digital displays. Mr Strudwicke said the A4 air filtration now matches that of the Audi A8 model, reducing odours, pollen, bacteria and when on recycle, has the ability to constantly clean the cabin air.
There is an 8.3-inch centre monitor with a magnesium frame for weight reduction, and the option of Audi’s ‘virtual cockpit’ that is a TFT-based, 3D-graphic, 12.3-inch wide instrument panel that can be changed to suit the driver’s needs.
Virtual cockpit, seen also on the 2015 TT, works with Audi Connect connectivity to access services such as displaying Google Earth images, wi-fi for up to eight devices, and allows occupants to use Google Search.
The A4 is Audi’s first model with smartphone interface for access to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The Avant has standard LED for headlights, daytime running lights, cornering lights and tail-lights with sequential pattern indicators.
The headlights have a ‘city light’ function that broadens the beam to the footpath area when on low beam, and the ability for the low beam projection to automatically lift when no oncoming car is detected.
The Audi Matrix LED headlight option recognises traffic and can have up to eight fingers of light to avoid dazzling following and approaching traffic.
Standard safety equipment includes ultrasonic cameras and sensors for the pre-sense with pedestrian detection that is an autonomous emergency brake (AEB) program that supplies full braking up to 85km/h.
There is also an ‘exit warning’ system that prevents dooring a cyclist or from being hit by a passing car rear cross-traffic alert pre-sense rear that predicts a rear-end collision and flashes the warning lights and prepares the seatbelts for a collision.
The option list includes a Predictive Efficiency assistant that works with the adaptive cruise control to give the driver hints to reduce fuel use based on the route topography and traffic situations. It can also select coasting mode when it senses downhill or cruising opportunities.
Extra cost is also needed for the ‘stop and go’ function that prevents unintended acceleration collision-avoidance assistance which will warn of a possible collision and tug the steering wheel and ‘turn assist’ that prevents the car being turned in front of oncoming traffic.
Audi offers four packages that bundle extra equipment, including the Assistance Package with active lane assist, adaptive cruise and stop and go, turn assist, collision avoidance assist, predictive efficiency assistant and high-beam assist for $1900.
A Parking Assistance Package offers a 360-degree camera and park assist for automated parking, costing $950, while the Technik package – which Audi said has attracts more than half of A4 buyers – comes with the virtual cockpit and head-up display for $2100.
The S line Sport package ($3200) adds 19-inch five-spoke alloy wheels, aluminium trim, flat-bottomed steering wheel, black headliner, and upholstery in Alcantara and leather.
Like the A4 sedan, the Avant sits on Volkswagen Group’s MLB 2 (evo) platform, also used in the Bentley Bentayga and the latest Audi Q7.
The Avant has dropped up to 70kg compared with its predecessor, despite the new vehicle’s larger size and increased standard equipment level.
Weight has been removed by using high-tensile, hot-stamped steel body panels, selective use of aluminium for loose panels such as the tailgate, and die-cast alloy components such as suspension parts.
For the ninth-generation Avant, the sub-frame mounted rear suspension has changed from a trapezoidal-link system to a more compact and more precise five-link layout. The greater use of cast aluminium has reduced total suspension weight by 6kg.
The front suspension has also been modified to increase steering accuracy and road feel.
Two types of adaptive suspension with adjustable dampers are optionally available with the choice of ‘comfort’ or ‘sports’ bias and a respective ride-height reduction of 10mm and 20mm respectively.
The new rear suspension, together with the slightly longer vehicle dimension, has allowed more cargo space, expanding the Avant boot to 505 litres (seats up), an increase of 15 litres on the previous model, and to 1510 litres with the seats leaned forward, up 80 litres.
The rear seat is now a 40/20/40 design, compared with the outgoing car’s 60/40 split-fold ratio, and the electric tailgate has a foot sensor for hands-free opening.
It is 26mm longer at 4725mm 2mm lower (1434mm) is 16mm wider (1842mm) but is 18mm narrower (2022mm) with mirrors out because of a new mirror design.
Aerodynamics have also improved, now with a 0.29 coefficient of drag because of a new mirror design, more underbody cladding and a vertical spoiler fitted to each D-pillar. Noise reduction is also achieved by an acoustic windscreen with an acoustic laminate.
The MLB2 platform has a 2820mm wheelbase, up 12mm. Audi claims headroom and rear legroom are increased despite the wagon being lower than the outgoing version.
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