2016 Audi A4 Avant review
Isaac Bober’s first drive 2016 Audi A4 Avant review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety, verdict, and score.
In a nutshell: Audi releases the wagon version of its A4 sedan onto the Australian market; the thing is brimming with technology and is great to drive.
2016 Audi A4 Avant
Pricing From $63,900 +ORC Warranty three years, unlimited kilometres Safety five star ANCAP Engine 2.0-litre TFSI four-cylinder turbocharged petrol Power/Torque 140kW/320Nm Transmission seven-speed S tronic Body 4725mm (L); 1842mm (W – excluding mirrors); 1434mm (H) Fuel Tank 54 litres Thirst 5.6L/100km
For detailed specifications and features, visit Car Showroom.
AUDI RELEASED THE A4 Sedan back in March and followed up, late in April, with the release of its wagon sibling, the A4 Avant (which is just Audi-speak for wagon). One of the mainstays of the Audi brand, the A4 owes its beginnings to the Audi 80 which launched in 1972 and gave way, after four generations, to the A4 in 1994. By 2011, the A4 had racked up a staggering 5 million sales.
What is it?
As mentioned above, the Audi A4 is one of the German car maker’s best-selling vehicle and one that over the course of its history, including in its early iteration as the Audi 80 saw the roll out of many iconic Audi technologies, including S tronic transmission and even quattro drive with self-locking centre differential.
Fast forward to right now and Audi claims this new A4 and A4 Avant show off in the medium car segment technologies that would ordinarily be the domain of larger, more luxurious models like the A8. And this is particularly the case with some of its safety systems, including the standard matrix LED headlights with dynamic turn indicators. There’s also a cost-optional rear seat tablet option, allowing rear seat passengers to watch movies, listen to music or, annoyingly, set a route on the sat-nav… But more about this stuff later.
Beyond the new technology, and there is indeed plenty of clever gear stuffed into the new A4 Avant, it’s the rear end that’s the headline grabber with the launch of this wagon. Indeed, the A4 Avant now offers 505 litres of storage space with the rear seats in place, which is a 15 litre improvement. The load lip is scratch protected and just 63 centimetres and the tailgate can be opened simply by poking your foot under the rear bumper. The loading width, but not the boot width, is one metre.
What’s it like?
The A4 sedan offers three petrol engines and one diesel, but the A4 Avant is available only with a 2.0 TFSI turbocharged four-cylinder engine available in two states of tune. The entry-level 2.0 TFSI produces 140kW and 320Nm of torque between 1450-4200rpm which is mated to a seven-speed S tronic transmission; combined fuel consumption is 5.6L/100km. The high-output version produces 185kW and 370Nm of torque between 1600-4500rpm and is also mated to a seven-speed S tronic transmission; fuel consumption is a claimed 6.6L/100km.
For about 0.9% of us interested in such things, the new 2.0-litre TFSI engine has a reworked combustion method which, in a nutshell, involves a shorter compression phase and means that when, say, coasting the engine behaves more like a 1.4-litre engine. The compression phase can then expand again when higher throttle loads are detected, like when you floor it to overtake a truck on the highway. All of this occurs with the driver and passengers being none the wiser. It’s little tweaks like this that have allowed the petrol-powered A4 to drink like a diesel.
At the launch, Practical Motoring was only able to test out the entry-level engine tune, but we’ll bring a full test of both engine tunes, the higher spec engine offers quattro all-wheel drive, in the next few weeks.
Our test loop took in some twisting mountain roads on the North Coast of NSW with much of the launch drive conducted at night which did limit the opportunity to really test out the drivetrain and chassis. But, based on a limited first impression, we can hand on heart say that the entry-level engine has all the grunt you’d ever need. Indeed, with peak torque (and this is the important figure) arriving at just off idle (1450rpm) and sticking around until 4200rpm the thing has a real diesel-esque attitude. And, rather than leaping off the line, accumulates speed effortlessly.
The engine works well with the seven-speed S tronic transmission (is a dual-clutch arrangement and replaces the previous generation’s mutitronic transmission) which is about as smooth as you could hope for. Although once we’ve had it on test for a week we’ll be able to properly assess its ability to handle some taxi-driver-esque throttle application. We didn’t get to asses the coasting mode, which sees the transmission free-wheel between 55-160km/h and that’s because our drive was on back roads where speeds were constantly changing.
The steering has been tweaked over its predecessor and while there’s almost no feel through the wheel (not that that really matters in the grand scheme of things) the weighting is consistent regardless of the speed, and there’s virtually no vibration through the wheel, or indeed, body even when the road surfaces start to deteriorate. And, should you floor the thing from a standing start, or indeed in-gear there’s no torque steer.
In terms of the ride, Audi has managed to weed out some of the harshness of the old A4, particularly at the front, by fitting a new five-link axle that gets clever mounts designed to offer stiffness when cornering but be soft to filter out vibrations from up and down movements. There’s a hell of a lot more to how the tweaked suspension works then just this, but suffice it to say on the entry-level car without active suspension, the ride is comfortable and yet composed enough that it won’t go to pieces should you start pushing it.
The brakes are nice and strong but the pedal offers no feel and so takes a little while to get used to; initially you’ll apply too much force to the brakes and have your passengers head banging.
Climb inside the A4 Avant and, like the A4 sedan, the interior feels like it’s from an even more expensive car… The entry-level A4 is bigger on the inside than its predecessor with front seat passengers getting between 11mm and 24mm of additional shoulder and headroom, respectively. Over in the back there’s an additional 23mm of legroom, which doesn’t sound like much but translates into a comfortable backseat. I set the front seat into my normal driving position, and I’m 5ft11in and had plenty of room in the back.
The dashboard looks beautiful with the sort of quality materials used that Audi is renowned for. Everything you touch just feels nice with no hard, scratchy plastic anywhere. One of the features I really liked was the almost full-width air vents running across the dashboard (rear seat passengers also have their own vents and controls for heating and air-conditioning), and Audi’s MMI communication and infotainment with its tablet-style display looks beautiful and is easy to use – we’ll have a full description of how its works once we’ve tested the vehicle over a week.
The entry-level A4 Avant offers an analogue speedometer and tachometer with a 7.0-inch colour screen inbetween that can display everything from the speed via a digital readout, music or navigation, and Audi’s navigation system even offers a Google Earth view. Of course, if you want to spend a little more, you can get the optional virtual cockpit which replaces the analogue dials with a full 12.3-inch LCD display (see the pictures below for comparison).
In terms of safety, the new A4 Avant, like its sedan sibling, gets a five-star ANCAP rating after being tested by EuroNCAP. But, beyond its crash safety which is impressive, the new A4 gets, as standard, LED headlights that feature a range of situation specific features, including motorway lights and dynamic turn indicators which look very cool in action. For an additional $1700 you can get LED Matrix headlights which feature a camera inside them that is able to tweak the headlights so as not to dazzle oncoming traffic, or the driver with light reflection off signs.
There are eight airbags, traction and stability controls, attention assist which will alert the driver if the system detects a lapse in concentration, there’s an active bonnet for pedestrian safety, autonomous emergency braking that works at up to 85km/h, and there’s also a pre sense rear system that works to mitigate rear-end collisions. There are a host of other cost-optional packages which we’ll explore in greater detail in a future review.