Shark Chaser: Audi A4 Avant road test and review
SO you don't think wagons are cool?
Well, champion surfer Mick Fanning, an Audi ambassador, drives an A4 Avant. And if you want to debate coolness with a man who barrels through waves and stares down sharks, then go right ahead.
The A4 Avant is available in two petrol variants - either a front-wheel drive 145kW or all-wheel drive Quattro 185kW. Under both bonnets is the same 2.0-litre turbo engine, just with a different tune.
It is longer, wider and lighter than its predecessor and, as we found out during our test week, has a lot to offer.
Love, love, love Audi's Virtual Cockpit, a 12.3-inch fully digital instrument panel that can be customised with the information you want alongside the speedometer and tacho.
It's not new, I know, and is an added extra in the Avant ($1700) but it does add wow factor and jazzes up the classy but conservative surrounds.
The interior of this Avant looks and feels much like the A4 of which it is an extension, all high end tactile materials and a quality fit and finish.
Leather seats are comfortable and supportive, there is enough head and leg room and storage is more than adequate.
The boot accommodates 505 litres which can be expanded to 1510-litres with the second row folded to give a cavernous cargo hold. The 40:20:40 seats don't fold flat though which can be annoying.
On the road
It is easy to forget you are driving a wagon as the A4 Avant rarely strays from script.
Calm and composed, it is super easy to drive, with excellent road manners and sharp handling.
It feels reliable around bends, can get up when you need to overtake or climb and soaks up most bumps and blemishes.
It moves well for a car of this size with smooth linear power delivery and the seven-speed auto transmission is well matched and excellent at finding the right gear in all circumstances.
That our test car was the front-driver rather than the Quattro version was only really noticeable thanks to slight torque steer when pushed quickly from standstill or low speeds.
What do you get?
Plenty. There's tri-zone climate control, leather sports seats, 8.3-inch colour touchscreen with sat nav and reverse camera, Bluetooth and wi-fi connections, 18-inch alloys and an automated tailgate all as standard.
An impressive safety suite includes eight airbags, blind spot assist and automatic emergency braking, while an Assistance Package ($1900) adds lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control and forward collision warning.
We returned around 6.5l/100km during our week in the Avant, close enough to the official 5.6l/100km to be pleased.
Warranty is three years unlimited kilometres with servicing costs capped at $1620 over three years.
If you are looking to buy in this space it wouldn't hurt to check out the BMW 320i Touring (from $65,300) and Mercedes-Benz C200 Estate (from $63,900).
If you can't abide the Germans, have a look at the Volvo V60 T5 R-Design Wagon ($63,990) as a point of difference.
Wagons come into their own as proper SUV-alternatives in the practicality stakes. The A4 Avant's boot space and associated accessories are cases in point.
The floor is reversible - with a rubber mat on the underside - and can be pulled out to make a table. Underneath is a waterproof recess so both you and Mick can store your wetsuits or swimmers.
There is a built-in vertical blind, a cargo blind that raises automatically when the tailgate opens and optional divider that can be adjusted along the length of the floor to secure smaller items.
There are LED strip lights along the sides, nets, hooks and even a pink elephant. Well, clearly not the latter, but you get the feeling that if they could they would.
Ok, so the A4 Avant shares styling cues with the sedan and is sleek and smart and refined. Is it a looker?
Not in the Chris Hemsworth league obviously but it is definitely not going to shame you. it has the epxected Audi sporting classiness without getting all shouty about it.
I am a bit partial to a wagon, simply because I like an underdog and this one in particular has a lot to offer.
It has the space and versatility that families need and it rides and handles well too. If it's good enough for Mick Fanning, it's good enough for me.
P.S. Audi can not guarantee that buying one will turn you into a champion surfer. Pity.
Model: Audi A4 Avant 2.0 TFSI Sport.
Details: Five-door front-wheel drive mid-size luxury wagon.
Engines: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol generating maximum power of 140kW @ 4200-6000rpm and peak torque of 320Nm @ 1450-3200rpm.
Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch auto.
Consumption: 5.6 litres/100km combined.
Bottom line plus on roads: From $63,900.
What matters most
What we liked: Space and versatility, ease to drive, economy, safety.
What we'd like to see: Rear seats able to fold completely flat.
Warranty and Servicing: Three-year unlimited kilometre warranty with three years capped price servicing. Service costs capped at $1620 over three years.
Driving experience 18/20
Features and equipment 17/20
Functionality and comfort 18/20
Value for money 17/20
Style and design 16/20