What is it?
The estate version of Audi’s big-selling A4 and an important addition to the range, because the Avant takes a big portion of A4 sales, despite the outgoing model’s smaller than average loadbay.
That’s been rectified this time around, in that there’s more room seats up than either the BMW 3-series Touring or Mercedes C-Class estate can muster, and seats-down the Merc only just betters the Audi.
But, as we all know, ultimate load space matters less than the additional versatility these cars offer over their saloon version. Not that the A4’s dynamic competence has ever been as finely burnished as its interior finish, the car’s ride sometimes a crude contrast to the precision sophistication of its fittings.
Audi has spent plenty of money trying to tackle the problem this time around, the latest A4 riding on an entirely new platform, shared with the A5 Coupe, that has seen the wheelbase stretched and the powertrain’s structure reconfigured to place less weight beyond the front axle.
A lighter, stiffer, roomier – and bigger – shell, plus an array of new technologies are the essence of a remake that has seen much of the car completely renewed. There’s a wide choice of engines on offer, from a 1.8 TFSI through to the range-topping 3.2 V6 petrol, which comes with Quattro four-wheel drive as standard. It’s this last powertrain that we sample here.
What’s it like?
With 261bhp up front and some fat rubber beneath, this is clearly a sporting estate. The engine revs to 7500rpm, and is fitted here with optional paddle shifts and the standard dynamic set-up that can be fine-tuned to alter throttle sensitivity, steering weight and damper setting at the stab of a button.
That said, all the diesel engines in the range will leave this version for dead; their strong, near-instantly available torque well able to defeat the 3.2’s peaky power delivery. The good news, though, is that this engine likes to rev and sounds far less threshy than many V6s as it approaches the rev limit.
The gearchange can sometimes catch you out though, it being too easy to miss the fore-aft plane you were after. A throttle map that’s often too abrupt can also make it hard to meter the power with finesse.