Whilst the current Audi A4 saloon’s looks aren’t erroneous, in Avant guise it’s a more handsome prospect. Maybe I’m getting older but I’m finding this trend with the majority of saloons lately, their estate siblings tend to be better proportioned in the looks department, with the added convenience of extra luggage space on offer.
This 2012 model has undergone minor exterior tweaks and parked beside a 2011 one there’s not much different to tell them apart. The real work has been happening behind the scenes, with a revised engine line-up and new equipment on offer across the range. The highlight of the range and no doubt the key seller is this 2.0-litre TDI model, available in both saloon and Avant appearance. The car I test drove was fitted with a six-speed manual gearbox that offers smooth, light gear changes. With 177hp produced from the turbo-charged diesel engine, there’s plenty of power available, mid-range torque is very respectable with 380Nm produced. Audi has engineered a few new additions to this engine which include the start/stop system, something I’m not a fan of, but here it works effectively with almost instant start-ups when you depress the clutch at a standstill. The upshot is as much as a 21 per cent improvement on fuel economy over its predecessor. Audi claim a combined average fuel consumption of just 4.7l/100km, like all manufacturer figures it’s almost impossible to achieve this in the real world. That said, over a week’s driving I returned an impressive 5.6l/100km. With 126g/km of CO2 this model is seated in tax band B, with €225 annual road tax. There’s a 2.0-litre TDI variant with 120hp that’s placed in band A, thanks to 119g/km of CO2 emitted. On the road the most notable thing is the noise, lack of it to be precise, this diesel TDI is pretty-much silent on the move. This front-wheel-drive variant drove faultlessly for the majority of the time, although seemed to have trouble coping with the drive on initial acceleration from a standstill, causing the electronic stability programme (ESP) to intervene and therefore cut power to the wheels on occasions.
Standard equipment across the A4 range has improved with all models coming equipped with Bluetooth connectivity, rear park assist, a multifunction leather steering wheel and 17” alloys. My SE test car benefits from such accompaniments as cruise control, climate control, anti glare interior mirror and Audi’s Drive select. For an additional €3,750 over the SE model, you can upgrade to the S Line trim. It comes complete with 18” alloys, sports suspension, S line exterior and interior styling, sports seats and xenon headlights. On top of this there’s a host of extras available, it’s quite effortless to rack up a few thousand euros by ticking a few boxes, my test car’s options came to €8,928, with the MMI Navigation being the most expensive item at €2,396. The interior of the Audi A4 offers a sense of excellence through the use of high-grade materials and switch gear. It’s one of Audi’s strong points across all their models.
The Audi A4 is a quality car and all the more user-friendly in Avant specification, purchase one and you won’t be disappointed. There is argument though for opting for something a bit different and saving a good few euros, Skoda’s Superb combi comes to mind.[table “69” not found /]