Melanie May
road test

Review: The Audi A4 Avant takes all the effort out of driving - and some of the fun

It’s a blissfully smooth cocoon that leaves drama at the door.

THE AUDI A4 Avant is a large swooping estate car, with a drive that’s as smooth as its design. It’s one of the most refined cars I’ve driven this year.

First, the interior: it’s slick and doesn’t feel overly fussy. It has lovely tactile materials including soft perforated leather, embossed Alcantara and brushed aluminium.

The S-line test car’s sports seats are anatomically shaped, large and very comfortable with plenty of adjustment. The head restraints are not only height adjustable but can also be positioned a set distance from the head.

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The seven-inch colour display and driver information system are very easy to read and operate, while all of the controls, buttons and dials fall very easily to hand – making them simple to use without having to take your eyes off the road.

One of my favourite features is the LED interior lighting pack, which illuminates every switch, dial, socket and even the door sills. It makes night-time driving a tranquil experience. I could see everything I needed – no fumbling around in the dark to plug my phone into the USB socket as its surround is lit up. It’s these little things that I really like about the A4.

(This pack is standard on SE and S line trims and a €349 option on Attraction models.)

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There is plenty of leg and headroom in the rear and you’d get three adults across the bench seat as long as the middle passenger puts their feet either side of the transmission tunnel.

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The boot is a good size and can hold 505 litres with the rear seats up and 1,510 litres with the seats tumbled. (Conveniently, the seats can be folded via a lever in the boot.) The luggage cover moves back and forth electronically too, which is handy.

It’s the combination of convenient features, driving position, driver-centric functions and ambient lighting that makes motoring in the A4 Avant a very relaxed affair.

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Speaking of which, this is one of the most refined cars I have driven in 2016. There is almost no wind or road noise and the engine is well insulated from the cabin. It is really quiet. Blissful.

The S-line test car has the S Sports suspension set-up, which sees it lowered by 20mm with stiffer suspension and damping to help aid sportier handling. And whilst it does feel firmer it is in no way is rough or uncomfortable.

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The transmission is smooth and doesn’t seem to miss a beat. There is also a manual mode that lets you use the paddle shifters should you so desire. The test car was front-wheel drive but it can be equipped with Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive system.

Power delivery is smooth and the engine’s 320Nm of torque arrives low down in the rev range making overtaking and fast getaways painless.

The steering is well weighted but there wasn’t much feedback through the steering wheel.

In fact, there wasn’t much feel or feedback in the drive at all, which, for me, made the drive a little dull and not that exciting. But maybe, for this car’s purpose, that’s OK. It is a very competent car and does an outstanding job at covering large distances in supreme comfort and refinement, whilst leaving drama at the door.

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Pricing for the Audi A4 Avant starts at €38,200. This top-spec S line test car, powered by a 150hp 2.0-litre four-cylinder TDI engine and mated to a seven-speed S-Tronic transmission, costs €52,838 including the optional metallic paint and 19-inch 5-V spoke design alloys.

In summary, the Audi A4 Avant is very refined and the automatic transmission is super smooth. This car feels like a cocoon and it makes even the most difficult of journeys effortless.

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Is this the right car for you?

If you want a big family estate car with a fancy badge that offers outstanding refinement and comfort and takes the effort out of driving, then the A4 Avant is the car for you.

If you are looking for an alternative premium estate that has better handling and a more engaging drive check out the BMW 3 Series Touring, which is priced from €38,940 but its cabin isn’t as slick as the A4 Avant’s although it does have better leg and headroom for rear passengers.

However, if your budget can’t stretch that far but you still want a big comfortable family estate car then check out the Skoda Octavia, which is priced from €19,995 or the RS version, which is more powerful than the A4 Avant and is priced from €34,495.

Another alternative is the handsome Mazda6 Tourer, which is agile, handles well and offers great levels of refinement and space. It is priced from €31,395.

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