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The Top Gear car review:Audi A4 Avant
For:Impeccable quality, economical engines, well priced, lots of choice
Against:Cramped rear, dynamics merely so-so
2.0 TDIe SE Technik 5dr
What we say:
Load-carrying alternative to the sturdy, classy A4 is sturdy, classy and... not quite a match for a 3-Series
What is it?
For the fast-lane businessman with a load to carry in a hurry, the Audi A4 Avant is becoming the default choice, particularly since it was facelifted and given a distinctive LED running light pattern that apes the all-conquering Le Mans racers. Perfect for shifting sleeping Mondeos out of the way. Following the Audi trend, it is a near-mirror image of the larger A6, and somehow seems to look that bit smarter than the default A4 saloon.
There’s a staggering amount of choice within the bulging model range, including five petrol engines, six diesel motors and more trims than you ever imagined could exist. It’s all topped by the mighty RS 4, whose halo car effect will be celebrated by every single 2.0 TDIe 136 SE Technik driver.
It’s better than it was here – so, even more composed and secure than ever – but it’s still not class-leading, and is some way from matching the brilliance of the latest BMW 3-Series. Ride comfort is trim-dependent (SE is much better than S line) and while all are grippy, it’s the sportier ones that come closest to satisfying like a BMW. Even they don’t quite get there, though.
All engines are excellent, particularly the 3.0-litre V6 diesels. In 245bhp guise, the A4 Avant is quite the express wagon, although the 2.0-litre TDIs that nearly everyone will choose are also fine. Manual gearboxes are OK, S tronic dual-clutch autos are excellent - and the pedals aren’t off set to the right here, unlike in the A6. And the RS 4? With its rorty 4.2-litre V8, there’s no doubting the power, but for all its monumental grip and missile-like speed, it somehow lacks the driver-pleasing edge of the old one. Pity.
On the inside
Beautifully built and with exemplary finish, the dashboard looks a bit fussy in places but is largely as good as you’d expect from an Audi. Seat comfort is top notch and S line chairs drop down so low, it’s almost like you’re sitting in a coupe.
The boot is thoughtfully designed, with ample width and a flat load floor. The parcel shelf could be smarter though, and removing it to drop the seats flat is a muscle-straining fiddle. Rear space is so-so: be warned, if you carry your business pals in the rear often, they may thank you for choosing a Ford Mondeo instead.
Audi never quite manages to match the on-paper fuel consumption figures of arch-rival BMW, but the A4 Avant is still decent compared to most other alternatives. 2.0-litre TDI motors are particularly impressive and combine with better-than-BMW value to work out a few pounds cheaper per month for company car tax. For some, that alone will sell the Audi.