Big space, superb refinement, great interior
Touchscreen infotainment is a downgrade
What is it?
Audi’s smallest estate, and its heartland family car until all those crossovers came along and stole its thunder. The A4 Avant is Audi’s answer to the BMW 3 Series Touring, Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate and Volvo V60. It’s based on the VW Group's MLB platform.
But the estate – or ‘Avant’ – is the one you want because it’s miles more practical and, we think, better looking. You want it over the Q5 SUV, too, because it’s cheaper, more compact but just as practical, more economical and better to drive. Just as all estates are versus the SUVs/crossovers everyone seems to buy instead. If you absolutely can’t do without a slightly raised ride height, the A4 Allroad goes as far off road as you’ll probably ever need it to.
The engine range is mainly made up of turbocharged 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrols and diesels. The lukewarm S4 gets a six-cylinder diesel (yup, diesel), while the RS4 (Audi’s estate-only answer to the BMW M3 and Mercedes-AMG C63) uses a 2.9-litre biturbo V6 with 444bhp. There is no plug-in hybrid or full-electric version as yet, but many versions do have mild-hybrid tech.
Of the ‘normal’ A4 Avants, our choice is the mid-range ’40 TFSI’ which has front-wheel drive, an automatic gearbox and just shy of 200bhp.
This generation of A4 was launched in 2015 but comprehensively updated for 2019. While it looks similar, much of the bodywork is actually new. Meanwhile inside Audi ditched its excellent click-wheel infotainment system for one with a touchscreen. It’s still not as good to drive as a 3 Series, but that’s by design. The A4 is supposed to be quieter, higher-quality and more refined. Sure enough it’s quiet, feels very well made and hums along a motorway very well indeed.
Our choice from the range
What's the verdict?
The A4 Avant might not have the hustle of a BMW 3 Series Touring, but it’s got high-quality and refinement on its side. As people who enjoy driving our money would go on the BMW, but the A4 remains a very complete car and quite easy to recommend for it. It’s spacious, has an excellent interior (gripes with the infotainment aside) and drives more ably than you might think.