Car Test   R0250
  See also R0151 
June 2002
  Audi A4 Avant
Printer Friendly Page Featured model: 2.4V6 Multitronic
When it comes to the A4 (and A6), Audi doesnít offer a hatchback; itís a four-door saloon or an estate car for the prospective owner. But then thatís more or less the same choice as you get with a BMW 3-Series, a C-Class Mercedes Benz and a Volvo S60/V70. Is having a hatch too plebian?
  
   To Audi, ďestate carĒ is almost a dirty word, however- it much prefers ďAvantĒ to describe its holdall. This formula has been highly successful in the market-place in the previous versionís five-year life, with sales outstripping all its premium priced rivals.
  
   The trick is to offer reasonable (though nothing special) load volume in a high-style package, with more adaptability than a saloon with fixed seats. Nothing is allowed to undermine the Avantís looks and interior ambience. The latest model makes one new concession to grubbiness, however- the carpeted load deck can be folded (or removed entirely) to reveal a two-level plastic underfloor area; this enhances load depth by a further 16cm as well.
  
   The tailgate opens to two positions, to help the tall find headroom and the short to reach the grab-handle. The almost level sill and regular load width look inviting, until you realise that rivalsí minimum width (between the wheelarches) is at least as good.
  
   Thereís a useful set of hinged side compartments, though, and the 60/40 split backrest also incorporates a ski-flap and cup-holders within the centre folding armrest. To accommodate longer loads, this backrest flips forwards to rest on the one-piece fixed cushion. This means that the extended load space isnít quite flat and you need to use the lashing eyes to protect front occupants from sliding cargo.
  
   Up front, the Avant is indistinguishable from the saloon, with high-quality yet eminently practical fittings and furnishings. The Avantís insulation from wind noise and body fretting can be taken for granted.
  
   Our test carís new continuously variable transmission behaves differently (which can be off-putting), but there are sound engineering reasons for its way of doing things. The proof of the pudding is, in this case, acceleration times, which are significantly compromised if you revert to manual override. This CVT is also more frugal than a mechanically wasteful torque converter-type transmission. So with, the diesel V6, great things can be expectedÖ..
  
  
AT A GLANCE
  considering size, price and rivals
Controls/displays
Handling/steering
Comfort
Overtaking Ability
Fuel Economy
Space/practicality
Safety Euro NCAP
Security, theft of
theft from
LIKES ...
  • three-pulse lane change for indicators
  • full-size spare wheel - alloy too
  • sophisticated electric window control
  • two-level tailgate - open position
and GRIPES
  • inflexible headrests - get in the way
  • pricey options - some should be standard
  • no bumper nudge-protection
  • rear cushions don't tilt or remove
  • prominent rear centre hump
VERDICT
However much you might like to convince yourself to the contrary, this latest Avant doesnít make sense in terms of roominess, while our carís sports pack wonít suit those who expect more comfort for their extra outlay. This Audiís biggest competitive asset is its CVT automatic - something superior and, at present, unique to Audi. Itís the most compelling reason for preferring this A4 to a Passat.


SPECIFICATION
engine 2393cc petrol V6; 170bhp at 6000rpm, 170lbft at 3200rpm; belt-driven double overhead camshafts, 30 valves   transmission continuously variably automatic (with sequential manual mode); front-wheel drive: highest ratio gives 30.6mph/1000rpm in Drive or 6th gear (manual)
suspension front: independent dampers/struts with integral coil springs, upper and lower wishbones. rear: independent trapezoidal links, coil springs (stiffened Sport suspension option on test car)   steering hydraulic power assistance; 2.9 turns lock-to-lock; 10.8m diameter turning circle between kerbs (15.5m for one turn of the wheel)
brakes ventilated discs front, solid discs rear with standard anti-lock, brake-assist and cornering stabililty controls   wheels/tyres 7in alloy wheels with 205/55 R16W tyres standard (235/45 R17Y Bridgestones on the test car)

THE A4 AVANT RANGE
size and type upper-medium (premium-priced) estate car   trim levels standard, with SE and Sport trim/equipment option packs
engines petrol: 4 cylinder/1.6 litre/102bhp, 4/1.8T/150, 4/2.0/130, V6/2.4/170 V6/3.0/220. Diesel (all Turbo Di) 4/1.9/130, V6/2.5/155, V6/2.5/180   drive 2- and 4-wheel drive, 5- and 6-speed manual (Multitronic continuously variable or Tiptronic stepped automatic)
notable features new 220bhp petrol V6 with 2- or 4-wheel drive, two-level load floor and two-level tailgate opening, chilled facia stowage box


HOW THE A4 AVANT AUTO COMPARES engine (cyl/cc/bhp) revs at 70mph (rpm) 30-70 through gears (sec) 30-70mph in 4th/5th gears (sec) fuel (mpg/CO2) brakes from 50mph (kg/m) maximum legroom - front (cm) typical leg/kneeroom - rear (cm) steering turns/circle (m) overall length (cm)
Audi A4 Avant 2.4a V6/2393/170 2290 9.2 20.3/no 28/228 18/25 112 96/72 2.9/10.8 455
Citroen C5 2.2 HDim 4/2179/136 2270 10.5 14.1/22.8 44/170 22/26.5 109 99/77 3.2/10.65 476
Ford Mondeo 2.5 V6m V6/2495/170 2680 8.5 16.0/22.0 28/240 16/24 111 108/84 2.8/11.3 480
VW Passat 2.5 TDia V6/2393/150 2240 9.4 15.0/no 36/219 14/26 110 101/74 2.8/11.0 470
Renault Laguna 3.0 Tourera V6/2946/210 2180 8.8 auto 25/247 16/25 110 99/70 3.3/10.9 470
Volvo V70 2.4/170m 5/2435/170 2900 8.9 17.5/24.3 31/219 23/23 116 101/77 3.0/11.7 471
  a automatic  m manual
all estate cars


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CONTROLS AND DISPLAYS
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HANDLING AND STEERING
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Sports seats support well with height-variable lumbar adjusters. Six-speed sequential shift facility on automatic, but you do better to leave the CVT on 'Auto'. Head restraints impair rear vision and are hard to reposition.
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Head-turning low-profile rubber with optional sports suspension give bags of grip, but the ride is sufficiently harsh to disturb cornering stability, as well; unsuited to poor roads.
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COMFORT
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We've yet to drive an A4 with standard tyres - hopefully, it's better than this! Agitated ride, but wonderfully smooth engine matched by seamless transmission. Efficient air con but air doesn't always come out where you want it.
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OVERTAKING ABILITY
There's no point in using the stepped manual mode - this box knows best when it comes to rapid overtaking. Only a perceptible delay at T-junction take-offs, spoils things.
  acceleration in seconds in Drive (CVT) to 5800rpm manual hold to 6300rpm 4th gear
  20-40mph 3.0 3.2 no
  30-50mph 3.6 4.1 10.3
  40-60mph 4.5 5.0 9.6
  50-70mph 5.6 6.2 10.0
  30-70mph 9.2 10.3 20.3
  max speed in each gear (* using 6300rpm in manual mode)
     gear      1st*      2nd*      3rd*      4th*      5th      6th
     speed (mph)      34.5      60      84      113      130      116


FUEL ECONOMY
Not as economical as an A6 we tested last year with the same engine and gearbox - but still very respectable by auto standards; big benefits in taxation terms, as well.
  type of use (air conditioning off) AA test (mpg) 
    urban (17mph average/heavy traffic) 17
    suburban (27mph average/6.4 miles from cold start) 21
    motorway (70mph cruising) 33
    cross-country (brisk driving/20 miles from cold start) 25
    rural (gentle driving/20 miles from cold start) 31
    overall mpg 28
    realistic tank capacity/range 63/390
    official mpg (urban/extra urban/combined) 20.0/40.9/29.7
    CO2 emissions 228g/km
    car tax band E


SAFETY  
Poor pedestrian protection, but reassuring for those inside. Consistent, fade-free brakes, with good handbrake performance, too.
    EURO NCAP RATINGS
 
 
 
    BRAKES
 
  from 50mph (with brake assist/ABS)
 
front impact     75%
side impact     100%
overall     88%
overall safety rating    
pedestrian rating    
pedal load     stopping distance
unhurried 10kg     28.5m
sudden 18kg     25m best stop
+ 4kg ie 22kg     25.5m
 
fade resistance/consistency    
Euro NCAP = European New Car Assessment Programme: independent crash safety tests evaluating protection for occupants and pedestrians in an offset frontal collision, side impacts and pedestrian strike conditions
click here for more NCAP details/test results etc.



SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
Looks before function makes this a half-hearted load carrier, with low back seat compromising rear passengers' view as well as leg stretching. Impeccable trim, however (even in load area), but no oddments spots in rear.
  in centimetres (5-door estate car)
  outside
  length 455
  width - including mirrors 194
    - mirrors folded 177
  height (with roof bars) 146
  load sill height (inside/outside) 64b/62
  steering
  turns lock-to-lock 2.9
  turning circle (metres) 10.8
   
  easy to park/garage?
  inside
  front - legroom 88-112
    - headroom 94-102ß
  rear - typical legroom 96
    - typical kneeroom 72
    - headroom 96
    - hiproom 129-136
  load areanull
  load space (all seats in use)(litres/cu ft) 412/14.6
  load length 94-173
  load length to facia 267
  load width 100-104
  load height (to shelf/to top of aperture) 43/70b
ß no sunroof  b + 16 with floor removed


SECURITY  
Excellent tally of standard precautions that also prove effective; only the vunerable luggage area (once access to the cabin has been achieved) remains a concern on Avant.
FEATURES/CONVENIENCE
NCSR RATINGS
central locking  
remote control  
remote window closing  
deadlocks  
alarm (perimeter + interior)   
static/self-locking   
two-stage unlocking   
attack-resistant glass   
AA load area security rating
=standard    =option    =not available
NCSR - "theft of"
 
NCSR - "theft from"
 
NCSR = New Car Security Ratings: a 1 to 5 star system which rates anti-theft protection, both of the car itself and the theft of valuables from within the car
Visit www.thatcham.org for more details
© The Automobile Association Limited 2014