Audi has launched the sleek Avant station wagon version of its new A4 Sedan, at prices starting from $71,900.
The Avant has the same engineering layout as the sedan, with its newly developed five-link front suspension moved far forward. Audi says doing that provides an ideal axle load distribution and a high degree of handling precision and agility.
The new A4 Avant has five engines to choose from, two petrol and three TDI diesels. All use less fuel than their predecessors, an average of more than 10 percent across the range.
Audi stylists have tweaked the A4 Avant’s proportions into a new sporty look. The front overhang was shortened, and the bonnet and the wheelbase were extended visibly.
The new wagon is 4.70 metres long, nearly 12 centimetres more than its predecessor. The chassis is significantly stiffer and safer than its predecessor, though its weight has dropped by about 10 percent through the use of lightweight steel.
In its 1.8 TFSI configuration, the new A4 Avant weighs 1470kg.
With a base size of 490 litres, the new Audi A4 Avant has a large luggage space. When the rear seat backs are folded down, the cargo capacity can extend to 1430 litres. The rear backrest is split 40:60, and Audi offers an optional separate ski bag.
Luxury features include an optional electro-mechanical tailgate drive and luggage retainer set.
The cabin is light and spacious. Rear seat legroom is 895 millimetres, and headroom is 971mm.
The 1.8T, 2.0 TDI and the 2.7 TDI models come with an eight-speed multitronic transmission. The 3.0 TDI and 3.2 FSI variants have six-speed Tiptronic transmissions and quattro permanent all-wheel drive as standard. Under normal driving conditions, this distributes drive 40/60 between the front and rear axle.
The emphasis on the rear end enhances the overall dynamic character of the new A4 Avant.
If needed, a self-locking centre differential transfers most of the torque to the axle with the better traction.
The differential has been moved to directly behind the engine, switching places with the clutch or the torque converter. That allowed the engineers to move the front axle 154mm forward. The result is a longer wheelbase, a shorter front overhang and a balanced distribution of the axle loads, improving handling.
Audi has completely redesigned the suspension. The pivot bearings and the five links per wheel making up the front axle are made of aluminium, as is the front crossmember, which gives the front end of the body more rigidity.
The steering box is located far to the front and deep down so that the tie-rods can feed steering impulses directly to the wheels.
The rack-and-pinion steering has been designed to give good road feel.
Its highly efficient servo pump improves fuel consumption by about 0.1 litre/100km.
In the rear suspension, Audi has applied the track-controlled trapezoidal link principle of its larger A6 and A8 cars.
Most of the suspension is aluminium, and the separate layout of the springs and shock absorbers produces subtle responsiveness.
An optional Audi drive select control system influences the engine’s fuel intake, the Tiptronic shifting points, and the amount of power steering assistance. With the push of a button, the driver decides among comfortable, medium, or sporty modes.
If the car is equipped with the MMI operating system, a fourth mode is available, which the driver can individually program.
There are two additional modular components. The first, an adaptive controller for the shock absorbers is linked to a sports suspension that lowers the body by about 20mm. The second is the optional Audi ‘dynamic steering’, which operates using a superposition gear. Depending on the driving speed, it varies the steering ratio continuously. In the limit range, it works with ESP to stabilise the Avant with small lightning-quick steering interventions. The system is also extremely useful when understeer occurs and if the car is braking when it only has traction on one side.
Audi drive select can be ordered with dynamic steering, damper control or both.
A4 Avant options include panoramic glass sunroof, nagivation, TV reception, Bang and Olufsen sound system, Ipod preparation (standard on quattro models) adaptive lights and rear camera parking aid.
All models are available with the S line package.
The Audi A4 Avant accounts for 50 percent of A4 sales.