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Wednesday - 21 October 2020

Audi A4 Avant – The Excellent Executive

Audi has come out all guns blazing with their updated A4 Avant. The latest facelift brings more than just a few updated bodypanels; the 2020 model now features mild hybrid tech to enhance comfort and efficiency and inside the cockpit we now find Audi’s latest MMI touch screens. It’s a three horse race in this segment with BMW’s 3 Series Touring and Mercedes-Benz C-class wagons and Audi’s latest iteration is a clear statement to raise the bar.

Under the hood

The Audi A4 Avant is available with two engine options; the A4 40 TFSI S Line has a 2 litre petrol engine churning out a respectable 140kW and 320nm of torque and the A4 45 TFSI Quattro S Line ups the 2 litre engine’s output to 180kW and 380nm of torque. Both are equipped with mild hybrid technology, helping each tank go a bit further (not to mention beating both of its fellow German competitors in the green game).

Does it shift?

The A4 40 TFSI S Line hops to 100 km/h from standstill in 7.5 seconds and the quattro drops this down to 6 seconds. Top speeds are listed at 238 km/h and 250 km/h respectively. I didn’t feel the need to verify these numbers. This is the travelling executive’s office on the move and for that the A4 40 TFSI S Line’s performance is more than adequate.

Can you fit stuff in it?

Yes you can! With the seats up, the A4 Avant holds 495L of “stuff” and flip them down to unveil another 1,000L of space for a total of 1,495L. It passes the ice hockey gear test with flying colours, even with a pram already in there.

Audi A4 Avant boot space
The Audi A4 Avant will easily fit a full ice hockey bag and a pram in the boot.

It’s a very practical hauler with a powered tailgate and low loading lip making life easy. You’ll also find hooks to tie your stuff down, including a rather clever fold-away top hook to keep your shopping upright. I also appreciated the two LED strips lighting up the boot space in the dark; I wish my car had that!

Family practicality and safety

There are two ISOFIX mounts in the rear of this 5-star Euro NCAP rated wagon and a third in the front making safety seat installation a one-click breeze. The rear door also opens wide making it easy to get your kids in and out. Rear space could be more generous and with my kid in the back, I wouldn’t wish to have any basketball players riding shotgun.

Child safely in the back of Audi A4
The Audi A4 Avant is the perfect Kiwi family wagon.

As expected, the A4 Avant comes with plenty of safety features. It’s got your usual airbags for the driver and passenger as well as front side and curtain airbags to boot. Side airbags in the rear are a $1,000 option. Active Lane Assist is standard, as are Audi pre-sense city and rear features. There’s also a rear cross traffic assist system in both models.

Driver assistance and infotainment

The new 2020 Audi A4 Avant comes with Audi’s MMI touch screen system with GPS navigation. The maps aren’t quite as updated as some others and I managed to freak out the onboard GPS by taking the Huntly bypass on State Highway 1 on my travels. That said, you have Android Auto and Apple Carplay as standard, which I suspect most people will use anyway.

Audi A4 MMI screen
The Audi A4 Avant MMI system is comprehensive and responsive. Photo credit: Dillon Photography

The Audi MMI system’s voice control was a mixed bag of success. In theory it’s absolutely brilliant and I’ve seen videos where it works beautifully, but my funky foreign accent didn’t yield perfect results every time. I fear Kiwi place names don’t help either… Takanini, for example, was a bridge too far in my testing. Surprisingly enough, I also failed to get directions to “Giltrap Audi” or “1 Nixon Street, Grey Lynn” at which point I turned to Google to navigate me around traffic.

Audi A4 digital dashboard
Audi A4 Avant’s virtual cockpit is fully customisable. Photo credit: Dillon Photography

The wireless charging pad in the arm rest worked a treat and keeps you from the temptation of picking up your phone while driving. There’s also a USB Type C port in there to connect your Android Auto so no need to run a lead from the dash. It’d be easy to forget your phone in there, but the car is kind enough to remind you when you open the door if you haven’t picked up your phone.

The Audi’s soundsystem is absolutely brilliant. It’s a rare occasion when I step into a car and take notice of the sound coming from the speakers, but the Audi is truly impressive. You can upgrade to a Bang & Olufsen system for an extra $3,250, but you really don’t need to, unless you’re a real enthusiast.

What’s missing?

Unless you opt for the quattro, you’ll need to make do without a 360-degree camera and adaptive cruise control. Other than that, the new Audi A4 Avant S Line covers the entire gamut of mod cons you need and want in a premium executive wagon.

What’s it like to drive?

Outstanding. The ride is refined, quiet and stable. The seat and steering wheel have all the right movements to find a perfect position and the S Line seats offer exemplary side support for those winding back roads, too. Our test model came with the S Line embossed nappa leather upholstery, which is nothing short of luxurious. It’s almost infuriating that I cannot find a word of criticism to describe the drive and comfort of the Audi A4 Avant without sounding utterly ridiculous.

Audi A4 nappa leather seats
Audi A4 Avant leather seats are divine. Photo credit: Dillon Photography

But let’s remember that today I am a successful business executive and this car is both an essential tool taking me to meetings up and down the country and a reward for my success so this car must be held to account for the tastes and demands of the top end of Kiwi business drivers… no, I still cannot fault this car’s refined drive.

Audi A4 cabin NZ
Audi A4 Avant screens are clear and crisp. Photo credit: Dillon Photography

Audi’s designers and engineers know their audience and this car ticks every single box. I can run my business from the road in this car; I can make and find my appointments, set reminders, make all the calls I need and the cabin is so quiet, regardless of the road surface, that I can easily dial into a board meeting without pulling over.

The gold standard of executive wagons. Rewritten.

The new Audi A4 Avant offers everything a discerning driver wants. Its dynamic styling is absolutely class-leading from all angles and Audi has done a marvellous job making the cabin a First Class experience. It comes with a 5-year warranty (up to 150,000km), 5 years of roadside assistance and a 3 year motoring plan that covers your scheduled servicing at an Authorised Audi Service Centre for up to 150,000km.

Audi A4 Avant rear view
The Audi A4 Avant is about as stylish as it gets. Photo credit: Dillon Photography

Playing around with the Audi Finance Calculator, with a reasonable $20,000 deposit and balloon, you’ll pay this car off in three years for $350 and change per week over three years and that is sure to put this truly magnificent executive wagon on most discerning executives wishlist and deservedly so.

Setti Mulari
Nerd. Dad. Probably lived in more countries than you. Will stop to stare at nice cars.

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