Audi has officially launched the A4 Avant (wagon) version of the A4 series which offers a large cargo space of up to 1,430 litres.
The A4 Avant comes with the same engineering layout as the sedan; its newly developed five-link front suspension has been moved far forward. This provides for an ideal axle load distribution and thus for the highest degree of handling precision and agility.
Audi offers the A4 Avant with five engines options, of which two each are petrol and three are TDI units. While they provide ample power, their fuel consumption, compared to their predecessors, has been reduced by an average of more than ten percent — a convincing testimony for Audi’s efficiency strategy. The wide spectrum of drive train choices and the many sport and comfort technologies employed — inherited from the luxury class — make no secret of the high technical competence of the brand with the four rings.
Compared to its predecessor, the designers tweaked the proportions into a new sporty ratio. The front overhang was shortened, the hood and the wheelbase were extended visibly. The new A4 Avant measures 4.70 metres, nearly 12 centimetres more than its predecessor. It is significantly stiffer and safer than its predecessor, while, at the same time, dropping about 10 percent of its weight thanks to intelligent light-weight steel construction. In its 1.8 TFSI configuration, the new A4 Avant weighs in with a total of just 1,470 kilograms.
With a base size of 490 litres, the new Audi A4 Avant has a larger trunk than any of its immediate competitors. When the rear seat backs are folded down, the cargo space reaches up to 1,430 litres. The rear backrest is split at a ratio of 40:60, with an optional separate ski bag. Audi provides a number of luxury features, like the optional electro-mechanical tailgate drive and luggage retainer set.
The ambience inside the new A4 Avant is light and spacious. The legroom in the back measures 895 millimetres — the best figure in the premium midsize segment. The same goes for the headroom of 971 millimetres.
The new Audi A4 Avant will be launched with two powerful and smooth-running petrol engines and three TDI units. The 1.8T, 2.0TDI and the 2.7 TDI models come with the 8 speed multitronic transmission.
The 3.0 TDI and 3.2 FSI variants come with the 6 speed tiptronic transmission and have quattro permanent all-wheel drive as standard. Under normal driving conditions, this distributes the forces at a ratio of 40:60 between the front and rear axle. This emphasis on the rear end perfectly harmonizes with the overall dynamic character of the new A4 Avant. If needed, the self-locking centre differential transfers the majority of the torque to the axle with the better traction.
In the driveline of the new A4 Avant, the differential has moved directly behind the engine. It has switched places with the clutch or the torque converter. It was therefore possible to move the front axle 154 millimetres forward. This solution provides for a longer wheelbase, a shorter front overhang and a balanced distribution of the axle loads, thus improving handling in particular.
The dynamic suspension of the new Audi A4 was redesigned from top to bottom. The pivot bearings and the five links per wheel making up the front axle are made of aluminum, just like 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 steering impulse can be led directly to the wheels via the tie-rods. The rack-and-pinion steering provides an immediate feel for the road, and its highly efficient servo pump improves fuel consumption by about 0.1 litre/100 km.
For the rear axle, Audi applied the track-controlled trapezoidal link principle of the larger A6 and A8 series. For the most part, the suspension is made of aluminum; the separate layout of the springs and shock absorbers produces subtle responsiveness.
A number of innovative technologies make the driving experience even more dynamic and exciting. The optional ‘Audi drive select’ control system accesses those technology components which affect the driving experience. It influences the engine’s fuel intake, the tiptronic shifting points, and the power steering assistance provided. With the push of a button, the driver decides if these components are to operate in a comfortable, medium, or sporty mode. If the car is equipped with the MMI operating system, a fourth mode is available, which the driver can individually program.
In connection with Audi drive select, there are two additional modular components. One of them is an adaptive controller for the shock absorbers that is linked to a sports suspension which lowers the body by about 20 millimetres. The second component 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 stabilize the new A4 Avant with small lightning-quick steering interventions. The system is also extremely useful when understeer occurs and when braking when traction is only available on one side. The leading-edge Audi dynamic steering system far surpasses solutions offered by the competition. Audi drive select can be ordered with dynamic steering, damper control or both.
The new A4 Avant has available many new new optional features compared to its predecessor such as panoramic glass sunroof, nagivation, TV reception, Bang & Olufsen sound system, Ipod preparation (standard on quattro models) adaptive lights and rear camera parking aid.
The Audi A4 Avant, already the most successful premium wagon in the midsize class worldwide represents 50% of the A4 range retails. Launched in August this year, the range is priced from $71,900 for the A4 1.8T multitronic. All models are available with the S line package.