Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Estatement of Intent

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Estatement of Intent

Article excerpt

Byline: Jonathan Crouch

THE fifth-generation Audi A4 Avant claims to be class-leadingly efficient, hi-tech and, yes, practical.

There's a 510-litre boot that's bigger than you might expect from a car in the compact executive market segment and the usual cool, classy Audi ambience. You'd like one.

The A4 has always struck an appealing balance between handling and comfort, and with this MK5 Avant model, the Ingolstadt engineers have sought to improve its credentials still further by developing a new five-link suspension system.

Optional adjustable shock absorbers with sports and comfort modes will enable owners to get the most from this, and a dynamic steering system is another extra cost feature that'll reward those who like their driving.

Both features can be controlled through the standard Audi drive select drivingdynamics system, which alters throttle response and auto gearshift timings in its most basic form.

Talking of auto gearshifts, the old CVT automatic gearbox has gone, replaced by a seven-speed dual clutch S tronic unit that claims to be able to improve both performance and fuel consumption.

As before, the A4 differs from its BMW 3 Series rival in its use of front-wheel drive for most models. Also as before though, quattro 4WD is optional - and standard on the top V6 variants.

The most powerful of these models has the option of a sports differential for the rear axle to maximise traction.

Refreshingly in a segment dominated by cars fuelling themselves from the black pump, TFSI petrol models are still very much part of the mainstream A4 range, a 150PS 1.4-litre unit offered alongside a pokey 2.0-litre powerplant offering either 190PS or 252PS.

There's also a 354PS 3.0-litre TFSI sporting S4 model at the top of the range. Most A4 buyers, though, will continue to want a diesel, probably the 2.0 TDI 150PS variant, which gets to 62mph from rest in a brisk 8.6s.

If you want more diesel power, then a 190PS version of this unit is also available, plus there's a 218PS 3.0 TDI V6 model further up the range.

Styling is a subjective matter, but let's just say that this MK5 model A4 Avant has dodged the ugly stick by quite some margin. …

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