Avant you no­ticed?

Audi’s new A4 wagon car­ries an air of real lux­ury, writes PAUL POT­TINGER

Herald Sun - Motoring - - First Drive -

ONCE you scrape off the usual Audi mar­ket­ing froth about an ‘‘emo­tional driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence’’ and ‘‘a mi­cro­cosm in a macro­cosm’’, the lat­est A4 Avant emerges as a very de­sir­able lux­ury lug­gage lug­ger.

What Audi calls the Avant, a wagon to we Aus­tralians, is the lat­est ex­ten­sion of the new A4 range.

As with most Euro pres­tige wag­ons, a genre be­com­ing ever more ev­i­dent on our roads, the Avant is not a great deal more prac­ti­cal than the sedan. The four-door al­ready has quite a big booty, so it be­comes a ques­tion of which body flicks your switch.

Still, the five-door A4 does have highly use­able space: 490 litres with the back seats up and 1430 litres when they’re folded flat.

Up front there’s a choice of the Volk­swa­gen Group’s di­rect in­jec­tion tur­bocharged four-cylin­der en­gines. Th­ese are the stal­wart 2.0-litre TDI com­mon rail diesel and — one of our favourite small petrol pow­er­plants — the 1.8 TFSI.

Both ver­sions are driven through the front wheels us­ing Audi’s con­tin­u­ously vari­able trans­mis­sion with eight man­ual set­tings.

The take-up rate for the diesel is ex­pected to be less than 20 per cent, though that could change as more peo­ple see the ad­van­tage of a fuel which dom­i­nates in Europe.

Down the line, per­haps in the sec­ond quar­ter of 2009, comes the en­tic­ing prospect of a qu­at­tro all-wheel-drive Avant with a 155kW/350Nm ver­sion of the 2.0-litre turbo four, a driv­e­train that will also go to the A4 sedan.

Like the cur­rent four-door, the Avant has a de­cent level of stan­dard equip­ment and the usual mile-long list of costly ex­tras.

High­light: the Audi A4 Avant pres­tige wagon of­fers a choice of the Volk­swa­gen Group’s di­rect-in­jec­tion tur­bocharged four-cylin­der en­gines.

Big load: the A4 Avant five-door car­ries 1430 litres with the back seats folded flat.

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