What it Is
2009 Audi A4 Avant Preview – 2008 Geneva Auto Show: We will come clean here: We like wagons. No, really. They’re a one-vehicle solution to many of life’s problems. You have room, since they almost always share their underpinnings with a sedan. You have cargo space because, well, they’re wagons. And thanks to companies like Audi and wagons like the A4 Avant, you have sport. The 2009 model year will see the introduction of an all-new A4 Avant, and we can’t wait to get our hands on one. Sharing its underpinnings with the new A4 sedan and the A5 coupe, the A4 Avant promises good things to those who love to drive, but need to carry a lot of stuff, too.
Why it Matters
With the A4 Avant, Audi completes the redesign of its standard A4 lineup. While wagons may not be hot sellers in the U.S., they remain a leading category in Europe, which of course explains the Geneva unveil. The on-sale date will coincide with the sedan’s Fall 2008 debut.
What’s Under the Hood
Though several engines are slated for the European version of the A4 Avant, we have two coming our way. The first is a new turbocharged four-cylinder. Beyond that we don’t know much; Audi isn’t giving out any specifics, but figure a good step up from the current 2.0-liter turbo. The optional upgrade engine will be the 3.2-liter V-6 with Audi’s FSI direct injection technology, good for 265 horsepower. In addition, Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive system will be standard across the board, and a six-speed automatic with Tiptronic gear control will be available for the V-6.
What it Looks Like
Low and lean describes the new A4 Avant. Sharing its front third with the sedan is no bad thing of course, what with the expressive grille, LED accents in the headlights and wide stance. The Avant also benefits from the A4’s newfound wheelbase stretch. However, the wagon portion is no afterthought. Like other Audi wagons, it’s clear that the new A4 was intended to have a carryall version from the beginning. The taillights echo the sedan’s, the lower character line along the side sweeps up into the hatch area, and the rearmost pillars slope dramatically forward. OK, that last part probably kills a little bit of cargo room, but it looks great.
Drivers of the A4 Avant will find little differentiation between this and the sedan versions. This should make anybody who appreciates a luxuriously appointed and efficiently laid out cockpit happy. The biggest news is in the cargo space of course, which when fully maximized holds a little more than 50 cu. ft. of stuff. A couple of interesting features are a ski bag that can be used with the second-row seats up, maximizing long-item cargo and passenger space, and a reversible floor that allows you to haul dirty items without messing up the carpet.
What Audi Says
Modesty is never a press-release strength, and Audi is no exception. “Dynamic, elegant, and emotional; with the A4 sedan, Audi has already advanced into a new dimension,” it says. Continuing: “In a few weeks, the A4 Avant will follow: The most successful premium station wagon of its class offers, along with excellent drivability and uncompromising quality, a higher utility value for sports and recreation. This vehicle combines elegance and intelligent functionality.”
What We Think
The A4 is an excellent car already, and the new version will likely eclipse it in every way, if its A5 coupe platform-mate is any indication. The Avant is a niche player in the U.S., but with SUV sales sliding and some people simply refusing to get into crossovers, the A4 Avant’s new proportions and sporty demeanor will likely be right on target.
By Keith Buglewicz
Photo credit: Audi