When we arrived in Ibiza, Spain to drive the new Audi A4 Avant, we were a bit surprised to have six engine variations of the vehicle to drive…not surprised by the number of engine options but surprised by the fact that they did not have the variation that would be offered here in the US, come late September.
The engine options for buyers interested in the 2009 Audi A4 Avant will be sparse…and by sparse, I mean non-existent when it comes to the engine and transmission. The US market will have one choice: the 2.0T four-cylinder engine with quattro and the Tiptronic “fast shift” six-speed automatic transmission. The 2.0T will produce 211 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. You can, however, choose your paint color, 15 choices in all, and a variety of other driving features and equipment packages.
The new styling of the A4 Avant is superb, making it the first estate-style vehicle that I would ever consider purchasing. The main “torpedo line” ties the front end of the vehicle all the way to the rear, giving the A4 Avant an almost coupe-like line, reflecting the sporty side of Audi. Overall, the 2009 Avant has been worked over and is now 12 cm longer, 6 cm wider, and almost 9% lighter than the outgoing model.
So, you might ask, how does this new A4 Avant handle? Well, to put it frankly, with the drive select feature in the dynamic mode, I didn’t feel like I was in an Avant; I felt like I was in a sports sedan. The Audi drive select is a great feature, with the modes chosen with a push of the button. Drive select can be ordered in many different versions with dynamic steering and/or shock absorber control and integrates three systems: The engine’s throttle response, the speed-dependent servotronic power assistance, and the tiptronic/multitronic shift points. It allows the driver to choose between ‘comfort’, ‘auto’, and ‘dynamic’. Comfort mode is ideal for relaxed driving on long trips or on ill-maintained roads, while auto mode is the most balanced, and dynamic mode, my preferred mode, is the tight, firm stage where you can experience Audi’s power and sportiness. Basically, whichever mode you select, the control unit then adapts to match your driving style and the road conditions.
Since we’re talking about things that can be done with a touch of a button, I can’t forget to mention the optional electric opening and closing tailgate. To open, you can use the button on the key, the handle at the tailgate, or the button on the driver’s door. The hatch then closes with touch of the button located on the tailgate. The opening angle is also programmable so a person with my 5’4” height could set it to their ideal reach while someone over 6′ tall could also customize it to their height. The conventional handbrake has gone the way of the dinosaur and has been replaced by the new electromechanical parking brake, giving the driver ample space to spread out.
When someone is buying the A4 Avant over the regular A4 you have to assume that they are looking for the luxury and sport associated with the namesake but with extra utility; and let me tell you, the Avant does not disappoint. The cargo space of the Avant is great, and when customizing your purchase you should definitely consider the cargo space package that includes a luggage retainer set. The package gives you two rails along the walls of the cargo area where a telescopically extendable load lock and a spring-loaded belt can be hooked. This keeps luggage stable, even if you only had a few small pieces to stow and the majority of the cargo space is empty. With your cargo securely stowed, you won’t have to worry about it moving and spilling at every turn and stop. If you’re using Audi’s quattro to take the road less traveled for outdoor adventures and have muddy and dirty equipment or clothing, the reversible luggage compartment load liner that flips to reveal a sturdy, easy-to-clean tray will be a great asset to have so you don’t ruin the quality velour carpeting. As a snowboarder, I’d not only use the reversible luggage compartment for my wet boots but I’d also upgrade to one of the various roof racks for my boards.
Other great features and options include the automatic cruise control (ACC), lane assist for risk-free lane changing, parking system advanced (APS) for tight parking in the city, the 220v socket for a laptop charger in the backseat, the panoramic glass roof, navigation, and the Bang & Olufsen sound system. So, despite only having one engine choice, you can still spend a lot of time thinking of the many ways you will customize your A4 Avant
If you want a few more choices with your A4, wait for the A4 sedan that also arrives in the Fall. With the A4 Sedan, you will be able to choose between front wheel drive or quattro, the 2.0T or 3.2L V6 engine and a manual or automatic transmission. But, look at it this way: While the Europeans are wringing their hands and pulling out their hair with the five gasoline and five TDI options before them, we’ll already be cruising in our 2009 A4 Avants.