2009 Audi A4
With gas prices
going up, up and up and the days of large SUVs
rolling down America’s highways slowly winding down, a smaller wagon seems like a smart idea, especially if that wagon is called an Avant and is based on the all-new from the ground-up Audi A4
. For 2009, the Audi A4 Avant has grown longer by 4.6 inches and wider by 2.1 inches, leading to more interior leg and headroom and a larger storage area. The Avant is also lower by 0.7 inches and considerably lighter than the outgoing model, which gives the sleek A4 Avant a smoother, more fuel-efficient ride. The Avant is a neat package that combines great utility and sleek looks, something that Audi has always been known for.
What's to Like
The 2009 A4 Avant is quite a bit larger, but the new MLP chassis has decreased overall weight by ten percent. There is also Audi’s new 2.0-liter TFSI engine that delivers more power and torque with a ten percent fuel economy boost. Quattro all-wheel drive comes standard.
What's Not to Like
We would like the choice of a 3.2-liter engine and DSG, as featured on other Audis like the A3
and the TT
. Also, expensive options can quickly take the A4 Avant well into the pricing stratosphere.
DriverSide Driving Impressions
One of the main criticisms of previous A4 models was that the engine, sitting far ahead of the front axle, upset the A4’s balance. This was the direct result of the previous generations’ architecture. Audi has fixed the problem with the 2009 model, moving the engine back over the front axle to create a superior front-end balance. The new Avant holds the corners better than the model it replaces, especially due to its lower weight. Audi Drive Select is a welcome option - and long overdue option - that controls engine, suspension, transmission and steering characteristics. The system is showcased through a killer dynamic steering system that turns the A4’s steering rack faster at slow speeds and requires less input to complete sharp turns. The optional system has three modes; comfort, auto and dynamic, the last of which really stiffens the steering, providing improved feedback from the road. The overall weight and size difference between the A4 Sedan and Wagon is negligible at best, and the Avant and Sedan provide similar sporty and Teutonic-feeling rides.
Engine and Drivetrain
The A4 comes with a completely reworked 2.0-liter TFSI four-cylinder engine producing 211 horsepower and a massive 258 lb-ft of torque. Audi’s six-speed tiptronic automatic gearbox and Quattro all-wheel drive system comes standard and is the only package available. We hope a Diesel powertrain option makes it over the pond in the future.
Interesting Vehicle Features and Options
You should check the option box for the Audi side assist system, which uses radar sensors to detect vehicles in the A4’s blind spots and warns drivers of the situation by illuminating a warning light on the side view mirrors. Add this to the optional active cruise control system that uses radar to determine the distance to the next car and you have one of the safest
wagons on the road.
Key Technology Evaluation
Audi’s standard bearing Multi-Media Interface (MMI), uses an integrated color screen to control functions such as climate control and the sound system, as well as optional navigation. The headlights are now underlined by sleek, S5
-style LED running lights that have the added effect of reducing daytime running light energy consumption by 95 percent.
Green Evaluation/Gas Mileage
Official EPA numbers aren’t available yet, but Audi has promised efficiency increases. The current ULEV-II 2.0 TFSI engine returns 20 mpg city and 28 mpg highway, and Audi is promising an increase of 15 percent fuel efficiency, which should result, we can hope, in a combined cycle of 24-25 mpg.
A Closer Look: Vehicle Details
The A4 Avant surrounds you in a plush comfortable interior
that exudes a high level of techno sportiness. While Audi has been a leader in interiors, the last generation A4 was getting a little long in the tooth. The new A4 builds upon the previous models but adds a level of luxe sophistication that is as easy to use as it is beautiful for an entry-level premium car. We hope the Red Silk Nappa leather is an option too.
As a result of its increased length and wider track, the 2009 A4 Avant has a lower and much sportier look. The side sills build off of the A4 Sedan and incorporate a flowing, protruded line, which gives the Avant a nicely stylized look. The front-end is all massive trapezoidal grille and S5 LED lights. The Avant looks like an elongated A4 sedan, which is a great compliment, as Audi decided to leave the fussiness on the drafting table.
Market Segment and Pricing
The A4 won’t be on sale in North America until mid-September 2009 and official pricing is still being established. But Ingolstadt assures us that pricing won’t be too far afield from the 2008 model. The A4 Avant is in a mighty segment, fraught with fellow European competitors like the Saab 9-3 SportCombi
, Volvo V70
, Volkswagen Passat Wagon
and the BMW 328xi
. We think the A4, with new 2.0 TFSI engine can hold its own and, in fact, beat its competitors in a head to head challenge.
What We Think
Audi plans on selling around 20,000 A4 Avants in the U.S. for 2009, which to us, is a shame. While we like the Audi Q7
, especially in its V6-guise, the Avant makes a lot more sense in today’s day and age. The combination of sleek and sporty with ease of use is a surefire winner, but try telling that to the American buying public. If anything good comes out of the latest gas crunch, we hope it’s a newfound love of elegant sport wagons. The world would seem a whole lot less crowded if a large percentage of Soccer Moms switched from the 7-passeneger SUV to this sleek, new Audi.