First Drive

First Drive: Audi A4 Avant

The story:
Audi’s A4 compact executive line-up gets a mid-life refresh, tweaking the exterior, adding mild hybrid technology and upgrading the infotainment system
Category:Compact Executive
Key rival:BMW 3 Series
Audi A4 Avant 25 TDI S-tronic 163hp Sport
Price:£38,275 (est)
MPG:53.3 mpg (est)
Emissions:102g/km(est)
On sale:September 2019

Our reigning CCT100 Compact Executive Car of the Year has been given a significant mid-life upgrade, with
Audi updating the looks, engines and technology on its popular A4 saloon, Avant and Allroad models.

The A4, which accounts for 20% of Audi’s worldwide sales, gets what the brand describes as a more streamlined look and contemporary feel, which translates to a broader single-frame grille with revised front bumpers, and LED headlights now standard across the range. Audi describes the revision as “more than a product development”, with almost every panel claimed to have been changed.

First Drive-September 2019-Audi A4 Avant-Image 5On the inside, the major upgrade is the introduction of a new 10.1-inch touch infotainment screen, which replaces the previous rotary controller and 7.0-inch screen. However, it’s a shame it doesn’t get the haptic touch technology of newer Audi models, which gives you the feel that you’ve pressed a physical button on the screen.

The A4 also retains the rotary controls and buttons for the climate control rather than the two-touchscreen layout of the new A6 and A7 models, among others.

Audi has also increased equipment levels on the revised trims, which now run from the Technik entry model to Sport, S Line, Black Edition and top Vorsprung spec. All cars now get the MMI navigation system, 12.3-inch Audi Virtual Cockpit, heated front seats, four-way lumbar support, reversing camera, LED headlights, rear lights and daytime running lights and auto-dimming door mirrors. Prices rise by between £1000-£1450 depending on trim.

Five of the six engines now get 12V mild hybrid technology to provide a small efficiency boost, with the exception being the 190hp diesel, while the new diesel S4 (see panel) gets 48V mild hybrid tech that has a more significant impact on fuel economy and performance. Unfortunately however, the extra battery does eat 10 litres of boot space in the Avant, dropping it to 495 litres.

First Drive-September 2019-Audi A4 Avant-Image 7The 163hp diesel engine driven here is one of the new units, and replaces the 150hp 2.0-litre. There’s also a new entry diesel of 136hp, replacing the previous 120hp base engine.

Emissions are down to 102g/km for the lower trims, rising by two BiK bands to 110g/km for the three highest ones (due to the larger 19-inch wheels).

The 163hp diesel is pretty potent when it gets going, even if it does labour at low revs and isn’t always the most refined.

Otherwise the A4 driving experience is unchanged, sitting between the more sporting BMW 3-Series and the comfort-orientated Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

All the Audi A4’s strengths are intact, and although not dramatic on the outside, the facelift adds more efficient engines and a neater touchscreen infotainment system. It’s not enough to radically change the A4’s fortunes, but particularly with the extra equipment on the entry Technik model it’s a useful update.

 

Paul Barker

The verdict

Slight visual uplift, better infotainment screen and more efficient engines are all welcome, but it’s not a radical upgrade to a car that is already well liked by company car drivers.