A Quiet Performer

Auto & Audio March 26, 2018 16:36

By Kingsley Wijayasinha
The Sunday Nation

19,211 Viewed

The A4 Avant maintains good composure at all speeds and in all driving situatons

During its first year, Audi Thailand was able to meet its sales target of 600 units thanks to an attractive lineup of completely built up (CB) vehicles being offered at completely knocked down (CKD) prices.

Apart from Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) that are being offered by rivals such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz (Audi hasn’t completed its electric vehicle feasibility study for Thailand), Audi’s range in Thailand covers all major segments ranging from the diminutive Q2 subcompact SUV to the A8 L flagship model which was officially launched early this month in Pattaya.

It’s also surprising that the most popular model for Audi during the past year isn’t a sedan or an SUV, but the TT Coupe, which has become a favourite among both male and female buyers visiting the Audi Thailand showroom on New Phetchaburi Road. The TT Coupe 45 TFSI quattro S-line with 230hp (Bt3.199 million) and the TTS Coupe quattro with 286hp (Bt4.599 million) are offered.

However, my favourite Audi model from the current portfolio is the A4 Avant 45 TFSI quattro S-line Black Edition, priced at Bt3.249 million.

I first saw the A4 Avant on Audi’s stand at last year’s Motor Expo and was impressed with the black wagon (Avant). While the wagon versions of the BMW 3-Series (Touring) and Mercedes-Benz C-Class (Estate) don’t look as exciting as their sedan siblings, that’s not the case with the A4.

Actually I think that the A4 wagon looks much better than the sedan, which over the years has always been a bland choice compared to its competitors. The wagon comes with rather compact body dimensions too, with short front and rear overhangs, so don’t expect a bulky mom-and-pop station wagon.

According to Audi Thailand, the customers of the A4 Avant aren’t soccer mums, but rather young hipster singles with active lifestyles. Being 50 years old, I didn’t appreciate that statement very much – I’m sure I can be hip too, even at this age.

Well, part of the reason that it’s popular among the younger crowd is that this ain’t no regular A4 Avant for the supermarket or department store, but the performance model with all-wheel-drive and sporty S-line/Black Edition packaging.

The A4 Avant looks great in black (the demo car even came with black solar film giving it that secretive mafia look), which adds a good degree of fierceness to balance with the unisex Audi design. The 19-inch wheels with low-profile tyres, along with the low ride height gives it even more character. This is a wagon that people are really going to notice (you will need a new exhaust system to get the maximum effect though).

Get inside and you are greeted by a luxurious mix of leather, aluminium and other high-quality materials Audi is well-known for. Assembly quality is excellent and in my point of view is a strong point of any Audi.

The bucket seats are pretty deep and tight (totally unlike the comfy seats in the Q7), reminding you of the vehicle’s sportiness, but I didn’t like the granny-styled diamond-cut design, which was more suited to an elegant British sportscar for the true gentleman rather than a compact German power wagon.

You don’t get the latest Audi Virtual Cockpit in this model, and will have to do with the usual analog meters. But there’s nothing to complain here. The flat-bottomed multi-function steering wheel comes with controls for everything.

There’s a lot of information being displayed, and it takes a little getting used to where each is located. For example, try looking for the clock and you’d spend some time searching around.

There is plenty of room inside for both passengers and cargo. The luggage compartment holds 505 litres – with the rear seat backrests folded you can get as much as 1,575 litres.

For the Thai market, currently the A4 Avant is offered with one powertrain choice – a 2.0-litre direct-injection turbocharged engine with active boost control. Engine size seems pretty small for a wagon weighing in at 1,575kgs? Not really.

The turbocharged powerplant pumps out as much as 252hp and 370Nm and can propel the A4 Avant from 0-100km/h in 6 seconds flat just like a performance model. Top speed, meanwhile, is claimed at 250kph.

The 7-speed DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission) isn’t jerky and provides smooth shifts. Manual mode can be operated via shift paddles behind the steering wheel, and the gear position is also displayed while in auto mode.

On the highway, driving the A4 Avant 45 TFSI quattro was like driving a sports sedan with extra stability, thanks to the quattro all-wheel-drive system. Apart from the swift acceleration at every speed range, it also held on to curves with plenty of grip, offering the driver lots of confidence.

The electromechanical steering adjusts the weight nicely between low and high speeds. Steering precision is good too, turning into corners sharply like it’s not a station wagon. The 5-link front and rear suspension, plus low-profile 245/35 ZR Michelin Pilots on 19-inch alloys, also do ther job well in maintaining good composure at all speeds and in all driving situations.

Despite coming with the Driver Select function offering various driving modes, including comfort auto and dynamic, there’s not much audible enjoyment. The engine is smooth and the noise is well-kept from the cabin resulting in a quiet atmosphere, but there’s just no fun when you floor the pedal. With this type of performance, you’d expect to hear a much sportier exhaust note from the 252-hp A4 Avant.

After driving the Audi A4 Avant 45 TFSI quattro S-line Black Edition for three days, I admit that I had fallen for it. At this pricing and with the performance offered, along with the versatility of the wagon bodystyle but without having to look bulky, this is going to be one of my top 10 drives of the year.

Audi A4 Avant 2.0 TFSI quattro S-line Black Edition specs

Engine: 4-cylinder 16-valve with turbocharger

Displacement: 1,984cc

Bore and stroke: 82.5x92.8mm

Compression ratio: 9.6:1

Max power: 252hp/5,000-6,000rpm

Max torque: 370Nm/1,600-4,500rpm

Transmission: 7-speed DCT

Ratios: 3.188/2.190/1.517/1.057/0.738/0.557/0.443

Final drive ratio: 4.270

0-100kmh:  6.0 secs

Top speed: 250km/h

Fuel economy (km/litre)

City: 12.5

Highway: 17.2

Combined: 15.1

Average CO2: 150 g/km

Suspension (f/r): 5-link, stabiliser/5-link, stabiliser

Steering: speed-dependent electromechanical rack-and-pinion

Turning circle: 11.6 metres

Brakes (f/r): vented disc/disc

Dimensions (mm)

Length: 4,725

Width: 1,842

Height: 1,434

Wheelbase: 2,820

Track (f/r): 1,572/1,555

Weight: approx. 1,575 kgs

Wheels: 19-inch alloy

Tires: 245/35 ZR19

Fuel tank capacity: 58 litres

Price: Bt3.249 million

Distributor: Audi Thailand (Meister Technik Co Ltd)