► CAR's A4 Avant review
► Muscular V6 cheaper than 4-cyl Q5
► Tested in sport S line spec
Plenty of space for the kids, all-wheel drive, a muscular engine and a large, hatchback boot; the A4 Avant 3.0 TDI 218 has everything that makes an SUV so popular. The only problem is that it isn’t an SUV. If you’re after a good all-rounder with the right badge, the right power and the right kit, though, the A4 Avant is a better bet than its Q5 sibling.
If you’ve got your heart set on Audi’s newest off-roader, here’s why you shouldn’t overlook the lower-riding A4 Avant. While £40,690 will get you into the A4 Avant in 215bhp 3.0-litre diesel form – complete with Quattro all-wheel drive, a dual-clutch auto and S line spec – you’ll need £41,085 to get the Q5 in 187bhp 2.0-litre diesel with matching gearbox and trim.
And the difference is even bigger if you pay through Audi’s PCP finance scheme…
More power, more economy, less money
The greater power and lower weight of the A4 shaves 1.5 seconds from the 0-62mph sprint, with the Avant requiring just 6.4 seconds compared with 7.9 seconds. Economy also favours the estate – even accounting for the optional 19-inch wheels on our test car – at 57.6mpg against 55.4mpg.
Despite a premium of £395 for the Q5 if you pay cash, the A4’s lower APR charges and a £3150 deposit contribution discount – you get nothing on the Q5 – mean you’ll have to pay an additional £1100 over three years. Buy the cars at the end of the contracts and Audi will have pocketed a rude £6097.30 extra for the Q5.
So the Q5 may be expensive, but can the older A4 Avant still cut it?
Well, there’s a V6…
For more than £40k you’d expect a potent engine. And the A4 delivers. Yes, this 3.0-litre 215bhp version is a notable step down on the range-topping 268bhp A4, but in return you get a rapid-fire dual-clutch automatic gearbox, compared with the traditional auto in the more powerful model. And trust us; you want the twin-clutch unit.
Audi A4 cars for sale
With short gears and near-instantaneous gear changes, the A4 makes the most of every single pony the smooth engine can muster. Maximum torque builds from 1250rpm meaning that the A4 is pretty effortless to drive, even if you’re getting a move on. The 272hp version may push you further into the seat back when you flatten the throttle, but you also feel much more during every gear change – and it takes a second to work out which gear you want.
Surely it handles better than a Q5?
The A4 makes no claims of being a 718-beater in the bends, but it feels dramatically sharper than the Q5 when you throw it around. A low-slung driving position and supportive seats make the Avant comfortable for long journeys while remaining agile around corners.
The ride is mostly smooth, though the 19-inch wheels make things a lot harsher than they would be otherwise. This may sound like a point in the Q5’s favour, but we found it even more firm and jarring with the same size alloys. If a smooth ride is important to you, go for the A4 and stick to the standard 17-inchers.
Is the interior still high-quality?
Plush materials, a slick media system and crisp dials make the A4 Avant feel suitably upmarket for the price. The Q5 may have a slightly sharper interior, but you won’t feel short changed in here. Admittedly, our test car came with a hefty £9,295 worth of options, but Audi’s still got it in the interior feel-good department.
Having to pay £300 for heated front seats and £225 for folding door mirrors does seem a bit cheeky on Audi’s part, though and you’ll need to steer clear of the option packs if you don’t want the price to quickly spiral towards the £50,000 mark.
The rear seats, meanwhile, are comfortable and more than spacious enough for children and adults alike, though any fully-grown adult consigned to the middle pew will soon complain about the diamond-hard seatback. The boot is similarly useful, being barely down on the taller Q5 with seats that fold completely flat.
The A4 Avant may not be able to match the Q5 for sheer desirability, but it’s a much more sensible buy that should sate the driver, keep passengers more comfortable and please whoever holds the purse strings.
Yes, you can save more cash and go for a 2.0-litre diesel model in front-wheel drive form, but if you’re going to splash £40k or commit more than £400 per month to your car, the 3.0-litre engine and all-wheel drive combo makes it feel like money well spent.