Sunday 22 October 2017

Fitter, faster Audi looks the part, and plays it too

AUDI
A4AVANT
RATING 78/100
AUDI A4AVANT RATING 78/100

I'm never mentioning those jennets in red jerseys who 'play' at Old Trafford again. I've had it. Biggest shower of big-headed gutless losers I've come across since . . . whenever.

Not a bit of class in them. God knows we're not looking for miracles.

All we want is a reasonable degree of capability. When you don't have fresh and vibrant quality at the heart of a unit (team), you can forget about it. The thing is you don't notice the quality when it is there. You do when it isn't.

Which is why I took my time assessing this revised and revamped Audi A4 Avant (estate). It is not spectacular or show-offish so you have to dig a little. I worked hard enough to find major changes in its 'new' looks over its old ones.

I found Audi just keep doing things well, even better. No stupid slip-ups here.

It is perhaps a less typically modern Audi to look at inside because it is one of the least eye-catching kerbside.

That said, the A4 is, and always has been, a staple of the compact executive breed here. Some fleet managers will have nothing else. They love them.

The big competitor in everyone's mind is the BMW 3-series but I think that near-exclusive rivalry is a bit overplayed. I believe the A4 is a different kettle of fish with its own set of attributes and, admittedly, shortfalls. I might be wrong but people who buy an A4 are looking for something other than the stylistics and handling of the 3-series (though it does a lot more than that too).

Now don't get me wrong, the new 3-series is an exceptional car by anyone's standards. And it is brand new. Which gives it a huge advantage, for obvious reasons. This A4 is more an advance of increments rather than a huge leap forward. It is more 'holding midfielder' than incisive playmaker. More safe, sound passes than snazzy defence-splitting flicks.

Yet it is hard to find real weaknesses to put you off it. It keeps clocking up the points and doesn't lose too many battles.

Oh! alright I do wish they'd made it look a good deal snazzier. Looks do matter.

By the same token, I have to say the shape of the Avant probably has enough about it to look the part of an upmarket lifestyle vehicle.

But back to the midfield engine room. The real merit here is in the cabin especially with a 2-litre diesel under the bonnet.

It had deep reserves of pulling power and a real squirt when I put the foot down. Great engine, this, and it showed. That is a serious amount of power. I couldn't help thinking: what a great car to cruise on camping holidays down through France. Ah! those were the days.

And like the others in the line-up, it is greener/cleaner thanks in some measure to the car being more aerodynamic.

And because the electro-mechanical steering draws virtually no power from the car when it is being driven in a straight line. These are the little things that collectively make a difference.

I just love the sort of seats in the A4. They are big, comfortable and keep an old back in its place.

You know, there's great space in this estate if you need it. With the back seats down, there's a world of room for anything you want. We all know estates are not seen as that cool here but I think they can be.

Indeed, I would say this Avant has enough going for it to warrant a decent test drive.

It is accomplished in an understated sort of way. Like a good midfielder, you don't notice the many little things that make for a consistent class act. Not perfect by any means but it rarely falls below a decent standard. The same can not be said about the jennets who play in red and think they have a right to win.

ecunningham@independent.ie

Indo Motoring

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