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2014 Audi A4 Avant TDI Ultra Review

Ultra efficiency, no compromise By ,

Copenhagen, Denmark -- Another station wagon, another love story. This time, the <3 factor is off the charts. You see, Audi offers an A4 wagon that we are no longer blessed with having in showrooms (other than in Allroad form) that can be motivated by a TDI engine, and a 6-speed manual transmission matched to the legendary Quattro AWD system.

In my books, this is a recipe for triumph. The point of this driving exercise was to explore and make nice with Audi’s latest version of its insanely successful diesel engine, the famous TDI. In this A4 Avant, I came face-to-face with power, performance, efficiency, and refinement -- a series of adjectives that only a decade ago were impossible to all associate with a compression-ignition engine.

The new line of TDI Ultra engines will shortly be made available to Audi buyers in North America. Of all on offer, the 2.0L seems best suited for the compact A3 and A4 cars and for our markets. My time with the A4 Avant proved to me that Audi clearly knows what’s up when it comes to cake and eating it.

What is an Audi A4 Avant?
The A4 -- found on dealer lots and roads largely unchanged since 2009 -- is Audi’s bread-and-butter car. The title of bestseller has shifted to the Q5 recently, but the A4 remains the brand’s signature car.

Avant is Audi speak for station wagon and is available for the A4 and A6. The A4 Avant is an excellent family car for the discerning luxury car buyer looking to stow gear and people to go on road trips in style.

2014 Audi A4 Avant Price and Specs
The 2014 Audi A4 sedan sports a base retail price of $37,800. The Allroad, the closest relative to the Avant, goes for $46,500.

A similar as-tested FWD A4 Avant TDI Ultra 6-speed retails for roughly €43,000. On the Canadian market, it would likely go for the same amount, however, in CDN dollars.

What makes the Ultra tick is a newly minted 2.0L TDI 4-cylinder engine that features variable turbine geometry and direction injection. Its rated output is of 163 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. There are more powerful iterations of the 2.0 TDI but this Ultra version is intended primarily for optimal fuel efficiency.

Ultra stands for a number of changes made to the car and its powertrain. The engine is designed with minimal internal friction; the transmission sports taller gear ratios in the higher gears, start-stop technology and aerodynamic modifications, as well as a lower ride height. All of this makes the Ultra cars the most eco-friendly they can be. Case in point, the A4 Avant Ultra is rated at 4.4L/100km (53.5 US mpg) and 114 grams CO2 per kilometer.

Driving the Audi A4 Avant
In ideal Scandinavian summer conditions, the absence of Quattro was never even considered as a letdown as it normally would. The focus of this driving experience was not practicing my Scandi-flick around every tight bend, it was a voyage of discovery in the world of diesel proficiency and performance.

As I expected, torque delivery is immediate and lustfully 100% on tap as of 1,750 rpm. Turbocharging and direct injection created a series of engines that generate a large lag-free powerband rich with low-end torque and mid- to high-end horsepower.

The push is rewarding, but not mind blowing -- satisfactory is the right word. Rowing through the gates of the 6-speed manual box is pleasant as the pedals are well positioned and the shifter’s travel is slick. Steering is precise and well judged.

Handling is good or better than any 1,650+ kg (3,630+ lb) station wagon in its category. The A4 Avant’s chassis and suspension are geared for comfortable cruising without sacrificing stability. The A4, despite getting on in age, feels solid and every bit as German and sturdy as it should be.

Sadly, on these brief driving events, I never get to figure out fuel mileage. The indicated average was in the mid 5 litres per 100 km, which (knowing I was behind the wheel) is impressive.

Inside and Out of the Audi A4 Avant
A growing concern for Audi is the A4’s age. The new car should have been introduced by now, but various reasons have stalled the intro of the next one. Be that as it may, the current A4 is a handsome, uber German saloon or estate.

Sober, elegant and still modern design-wise, the A4 looks great especially when shod with the right wheels and the S-Line package.

Lifting the hatch reveals a decent-size trunk willing and able to carry weekend camping gear or hockey equipment. Both rows of seats are welcoming and cozy. The cabin is plenty roomy for 4 adults and the rear bench will accommodate 3 if need be.

The A4 Avant’s front quarters are classy and well appointed. All in all, the A4 Avant 2.0 TDI Ultra would make an excellent car for touring Europe; it is roomy, comfortable, and great on fuel.

Comparing the Audi A4 Avant
North America is privy to BMW’s 3 Series wagon, with either a gas or diesel engine. If an A4 Avant were to again be offered, the 3 would be its greatest foe. Only inches behind would be the fantastically sexy Volvo V60.

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