2009 Audi A4 Avant

2009 Audi A4 Avant 2009 Audi A4 Avant
First Drive Review

Conceptually, the irony was comical: “Welcome to Ibiza. Here’s your station wagon.”

Wagon? Really? Thanks, Audi, for bringing us to the world’s preeminent party destination on an island in the Mediterranean Sea and then sticking us in a wagon . Come on, shouldn’t we be driving something like, say, the TT-S convertible? Or maybe an RS 4? Better yet, where’s that lightweight R8 Sport we had just been talking about a couple of days before in Neckarsulm, Germany?

So much for hittin’ Space, Amnesia, or DC-10. There’s something just not right about club hopping in a “stay way.” Maybe we could get away with it in Ann Arbor, Michigan, but Ibiza?

Well, as it turns out, the new 2009 Audi A4 Avant is about as party hearty as a wagon could ever hope to be. And we’re not just talking about tailgate beer busts before the Bruins take on the Trojans. This car has style worthy of the Hollywood glitterati and moves that would make Justin Timberlake step back. Fabulous-looking, well dressed, quick on its feet, and with a damn good optional stereo—maybe Ibiza isn’t such a wrong match for the A4 Avant. Besides, this would be the first time we’d get a chance to sample the next generation of the 2.0-liter turbocharged gasoline engine, and nothing says it’s party time like a turbo, right?

Ibiza? Bring it! Anyone know who’s spinning at Pacha tonight?

Wagon the Dog

To most people, the thought of Audi’s sending us so far from home just to drive the wagon version of its 2009 A4 sedan, which we’ve already driven (and loved), is a bit excessive. But globally speaking, the Avant is an equally significant vehicle; even though the A4 sedan far outsells the Avant by a ratio of 10 to one here in the States, the Avant outsells the sedan in the rest of the global market. And since the A4 is easily Audi’s single most important (read “bestselling”) model worldwide, suddenly such a big shebang for the wagon starts to make sense.

So yes, the wagon is a big deal. And it’s a better deal, too, for 2009. For starters, the new Avant benefits from the same architectural changes that made the ’09 A4 sedan so much better than its predecessor. Now, in case you’ve been under a log since the wraps came off the A4’s sexy two-door platform-mates, the A5 and the S5, the changes started with the shuffling of its longitudinal engine compartment, which resulted in the engine and several drivetrain components essentially switching places. This turned out to be a wonderful thing for two reasons: (1) It cleaned up the previous A4’s handling (more on that later), and (2) it took it from handsome to somewhere near gorgeous.

Moving the front wheels forward, along with a 6.6-inch stretch in wheelbase and a two-inch-wider track, imparts the A4 Avant with nearly perfect proportions. Indeed, the A4 Avant is a truly beautiful car. The A4’s aggressive new front end, with its 14-LED eyeliner, butch intake apertures, and mini-Dagmars at the lower end of the bumper, looks particularly good on the wagon. And the new body-side lines and steep windshield lend a sense of sculpture that becomes a sense of speed as the eye is drawn back over the silver, snug-fitting roof rails and optional panoramic sunroof to the tight rear end, which looks much like that of the A6 Avant.