A4 Avant provides an excellent ride

Bruce Fraser

Bruce Fraser

For some reason stationwagons have never really taken off in South Africa.

Overseas, particularly in Europe, the versatility of this type of vehicle has proved very popular with motorists looking for an everyday car that is not only good-looking but practical as well.

Motor manufacturers have over the years brought various models to South Africa, most of them falling into a niche market segment and not always selling that well.

I have a feeling the new Audi A4 Avant might fall into this category, and that is not in any way a negative reflection on the vehicle itself.

This is based on the fact that South African motorists - when looking for an alternative to the traditional sedan - seem to prefer the macho image of SUVs and MPVs, which is a pity considering fuel consumption in some of these vehicles and how environmentally unfriendly they can be as well.

The new Avant was launched last Thursday in Mpumalanga and for a day we got to put it through its paces in this picturesque province.

On test we had a choice of the 2,0 TDI manual and the 1,8T FSI multitronic. First up was the 1,8T, which has a five-speed automatic gearbox.

After adjusting the electronic seat, it was time to fire up the 118kW engine and begin our 400km launch test.

My first impression was how solid the car felt. Even pushing it through the bends in the Long Tom Pass I felt safe and comfortable.

Where normally you would ease off on the accelerator I felt sure and confident of the Avant's handling and kept my foot firmly down.

With a boot capacity of 1430 litres there is plenty of space for dad's golf goodies or for mom to do the shopping.

A nice feature on the Avant is the automatic boot that closes at the push of a button.

The Avant has also done away with the traditional hand brake and uses the small electro-mechanical parking brake, which is the size of a switch.

Audi should take a bow in the fuel consumption department. With my right foot often flat on the floor the 1,8T FSI returned a commendable 8,8 litres per 100km.

Next up, the 2,0 TDI also proved a lovely car to drive. It has that distinctive diesel sound but with plenty of oomph to boot!

To choose between the petrol and diesel variety is tough.

Each provides an excellent ride and it might just come down to an individual preference of petrol versus diesel.