August 30, 2001

The New A4 Avant: Dynamism and Design in the Fast Lane
Text and pictures courtesy of Audi AG

The new Audi A4 Avant has arrived: it provides top-level dynamism with the unsurpassed agility of its aluminum suspension and powerful, free-revving engines. Its design combines aesthetic precision and functional perfection in a truly modern interpretation of the Avant's typical lines. It's a genuine Audi in every way.

After an impressively successful history - with more than 500,000 units sold, the A4 Avant is the most successful premium estate car in its segment worldwide - Audi now presents the next generation. The current A4 Avant again overtakes its competitors and makes a convincingly dynamic design statement.

Audi A4 Avant: the trend-setter

Audi A4 Avant: since 1996 this model designation has stood for one of the most popular vehicles in its segment. From the very start the A4 Avant became the best-selling car in the German premium midsize estate car segment and remains unchallenged to this day.

In other markets, too, the Avant quickly became one of the most popular cars in the upper midsize class. In Western Europe, the Audi A4 raced clearly ahead of its two main German premium-segment rivals in the sales statistics.

The previous A4 Avant, introduced in 1996, sold more than 300,000 units in Western Europe alone and established a new segment. Its name became a synonym for the compact, exclusive estate car. This success is evident from a glance at the sales statistics: the Avant's share in the total volume of Audi A4 sales was 47 percent in 2000 and therefore significantly higher than competitors' shares in the premium segment.

There are many reasons for this success story, for instance the big range of engines - spark-ignition units from 102 to 193 bhp and TDI engines from 90 to 150 bhp - provides an ideal choice for everybody.

Every model except those with entry-level engines was available with quattro permanent all-wheel drive, a unique option in this class.

Audi quattro: this term has long been synonymous with a perfect blend of good handling and safe driving in all conditions. It comes as no surprise therefore to learn that latterly almost one in four buyers of the A4 have opted for quattro permanent all-wheel drive.

An equally important factor for many drivers of the A4 has been the quality of the materials used on this model and its standard of workmanship throughout its entire life cycle - in both cases with the influence of the luxury car class well and truly evident. Such standards have always been particularly noticeable inside the A4. Its drivers benefited from a wide range of equipment and customization options. The A4 model range proved capable of satisfying the desire for both undiluted sports character and exclusive lifestyle articles.

Audi's development engineers also treated safety as a matter of prime importance on the A4 Avant. Outstanding body rigidity, the safety pedal system and finally the pioneering SIDEGUARD airbag system are prime examples of advanced technology for occupant safety. Market studies have revealed that safety was consequently one of the key criteria for many customers deciding to buy an A4 Avant in the first place.

Interestingly, though, in many instances it was also a case of "love at first sight". The Audi A4 Avant's sporty, functional design impressed customers and experts alike. In 1999, three years after its introduction, as many as 40 percent of A4 Avant drivers declared that design was their most important reason for buying the car. "Love at first sight" was thus mentioned twice as often as for its two most important competitors from Germany.

The Design

The already classic, sporty yet elegant outline of the preceding model and its enduring appeal dictated two important requirements to be met by the designers of the latest Audi A4 Avant. They decided that this latest version of the Audi Avant should retain a shape noted for its clarity and precision.

As with the saloon, the decisive move by Audi's design team led by Peter Schreyer was to reduce the chosen lines and design elements to an optical minimum.

What are the features of this formal idiom? Even at first glance, one can identify the relationship between large, clearly shaped body surfaces and the flat, equally bold strip formed by the windows. The discreetly ascending shoulder line and the flat roof area highlight the powerful, dynamic appearance even at a standstill. Clear proportions, a mild wedge-shaped outline and the striking, circular wheel arch cutouts give the A4 Avant's silhouette that genuine Audi look at the very first glance.

No less typical of contemporary Audi design is the way in which the geometry of the joint lines is mapped out with exactitude, as if with a single stroke of the pen. Vertical seams connect the car's underbody with the headlights; the bumpers seem to be genuinely supporting the lighting units.

The well-balanced, simply styled rear end underlines this tension. Seen from the rear, the A4 Avant looks wide and muscular. A chromium edge strip highlights the load area. Visible exhaust tailpipes for spark-ignition engines and alloy wheel rims up to 17 inches in diameter add to the car's sports and elegant character.

This is the image of a vehicle that has come of age, as confirmed by the exterior dimensions. The new A4 Avant's overall length is 4,544 millimeters. The wheelbase has gone up by 33 millimeters from the previous model. Rear-seat occupants in particular benefit from 43 millimeters more knee room.

Overall width has increased to 1,766 millimeters, making the journey considerably more comfortable, as this increases elbow room for the front passengers by 17 millimeters and as much as 29 millimeters for the rear occupants. The height has gone up by 12 to 1,428 millimeters, to the benefit of the interior. Headroom at the front is 13 millimeters greater.

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