Audi_A4_Avant_front - CopySo, you don’t think wagons are cool?

Well, champion surfer Mick Fanning, an Audi ambassador, drives an Avant. And if you want to debate coolness with a man that barrels through waves and stares down sharks, then go right ahead.

The A4 Avant is available in two petrol variants – either a front-wheel-drive 145kW or Quattro 185kW. Under both bonnets is the same 2.0-litre turbo engine, just with a different tune.

It is longer, wider and lighter than its predecessor and, as we found out during our test week, has a lot to offer.

The A4 Avant shares styling cues with the sedan and is sleek and smart and refined. Is it looker? Not in the Chris Hemsworth league obviously but it is definitely not going to shame you.

The interior of this Avant looks and feels much like the A4 of which it is an extension, all high end tactile materials and a quality fit and finish.

Wagons, if snazzy ones like these are nothing if not practical. The boot space and associated accessories are a case in point.

The floor is reversible – with a rubber mat on the underside – and can be pulled out to make a table. Underneath is a waterproof recess so both you and Mick and store wetsuits or swimmers.

There is a built-in vertical blind, a cargo blind that raises automatically when the tailgate opens and optional divider that can adjusted along the length of the floor to secure smaller items. There are LED strip lights along the sides, nets, hooks and even a pink elephant. Well, clearly not the latter, but you get the feeling that if they could they would.

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Audi’s MMI system fronts the infotainment offering with the 8.3-inch screen controlled by voice or a dial at the bottom of the centre console. There is Bluetooth connectivity and smartphone integration through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Love, love, love Audi’s Virtual Cockpit, a 12.3-inch fully digital instrument panel that can be customized with the information you want alongside the speedometer and tacho. It’s not new, I know, and is an added extra in the Avant but it does add wow factor and jazzes up the classy but conservative surrounds.

Our front-wheel-drive test car was powered by a 2.0 TFSI engine mated with a smooth seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Performance is efficiently easy thanks to 320Nm of torque and 140kW of power.

An impressive safety suite includes eight airbags, blind spot assist and automatic emergency braking with the Assistance Package ($1900) adding lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control and forward collision warning.

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Seats are comfort and supportive, there is enough head and leg room and storage is more than adequate.

The boot, 505 litres that can be expanded to 1510 L with the second row folded is a cavernous affair. The 40:20:40 seats don’t fold flat though which can be annoying.

It is easy to forget you are driving a wagon as the A4 Avant rarely strays from script. Calm and composed, it is super easy to drive, with excellent road manners and sharp handling.

It feels reliable around bends, can get up when you need to overtake or climb and soaks up most bumps and blemishes.

It moves well for a car of this size with smooth linear power delivery and the seven-speed auto transmission that is well matched.

That our test car was the front-driver rather than the quattro version was only really noticeable thanks to slight torque steer when pushed quickly from standstill or low speeds.

Tri-zone climate control, leather sports seats, 8.3-inch colour touchscreen with sat nav and reverse camera, Bluetooth and Wifi connections, 18-inch alloys and an automated tailgate is are just some of the standard features.

We used around 6.5 L/100km during our week in the Avant, close enough to the official 5.6 L/100km to be pleased.

Warranty is three years / unlimited kilometres with servicing costs capped at $1620 over three years. If you are looking to buy in this space it wouldn’t hurt to check out the BMW 3 Series Touring (from $65,300) and Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate (from $63,900)

I am a bit partial to a wagon, simply because I like an underdog and this one in particular has a lot to offer. It has the space and versatility that families need and it rides and handles well too. If it’s good enough for Mick Fanning, it’s good enough for me.

PS: Audi can not guarantee that buying one will turn you into a champion surfer.

Audi A4 Avant 2.0 TFSI
Price: from $63,900 (plus on-road costs)
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol, FWD
Power: 140kW at 4200 – 6000rpm
Torque: 320Nm at 1450-3200rpm
Transmission: Seven-speed dual clutch auto
Fuel use: 5.6L/100km combined
Safety: Five Star ANCAP

What we liked:
Space and versatility
Relaxed, easy drive
Safety suite
What we didn’t like:
Boot not much bigger than sedan
Rear seats not folding flat

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