Getting behind the wheel of what will be the last of the A4 as we know it to see what it can offer the forestry professional.

DUE to lack of demand, Audi UK has removed both the Audi A6 Allroad and the A4 Allroad from its price list, so this version of the A4 is the most country version you can now purchase in the UK. It is the estate version, known in ‘Audi speak’ as the Avant, equipped here with 4WD and, in this particular case, a four-cylinder diesel engine pumping out 201 bhp and 400 newton-metres of torque. It has coil suspension, so no air bags to raise it up (mind you, the A4 never had that air suspension option, but the Allroad A4 did sit a little higher than normal).

Throughout the industry, SUVs now account for just over 50 per cent of sales and most folk have moved away from traditional estates into cross-over vehicles or SUVs. This shift in sales has long been the same at Audi, where its SUV range of X3, X5 and X7 are its big sellers. You can certainly see their attraction, with easy access to boot and seats, good visibility and improved ground clearance, compared to a traditional car. 

Forestry Journal:

In the forestry sector, where foresters once drove Skoda Octavia Scouts and land agents Audi A4s, things have changed a lot, guided by company car tax BIK arrangements being updated to express the focus on reducing CO2 emissions. Pickups are now standard wear for many foresters due to BIK. However, they use a lot more fuel than the Octavia Scout did, so I am not sure the environment has benefited much by this move. At the moment, electric vehicles are being promoted by the government, with tiny BIK tax being charged – 1 per cent and slowly increasing. I recently met a chap who had swapped his Audi Q7 for a BMW X3 electric. He likes his new car, but it only has rear-wheel drive and the batteries are stored under the floor, reducing ground clearance a lot.

The American electric pickup Rivian has just come out and an SUV sister version is available too. I don’t know if these will be available in the UK, but their 3–400 mile range will interest many. Ford has also just launched an electric pickup in the USA. So I suppose it’s only a matter of time before we will all be driving electric vehicles. Small, efficient electric vehicles make sense to me if helping reduce car impacts on the environment is your aim. I have driven a few electric cars and been impressed by their refinement. They are quiet and accelerate sharply. They are very cheap to maintain and cheap to fuel. However, they are expensive to build and currently about 50 per cent more expensive in the case of smaller versions. They are also heavy.

Forestry Journal:

So that brings us back to what will probably be the last A4 Avant as we know it. This model came out a few years ago and looked like a mere refresh of the previous model, but in fact it has a whole new body. This is one of the least good-looking A4s to date. I used to be a great fan of the A4 Avant, but this one is not an attractive vehicle. The interior, however, has not changed much. 

This model is named the S Line 40 TDi Quattro S Tronic and what a mouthful that is. I don’t like Audi’s way of badging its cars anymore. What does 40 mean? It appears to relate to the engine in that it is more powerful than the 30, but less so than the 50 – no way of knowing its power, though.

The interior is a fussy mixture of layers of controls with a large screen sticking out of the dashboard. I liked the old Audi way of hiding the screen within the dashboard, emerging when you needed it – alas, no more. This model is priced at £46,685, plus another £675 for the metallic white paint and £995 for the folding towbar.

The car drives well, is quiet and nips along nicely, accelerating from 0–60 mph in 7.6 seconds. The AdBlue tank holds 12 litres and you can option a larger 24-litre tank for an extra £60! Seems odd – who would want a smaller tank? Wheels are low profile, being 19 inches with 245/35 tyres, which are a bit wee for country work, not to mention forest tracks. The car weighs 1,625 kg and has a seven-speed S Tronic gearbox. The fuel tank holds 58 litres and the luggage areas provide 495 litres in the boot with the seats in place and 1,495 litres with them folded down. In my hands, it averaged 41 mpg, but probably nearer 45 mpg would be normal.

When I was driving the car, I thought there was some sort of fault in that when you took your foot off the accelerator and repressed it there was a pause before the power would kick in. On further examination, it appears the engine cuts out to an idle speed when gliding and restarts when you press the accelerator again. It seems far too clever for its own good and certainly takes away from the driving experience. Perhaps this action can be turned off?

Forestry Journal:

So this ICE ( internal combustion engine ) A4 will be the last designed as an ICE car. The next A4 will no doubt also be designed with an electric version, if not electric only. I was pleased to try it out, but disappointed in its looks and drivability. I would certainly be more likely to opt for a Q3 or Q5 if I wanted a small Audi.