Hot on the heels of the new 2009 Audi A4 sedan, when it launches this fall in the U.S., will be the sedan's more practical sibling, the A4 Avant. The traditional wagon version of the tried-and-true A4 sedan, the Avant shares its new styling features and underpinnings with Audi's perennial entry-level premium sedan.

For example, the A4 Avant has grown larger, just as the sedan has done. In fact, Audi says the new A4 Avant is nearly five inches longer than its predecessor, though the Avant's body is said to be 10 percent lighter this time around -- not to mention more rigid. The increase in size is noticeable, but not quite as much as it should be thanks to flat D-posts and a short front overhang, both working to minimize the Avant's size, visually. There are advantages to the A4's larger size however. Audi gives a cargo capacity of an impressive 50.5 cubic inches with the 60/40 split rear seats folded flat, as well as increases in knee, leg, shoulder and headroom. The suspension too, has been completely revised with new aluminum construction and a new design.

The Audi A4 sedan's daytime running lights are carried over intact to the A4 Avant, while the Xenon plus headlights feature 14 white light-emitting diodes -- another borrowed item. Inside the A4 Avant, many features are inspired by Audi's flagship sedan, the A8. The center stack places a navigation screen prominently at its top, and optional leather, aluminum, and wood trim provide for a feeling of quality beyond the A4 Avant's price point. Audi has made a couple technological improvements as well, resulting in a standard climate-control system that's more efficient, yet provides 10 percent more cooling capacity than the outgoing system's. Even the conventional parking brake has been replaced with an electro-mechanical unit.

The 2009 Audi A4 Avant will receive just one engine option at its U.S. launch, a turbocharged four-cylinder unit, details of which have not yet been released. It's the same base-level engine that the 2009 A4 sedan will receive alongside the optional 265-horsepower 3.2-liter FSI V-6. We're expecting that the V-6 will make its way into the U.S.-spec Avant's engine bay at some point in the future, as it will be an option from the get-go for European customers. As for the four-cylinder unit, expect an all-new 2.0T with slightly more than 200 horsepower and an optional six-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission alongside a standard six-speed manual (Audi has confimed that the A4 will not recieve the DSG dual-clutch transmission in either sedan or Avant form). Audi claims 0-to-60-mph times in the 6.3-second range and a top speed of over 155 mph with the V-6 installed.

The new A4 Avant will offer a broad range of options, such as the Audi parking system, Audi Music Interface (AMI), Bluetooth connectivity, air-conditioned seats, three-zone climate control, and a Bang & Olufsen 505-watt, 14-speaker stereo. Three trim levels will be available: Attraction, Ambition, and Ambiente. The S line package is offered additionally, with sportier suspension components and trim items.


Pricing has yet to be announced for the 2009 Audi A4 Avant, set to hit showrooms this fall. We expect the base level A4 Avant will start a few thousand dollars above the sedan version, so look for an MSRP beginning in the low-$30,000 range. We'll have more information about the 2009 Audi A4 Avant live from the 2008 Geneva Motor Show March 5-6, so keep it tuned to Motor Trend Online.