"Seriously, can't you just leave the A4 here another week?" Hold on folks, I'm practicing what to say to the fleet guy when he comes to take my Audi away. While the A4 isn't perfect, it is pretty darn close when it comes to this segment. I still have to drive the new BMW 3 Series, but as of now the A4 doesn't do much wrong.

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Sure the $37,000 price tag seems a bit high for a small wagon, but at the same time I don?t see the need for more room. I was able to haul absolutely everything I needed over the week from a large dog cage to runs from Home Depot and Costco. It?s great on the highway, fun to drive around town, has an ergonomically laid out interior and is impressive in almost all areas.

The only gripes to last for the entire week are the poorly designed center armrest and that pesky sticker price. But I could do without the $1,425 lighting package. I guess this is the price you pay for German station wagons these days. Although the base price of an AWD 3-Series wagon is higher than the A4. Huh. The Volvo AWD V50 is a tad less than the Audi. So it turns out the Avant is very competitive.

Audi A4 ShifterDriving the six-speed manual was easy in almost every way. The clutch is a tad springy and you must shift before over-revving or suffer a serious shudder. The turbo rewards you on the low end of the rev meter and doesn?t allow for missing your shift window. That?s not a real problem because the transmission is such a joy that you?ll have the precise moves down in no time and feel like a pro. Getting the most out of the turbo is the real trick and once you figure that out the little wagon will surprise a lot of folks on the road. If an RS version ever comes I couldn?t imagine how fast it will be. The 2.0 turbo feels very quick and everyday drivers will probably find it more than adequate.

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As for the looks, they?ve grown on me tremendously since I first saw this new snub nose months ago. Audi?s version is much more attractive than VW?s, but in the U.S. front license plates will ruin its aggressive posture. The nose actually gives it a more classic look than before, like a modern interpretation of what Chrysler was going for on the 300. The back taillights aren?t as striking as I?d like, and they have a weird ?talon? effect, much like the front headlights. But without the grill, the rear lights just kind of hang over a blank rear hatch. Overall, the design is striking in person and even manly for a wagon. Add the invigorating drive and you?ve got a winner.

Check out Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3 in the Audi A4 Avant

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