People buy wagons for a lot of reasons. The main attraction has to be the utility. Like other areas of the A4, Audi paid attention in the utility department too.
First of all, there are plenty of little places to squirrel stuff away. The glove compartment is huge, the arm rest doubles as storage, and there is a little drawer under the seats. The door pockets are pitifully small, though. Seriously, what can you fit in here? Our guess is maybe a McDonald?s receipt and a tin of Altoids!
Or you could just throw all your goodies in the back. Even the opening to the hatch is adorned with beautiful aluminum trim. Its touches like this, the above and beyond, that make this such a joyful vehicle. Anyway, Audi?s provided a set of tie down loops, which the elastic net attaches to. You could put a carton of eggs under that net and feel secure enough to scramble your way up Pikes Peak without worry about your Eggland?s Best becoming Scramblers.
The thoughtful touches continue when you fold down the seats. The typical P.I.T.A cargo cover stays attached to the seats, and offers a protective screen to keep your IKEA bookcase from becoming an unwanted front seat passenger. In the car?s manual, there are a variety of different tie down solutions as well, beyond the simple elastic cargo net. And under the cargo floor is a fantastic surprise! A full size spare, but not just a spare, a real, honest-to-goodness spare wheel and tire like the ones on the outside. No more embarrassing space saver for your sleek German sport wagon.
Manufacturers seem to be more and more interested in filling our cars with lots of technological headaches. Audi, on the other hand, has managed to place a well-thought out, actually useful suite of applications into their MMI system. MMI stands for Multimedia Interface, and it?s deceptively simple.
First, you have a series of function buttons that place the system into different modes. There is the typical navigation, radio, and CD choices, plus two other features that we?ll mention later. In each mode, the large wheel button on the right does the selection, and in most cases the wheel on the steering does the same thing. For instance, if the radio is on FM, the system will have a list of tunable stations already up for your perusal. Spin the knob on the radio and push with a click to select. The same can be done on the steering wheel control. And every click of every button in the cockpit clicks with the same pressure and gives the same audible response. Is that brilliant or what? Anyway, back to MMI. Each function has several, sub-functions, and those sub-functions are brought up by pressing on of the four quadrant buttons. Ah, that?s just too easy, huh?
Now, besides having a DVD navigation system, which has a pretty decent directory, the Audi has a surprise behind its monitor. Not just one, but two SD/MMC memory card slots for playing MP3 music files. This is some kind of techno-geeks dream car. Files on the SD card can be brought up under the CD/SD function button.
Not only does the A4 offer these SD slots, but it?s also fitted with Bluetooth. If your phone has Bluetooth, you can pair it with the Audi?s navigation system. Turn your phone on, browse for local Bluetooth devices, enter the passkey and you?re on your way. You can then place the call a number of ways; we had the most luck when we put the navigation system into ?Tel? mode. When you press the command button on the steering wheel, the system turns down the ventilation system and the radio, beeps and, if you don?t response with your verbal commands, will give you a list of voice commands to use. It?s surprisingly accurate. The system will also bring up your phone?s address book and allow you to choose contacts in the multifunction display in the instrument cluster.
Overall, the features included with the A4 are all usable and helpful tools to ease the business of traveling. The Avant has all the utility of a wagon with an extra touch of class and thoughtful enhancements. It?s a five-star wagon. The more technologically advanced solutions that Audi has added will be a welcome addition to the techno-savvy without totally alienating those who are not interested in gadgets.