Fleet News

Audi A4 Avant 2.0 FSI Sport

Audi

Review

CARS are packed with all sorts of technology to make them stop and go better these days – ABS, ESP, BBC, KFC and so on.

But in most cases, there is still a spindly little stick that you have to yank on to stop the car rolling down a hill when you park – the handbrake for the more technical among you.

This has been about almost as long as the wheel, so it raises the question why some manufacturers are so bad at them. True, they all work, but take our long-term Audi.

Pull on the handbrake and it becomes the 'handbreak' as you smack the top of your left hand on the bottom of the centre armrest.

You can't actually apply the 'handbreak' without, well, breaking your hand, or angrily shoving the armrest out of the way. Normally, both these things happen.

Audi is not alone, as some manufacturers have copied this style, or made them awkward to get to, or placed them on the wrong side of the transmission tunnel and so on.

The Audi has now hit 8,230 miles and I love it, but I still get caught out almost every day by this.

Surely, if I can climb into a Ford Focus C-MAX and apply an electronic parking brake that deals with the problem instantly, I should be able to do the same in Germany's finest?

The rising mileage has also revealed some of the most pleasant aspects of the Audi, including very good economy, currently 36mpg, but rising to about 40mpg on the daily commute.

I feel I could do with more power from the 2.0-litre FSI engine at times, particularly lower down the rev range, as some enthusiastic stirring of the gearstick is needed to get up to speed when overtaking or pulling into traffic, especially under 3,000rpm.

However, its relatively sedate progress up to the red line isn't accompanied by any real harshness or vibration, so you just need to remember to keep the engine speed up if you need access to more power.

The interior is standing up to the occasional pounding from toddlers' feet during regular trips too. I only hope I can pick them up after a long journey once I have put on the 'handbreak'.

Company car tax bill 2004/05 (40% tax-payer): £148 per month

Figures based on three-years/60,000-miles

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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