If you’re after a classy, well-made and practical estate car, you could do much worse than a car from the Volkswagen Group stable. The Audi A4 Avant is a firm favourite with motorists who value a premium cabin and a refined driving experience but how does it compare to the Volkswagen Passat Estate – another impressive machine that shares some technology and engines with the Audi.
If you’ve made your mind up, use our Audi A4 Avant deals page or Volkswagen Passat Estate deals page to find the best offers on either car. Alternatively, check out our list of best estate cars for more great options.
Audi A4 Avant vs Volkswagen Passat Estate – styling
Audi’s followed an evolutionary approach for the A4’s styling – all the hallmarks of Audi’s modern design language are present, including distinctive LED running lights and a large hexagonal grille. It’s a good looking car, and the design comes across as fresh without being overly stylised…so it should still look good in years to come.
The Passat was launched around the same time and shares the Audi’s conservative attitude to styling. Its front-end is more subtle than the Audi’s but the Passat’s svelte rear and more utilitarian image give it a good helping of extra appeal over and above the saloon model. We’d expect the Volkswagen to date just as well as the Audi down the line.
Audi A4 Avant vs Volkswagen Passat Estate – interior
Audi has a well-deserved reputation for producing beautiful interiors and the A4 Avant doesn’t disappoint. The cabin features plenty of soft-touch plastics and a design that puts many pricier cars to shame. Highlights include the latest version of Audi’s MMI system, with an infotainment screen mounted above the air vents and the impressive optional Virtual Cockpit Display which does away with traditional dials in favour of a huge LCD screen.
The Passat doesn’t come across as the poor relation, however. It might do without a few of the snazzier details of its Audi cousin, but very few buyers would complain about the standard of accommodation that the Passat Estate offers. Volkswagen even has its own version of the Virtual Cockpit Display, and there’s an analogue clock on the dashboard to give the car an extra dose of class.
In terms of boot space, the Audi offers a respectable 505 litres with all seats upright – a number that increases to 1,510-litres when you fold the rear seats. The Volkswagen’s larger external dimensions mean it can has a 650-litre boot that can be expanded to a 1,780-litre total. Either car should be able to satisfy most owner’s needs, with four adults able to sit in excellent comfort or five at a push.
Audi A4 Avant vs Volkswagen Passat Estate – driving
The A4 is based on Audi’s new MLB platform giving it an excellent balance between a comfy ride and reassuring handling. It might not be as sporty as a BMW 3 Series or Jaguar XE, but it makes up for it by feeling exceptionally stable on the road and having light, intuitive controls. Refinement is pretty much flawless and the ride can be softened further with the optional adaptive ride control if you’re willing to pay £600.
The Passat is based on a stretched version of the Golf’s MQB platform but generally handles similarly to the A4 with more of an emphasis on comfort and control than outright sportiness. The Passat lacks a little of its rival’s spark here – its steering feels lazier and it doesn’t resist body roll as well. However, that probably won’t be a pressing issue for most owners – its natural habitat is the motorway where it excels in refinement and stability.
Audi A4 Avant vs Volkswagen Passat Estate – engines
Both cars benefit from a comprehensive lineup of engines – some of which are shared between them. The A4 gets petrol choices ranging from 1.4 to 2.0-litres in displacement and have between 147 and 248hp. Most interesting is Audi’s latest 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol unit that, thanks to some clever tech, burns fuel in a similar manner to a Toyota Prius – the result is a remarkable 187hp with 53mpg average fuel economy.
Diesel choices are even more comprehensive and expected to be the best sellers. The popular 2.0-litre engine is available in four flavours – with either 147 or 188hp and with or without Audi’s ‘ultra’ technology that lowers CO2 emissions. Additionally, two 3.0-litre V6 diesel engines are offered, with either 215 or 268hp – the latter getting quattro all-wheel drive as standard. The diesels take between 9.2 and 5.4 seconds to get from 0-62mph.
The Passat Estate gets diesels of either 1.6 or 2.0-litre displacement and no petrol option. The smaller engine has 118hp and can be had with either a six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox but its grumbly nature doesn’t suit the car’s relaxed persona. The larger 2.0-litre engine is the same as the one in the A4 with either 147 or 188hp and its increased refinement makes it the pick of the range. There’s also a ‘BiTDI’ version that has 237hp and can reach 62mph from rest in just 6.3 seconds.
Audi A4 Avant vs Volkswagen Passat Estate – value for money
The Audi A4 Avant is priced from £27,300 for the basic 1.4-litre petrol model in SE trim – it comes pretty well equipped but most buyers will choose to step up to either Sport trim for around £1,000, or spend roughly another £1,500 on S-Line models. Diesel models are priced from £30,550, increasing around £900 for the more powerful engine and a further £1,500 for the automatic gearbox. The most expensive A4 Avant is the 3.0-litre 268hp quattro costing £40,995. Beware the options list, however, because it’s both long and expensive.
The cheapest Volkswagen Passat Estate will cost you £24,200 for the 1.6-litre diesel in S trim – costing around £800 to upgrade to plusher SE trim, £1,600 for an automatic gearbox and £1,100 to upgrade to the recommended 2.0-litre engine. The most expensive version is the 2.0 BiTDI 4Motion in R-Line trim that costs an eye-watering £37,515.
In terms of running costs, it’s the Volkswagen that just comes out on top thanks to its solely diesel line-up of engines – the most frugal of which can achieve an incredible 76.3mpg. The Audi’s petrol engines let it down a little, with the thirstiest only able to get 44.8 miles from every gallon of fuel. The diesels can return up to 70.6mpg, and even the most powerful 3.0-litre V6 TDI posts returns of 53.3mpg.
Audi A4 Avant vs Volkswagen Passat Estate – verdict
Although these two models look similar on paper, there’s actually a noticeable difference that’s likely to resonate among buyers. The Volkswagen Passat Estate is a capacious and well-built estate that should be cheap to run and still look smart on the driveway, but it’s at its best in cheaper guises feeling a step up from the Ford Mondeo and Mazda 6.
The Audi A4 Avant might not be the most exciting compact executive estate out there but it’s unquestionably more desirable than the Volkswagen. It swaps a little practicality and fuel economy for an even more impressive cabin and driving experience. If sensibly optioned, it should work out as not much more expensive than its rival to both buy and run.
Save money on your new estate car
Check out our Audi A4 Avant deals page to see how much carwow could help you save or, if the Passat takes your fancy, check out our Volkswagen Passat Estate deals page. For more options, head over to our car chooser to narrow down your search or see our car deals page for our latest discounts.