2009 Audi A4 Avant: More Fun than the Camaro?
July 24, 2009
I only make this comparison because I happened to drive our long-term Audi A4 Avant on back-to-back days on the exact same driving loop as a 2010 Camaro SS. Obviously, no one's going to be cross shopping these two. I make it because it illustrates the difference between what I see as two automotive schools of preference.
The Camaro SS is a wild ride -- a V8-powered, testosterone-pumping, all-American extravaganza with "hey look at me!" styling. It can do that --->>. I can understand why people are lining out the doors to get one even in this crap economy. But on my favorite mountain road, the Camaro was more frustrating than rewarding. The visibility can best be described as "exotic," and with its wide, squared-off hood, the car is difficult to place into a corner. I kept feeling like I was going to smash into shrubs and trash cans mid-corner. If only Topanga Canyon Road was 50 percent wider. In general, the handling is commendable for a muscle car, but hardly what I'd call sharp. Even if it was though, much would be sullied by a steering wheel seemingly shaped not for human hands, but whatever that manbearpig thing is on True Blood .
The A4 on the other hand, is quick, nimble and responsive. I was blown away by how fun our little wagon could be, and especially the steering, which I had written off because of its bizarre, random-assist effort at low speeds. What the A4 lacks in the way of 215 extra horsepower compared to the Camaro (holy crap that thing is powerful), it made up for in this environment with athleticism and agility. If this was Mariokart, I might've been able to keep up with my Camaro "ghost" from the day before.
It comes down to this is. Are you the sledge hammer sort or a knife-wielding carver? Do you enjoy being embedded into your seat back, or hugged by the side bolsters? This isn't about A4 vs Camaro -- that's ridiculous. It's about what you define as driving fun. For me, I'd take quick and nimble over brute force showmanship any day. Of course, if I could combine those two, even better.
James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 16,009 miles