£36,710 - £43,295 Price range
42 - 57 MPG
The latest Audi A4 Allroad estate is the first model to get the firm’s new ‘ultra’ quattro four-wheel drive system, although from launch it’s only available with the petrol engine option.
The A4 Allroad’s rivals are few and far between – jacked up versions of the Mercedes C-Class and BMW 3 Series have yet to be conceived. That leaves cars such as the Volkswagen Passat Alltrack (a little less premium), Subaru Outback (way less premium) and the Skoda Octavia Scout (less well equipped… and less premium).
Telling the Allroad apart from a regular A4 Avant shouldn’t be that difficult – its suspension is raised by 34mm, it gets a unique framed grille and roof rails. Less obvious is the underbody cladding that protects the floor from bumps and scrapes should you venture off-road. Few will.
Jump inside and the changes are less obvious – the only difference being the Off-road setting on the car’s Drive Select. Of course, the standard A4’s dashboard is smarter and more minimalist than in a BMW 3 Series and a good deal less ‘grandad’ than the Mercedes C-Class can be in some trim levels.
Engines, predictably, are also good. The 2.0-litre petrol is spritely, while the 3.0-diesel offers substantial midrange thump for overtaking, but it’s the 2.0-litre diesel that we would choose. It is the cheapest to run of the lot, is quiet and feels plenty quick enough in the real world.
Standard equipment includes 17-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlights and three-zone climate control, but sat-nav is on the options list.
Time and time again Audi nails interior quality in a way that few can match and the A4 is the perfect example of this.
A huge infotainment screen means secondary controls can be found via crisp-coloured menus, while systems you’ll want to operate on the move – the ventilation, stereo, phone connection; things like that – use conventional knobs and buttons so you know exactly where to find them.
Then there’s the quality. Metallic trims look, feel and may even be actual metals, leathers seem robust and you’ll have to search long and hard to find plastics that aren’t of a squidgy, high-quality disposition.
There’s space for four tall adults to sit in comfort and the three-zone climate control means even people in the back can set the power and temperature of their blower.
Boot space is unaffected by the clever 4×4 gubbins hidden under the floor – at 505 litres it matches the capacity of a front-wheel-drive A4 Avant.
While the raised suspension might be sold as an aid to light off-roading, it’s the more comfortable ride it offers that’ll be of more interest to most people. It’s not perfect – feeling a little choppy on A roads and getting caught out by the occasional large bump in town, but on the whole it is pretty good.
There’s a little more lean in corners than normal A4 owners will be used to and the Allroad can also float over crests, but pushing on reveals grippy and predictable handling, while the four-wheel-drive system calmly powers out of bends no matter how keen you are with the accelerator.
Choose Comfort in the car’s Drive Select system and the steering’s perfectly set up for the city, but too light for giving it the beans through a series of quick curves. Selecting Dynamic sorts that by adding a decent amount of weight, yet no matter which of the five modes you choose the steering’s resistance can feel inconsistent and judging front tyre grip is tricky.
Okay, so the Allraod may not be the most engaging car to drive – hugely accomplished as it is – but out on the motorway it’s pretty much faultless. We drove the car on a de-limited German autobahn at speeds of more than 100mph and interior refinement was nothing short of excellent. In part that was down to the (£450) laminated side windows fitted to test cars. Praise must also be heaped on the 2.0-litre diesel engine, which is noticeably quieter than similar units from BMW and Mercedes.
You get three gearboxes to choose from – a slick manual six-speed, a quick-shifting DSG seven-speed automatic or a conventional auto eight-speed that’s relaxed nature suits the lazy torque of 3.0-litre diesel it’s fitted to as standard.
Choosing an Allroad means limiting your engine choice to just three, but they cover a decent breadth of abilities. The 2.0-litre petrol is the sporty choice, while the 2.0-litre diesel is a great all-rounder, leaving the 3.0-litre diesel to provide stonking performance without huge running costs.
Audi A4 Allroad petrol engine
Its comparatively high-revving nature makes the 249hp 2.0 TFSI Allroad the enthusiast’s choice and – helped by the quick-shifts of the dual-clutch automatic gearbox – it can shoot from 0-62mph in 6.1 seconds. Trouble is, the linear power delivery and subdued noise levels ensure that it isn’t that engaging and somehow doesn’t seem that quick. But few will care when it can return fuel economy of 44.1mpg and costs £145 per year to tax.
Audi A4 Allroad diesel engines
In the real world the 2.0-litre diesel feels every bit as quick – if not quicker – than the petrol model. Fitted with the DSG automatic we drove it gets from 0-62mph in 7.8 seconds and the healthy 295Ib ft of torque available from 1,750rpm means it has power in reserve for overtaking. Economy is pretty impressive for a four-wheel drive – it can return 57.6mpg and CO2 emissions of 132g/km mean road tax costs £130.
Top of the range is the 3.0-litre diesel with 215 or 268hp. The latter has lots of power even at speeds well above the UK’s legal limit, thanks to a massive torque figure of 443Ib ft. Nevertheless 55.4mpg fuel economy is pretty decent and it costs £185 to tax.
Audi’s jacked up estate can be had in two trim levels – plain old Allroad and Allroad Sport. The test cars we drove came with a generous number of options, likely to be one of the most popular is the £450 Virtual Cockpit 12.3-inch digital display that replaces conventional instruments. Also worth considering are the £900 adaptive dampers that transform the suspension from quite hard to quite soft at the touch of a button.
Audi A4 Allroad
Even if you’re one of a rare breed of Audi owners who doesn’t visit the options list, standard kit includes xenon headlights, 17-inch alloy wheels, three-zone climate control, an electrically operated boot lid and a DAB digital radio. The only glaring omission is sat-nav, which will set you back a further £550.
Audi A4 Allroad Sport
Sport models get the sat-nav as standard, have a more powerful 10-speaker stereo and front sports seats. On the outside they look niftier thanks to their 18-inch alloy wheels and all-LED headlights.
Given that a basic A4 Allroad costs just £1,150 more than a regular A4 Avant quattro SE, you can see how many people would be sold on the Allroad’s unique looks and comfy ride. It’ll also tackle light off-roading better than the regular car, however irrelevant this may be, and would be an ideal tow car.
Exclusivity could well be the biggest draw, though, Audi says the Allroad will account for just eight per cent of total Avant sales with 1,000 cars expected to find new homes per year.