AN ALL-NEW VERSION OF AUDI’S A4 ALLROAD QUATTRO HAS JUST HIT THESE SHORES, AND WE WERE THERE TO DRIVE IT. TYPICALLY AUDI, ITS ELEGANT SPORTING SOUL APPARENT, THIS IS A PERSUASIVE GERMAN WAGON.
Launching as a “give it a shot and see how it goes” limited edition model in 2012, the Allroad version of the slick Audi A4 Avant (wagon) surprised even Audi Australia’s Product Planning team and was an instant hit with local buyers.
So, in football terms, the high-riding A4 wagon quickly joined the ‘run-on’ side and each year from 2013 has almost equalled the sales of the standard model (183 to 218 last year).
While Australian sales for parent company Volkswagen are down (perhaps still suffering a hangover from the ongoing ‘dieselgate’ mess), Audi – as usual – is powering-on, and sales are up 7.6 percent on the same period last year.
We are now the 11th-largest international market for Audi, and Audi Australia is certainly punching above its weight. This earned significant recognition for local Managing Director Andrew Doyle and his team when Audi’s global board flew to Hamilton Island for its regular meeting, coinciding with Audi Hamilton Island (yacht) Race Week.
Vehicle Style: Prestige medium wagon
Price: $71,400 - $74,400
Engine/trans: 185kW370Nm 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo petrol, 140kW/400Nm 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo diesel 7sp automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 6.7 l/100kms (2.0 TFSI). 5.2 l/100kms (diesel) | Tested: 7.9 l/100kms (2.0 TFSI)
Yes, the Audi A4 Allroad quattro is a ‘crossover’ - it has an additional 34mm of ground clearance than the regular A4 Avant but rides 37mm lower than the 200mm ride height of the Q5 SUV.
Following the trend of its predecessors, the latest Audi A4 Allroad quattro looks tougher with that raised ride height supplemented by matte black (or optional body-colour) plastic wheel-arch protectors and lower spoilers. It also picks up visible silver-coloured under-body skid plates, a unique front bumper and air intakes.
Naturally in the ‘off-road’ Drive Select mode, Audi’s quattro AWD system provides some degree of agility away from sealed roads. But don’t follow the lead of the chap who made news this week by trying to drive his mate’s Mercedes- Benz GLA 250 through the soft sand to the edge of the surf at Sydney’s Dee Why beach.
The Audi A4 Allroad quattro, like the ‘Benz (that had to be dug out), isn’t quite up to that sort of track.
When the 2.0 TDI model (from $71,400 plus on-road charges) arrives in November it will feature the regular Audi quattro system with a mechanical centre differential, but the Audi A4 Allroad quattro 2.0 TFSI (from $74,400 plus on-road charges) debuts a new version of quattro called ‘quattro with ultra technology’.
While the regular quattro system we’ve loved over the years sends 60 percent of drive to the rear wheels under normal conditions, ‘quattro with ultra technology’ uses clutch packs at either end of the tailshaft to operate in fuel-saving front-wheel-drive most of the time (‘Efficiency’, ‘Comfort’ or ‘Auto’ modes in Audi’s Drive Select system).
However up to 100 percent of drive can be switched to the rear in ‘Offroad’, ‘Dynamic’ or ‘Individual’ drive modes.
Audi says its new quattro system is lighter than its predecessors and delivers fuel consumption savings for the 2.0 TFSI model in the region of 0.3l/100kms, and, overall, the all-new Audi A4 Allroad quattro is 80kgs lighter than the superseded model.
As usual with Audi, a massive range of optional features - which in paper form would resemble the Federal Election Senate ballot paper - includes some clever technology for driving/safety and infotainment.
For example with the optional 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen Sound System - yours for an extra $1,500 - Audi is claiming a first-in-class for the 3D sound.
- Standard features: Leather-trimmed seats, electric adjustment for driver (including memory function and lumbar support) and front-seat passenger, leather-wrapped steering wheel, three-zone climate-control air-conditioning, aluminium trim highlights, footwell lighting front/rear, floor mats front/rear extendable luggage net, rear door window sunblinds
- Infotainment: 10-speaker audio with 8.3-inch colour screen, satellite navigation and Audi Connect Wi-Fi with Google Services, CD/DVD, Aux-in, 2 SDXC card readers, 10GB flash memory
- Cargo Volume: 505-litres (rear seat in-place); 1,510-litres (rear seat folded)
The A4 Allroad Quattro runs the same sporty/luxury interior as the regular A4 Avant – that means contemporary German elegance of the highest order.
Naturally there are gorgeous leather seats (heating/ventilation for the fronts is a $2,000 option), aluminium highlights and the usual top-notch leather-wrapped steering wheel.
The excellent Audi ‘virtual cockpit’ with its digital configurable instrument cluster using a 12.3–inch high-res colour display and including a head-up display is listed as a $2,200 ‘Technik Package’…one which we’d recommend.
There’s reasonable legroom for those in the rear and, for load-carrying versatility, the seat split folds 40/20/40. Rear seat entertainment is an option ($2,000 with one 10.1-inch integrated and removable tablet or $3,600 with two).
Impressive cargo space too (our test car was fitted with the $350 optional load area rail system). A powered tailgate is standard and there is an optional ‘soccer-kick’ function for remote opening.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 185kW/370Nm turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol | 140kW/400Nm turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel
- Transmission: Seven-speed Steptronic dual-clutch automatic
- Suspension: Independent five-link front/ independent five-link rear
- Brakes: Four-wheel discs
Audi’s drive route for the A4 Allroad quattro national media launch sent us from Port Douglas west over an extensive range of variable dirt road to Mount Molloy, then back to Cairns via Kuranda and down to the coast.
Driving the 2.0 TFSI (no diesels until November), even in front-drive the A4 Allroad quattro made easy work of most of the dirt tracks with just a little front-end judder when squirting the throttle hard in corners.
Switching to all-wheel-drive is imperceptible (there’s no ‘clunk’ from the driveline or ‘gong’ in the dashboard) but you immediately notice revised dynamics - the Audi A4 Allroad quattro is more inclined to tuck its nose in when entering a corner, maintain its line when the power is applied mid-turn, and, of course, traction is superior.
If you happen to find deeper ruts, as we did following recent rain, you will notice some suspension harshness. But these were rought tracks and speeds were higher than most owners would contemplate. At the end of the day, the A4 Allroad quattro is a versatile sporting wagon, not a Q5 SUV.
On sealed roads, naturally the A4 Allroad quattro exhibited all that is great with the German superbrand.
As always, we really warm to the responsive the 2.0 FSI engine (as well as its cracking exhaust note when the throttle pedal is crushed) and the rapid-fire shifting of the seven-speed Steptronic auto. And, while caught briefly in a stop-start crawl, noticed the dual-clutch auto is smoother than previous generations (which were criticised for being a tad clunky in that on-off throttle traffic scenario).
In the twisty stuff, the Allroad quattro is a smidge less direct in its responses than the standard Audi A4 Avant, but we’re talking a raised ride height and higher aspect ratio tyres here. Cornering performance is nevertheless flat and sporty and tyre noise impressively low.
In on-road driving it’s impossible to say the dynamics of ‘quattro with ultra technology’ is markedly different to the regular quattro system (maybe a race circuit may detect more understeer but…?).
The car we drove rode on 18-inch alloy wheels (19-inch a $1,154 option) and was fitted with the standard steel springs (adaptive suspension a $1700 option).
ANCAP Rating: 5-Stars
Safety Features: Active bonnet, eight airbags, autonomous emergency braking, anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control, Audi pre-sense rear (hazard lights automatically flash when barking hard).
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years/unlimited kilometres
Servicing: Every 15,000kms or 12 months (whichever comes first)
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
A conceptually similar high-riding Mercedes-Benz E-Class wagon is expected next year and will be the most direct rival for the Audi A4 Allroad Quattro.
But, for the moment, downscale rivals come mostly from the Volkswagen Group stable.
That would be the Volkswagen Passat Alltrack (2.0 TDI engine only) which is priced at $49,290 (plus on-road charges) and the Skoda Superb wagon in 4x4 guise (turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine only) stickered at $50,990 plus on-road charges.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
At $74,400, the Audi A4 Allroad Quattro is only $1500 more than the Avant Quattro Sport. Not unreasonable, we’d say, while noting they appeal in different ways.
You won't be taking the Allroad to Queensland’s Channel Country (nor onto the sands of Sydney’s Dee Why beach), off-road trails are beyond the A4 Allroad Quattro’s off-road limits.
But it will take in its stride those dirt roads to your weekender or the slippery roads to the snow.
And that cuts to the chase really – on a Monday morning you can drive your covered-in-mud Audi A4 Allroad Quattro into the office carpark, pull-up alongside those shiny BMW 3 Series wagons or Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estates and say to your colleagues: “So, do much over the weekend?”
We get that… and we like the Audi A4 Allroad Quattro a lot.