allroad 3.0 TDI quattro S tronic
latest niche estate
appropriately-named A4 allroad
blends fashionable on/off-road
four-wheel drive ability and time-
honoured estate practicality with
premium looks and the marques
AT REST, Audi's A4 allroad looks much like any premium estate… and then
you register the details: pronounced black wheel arch extensions, higher-riding
stance and, from the front especially if it's coming up
fast in your rear view mirror wide-tracked with a deep-grille
and pronounced stainless-steel under-body guard clearly visible beneath the
bumper; round at the tail, there's more clearly visible stainless-steel
underbody protection and a large-bore tailpipe at each corner.
This is not your everyday A4 Avant but something significantly meatier; and
much more rugged. It's Audi's compact all-wheel-drive, all-terrain version of
the Avant estate and it's been given the 'allroad' treatment by raising
the ride height and adding some tough 'all-terrain' body protection. And some
clever hi-tech systems that make it able to handle off-road excursions in addition
to providing polished executive transport on any road.
The toughened-up A4 allroad quattro is larger than the A4 Avant, measuring 15.5
feet in length and a smidgen over six foot in width. It's also taller than the
Avant at close to five feet and has more ground clearance: 180
millimetres (just over seven inches).
Audi's legendary quattro permanent all-wheel drive system is standard and has
been engineered with a front:rear torque split biased towards the rear for handling
with a 'sporty' flavour. In normal driving conditions 60% goes to the rear wheels
but to maximise traction and stability in tricky conditions, 65% can be sent
to the front axle or 85% to the rear. More importantly, the A4 allroad quattro
has a fresh-out-of-the-box piece of new hi-tech to help out over rough terrain:
called 'Offroad Detection', it identifies the type of driving surface then adjusts
the control parameters of the on-board Electronic Stability Programme to suit.
not a SUV like its cousin the Q5, the allroad's elevated ride height helps it
make a pretty good fist of off-roading. There's enough grip and traction to
tackle quite challenging descents and climbs and it's all made easier by the
practical approach and departure angles. Yes, a full-blown SUV would do better
but then it couldn't come close to performing on road anywhere near as well
as the allroad. That noted, the allroad is more than likely all the off-road
machine most owners will ever need. Still, it's nice to know that if you do
go down to the woods to play then the allroad will take all it in its all-wheel
the allroad may be, but that doesn't prevent it offering the prestige German
brand's characteristic refinement during day-to-day motoring, whether that includes
commuting or off the beaten track sports and leisure activities. The cabin is
smart looking and high in quality with first-rate ergonomics and is a real joy
to travel in.
switchgear that Audi
has made into
an art form...
it's essentially an A4 Avant interior, you notice the difference the moment
you get behind the multi-function steering wheel: for a start, the view down
the road is commanding. And, as you'd expect to find in an Audi, there's the
foolproof and ultra-user-friendly MMI multimedia control system with a first
class SatNav system and, admittedly optional but for a very reasonable
£515 an excellent Bang & Olufsen sound system.
The dials are superb, with ultra-thin satin chrome bezels and analogue and digital
readouts including those on the driver information screen between the
rev-counter and the 180mph speedometer are all crystal clear. Particularly
useful, and equally as good as the latest head-up displays, is the large digital
'current speed' figure than can be called up from the driver information menu.
Also deserving of a mention is the beautifully crafted switchgear that Audi
has made into an art form.
The electronic handbrake is simple to use (those on some other makes can be
confusing); you can drive away and it will automatically release so long as
you're wearing your seatbelt and you can also set it to apply itself automatically
every time you stop the car. Centre front armrests are something of a bugbear
in cars; some are too high and too far forward, they can catch your elbow when
steering, make belting up awkward and have to be moved every time the handbrake
is used. The allroad's does none of this and is perfectly sited for both the
driver and the front passenger.
Other hi-tech kit on our test car included tyre pressure monitoring, adaptive
Xenon headlights and Audi's Side Assist (it uses sensors to warn of vehicles
approaching in mirror blind spots, making it safer to change lanes, and the
four orange LEDs on the mirror housing warn you without making you jump
one non-Audi car with this fitted we tested sounds a shrill 'beep' that could
startle rather than alert the driver). The Adaptive Cruise Control is radar-assisted,
detecting vehicles ahead and maintaining the proper following distance by accelerating
and braking automatically.
A4 allroad quattro comes in just one specification level and so standard equipment
is high and includes taken-for-granted items such as power windows and door
mirrors, automatic headlight and wiper operation and auto-dim rear view mirror
as well as three-zone electronic climate control, 10-speaker Audi Concert CD
system, full-colour Driver Information System, striking 18-inch 10-spoke alloy
wheels with allroad-specific tyres, special Tundra cloth upholstery and a storage
pack including additional nets and compartments.
in any gear
and power delivery is
travelling in the back do so in real comfort. The two outer seats are shaped
just like the front seats and legroom is generous with very good foot- and knee-room
even for near six-footers. A large centre armrest houses a pair of pop-out cup-holders
and there are practical rear door pockets plus dedicated air vents with temperature
control. If you prefer some privacy or just want to block out the sun streaming
through your window, both rear doors have built-in mesh blinds. There's also
a privacy rear roller-blind.
A4 allroad is also more than accommodating when asked to play its 'estate' role:
the boot has a generous 490-litre capacity but drop the split/folding rear seatbacks
and you have a 1,430-litre load bay. Nice touches abound: for instance, the
load-area roller cover can retract horizontally or, unusually, upwards (in a
track inside the tailgate pillars) for easy loading. You'll also find a large
And the reversible mat covering the boot/load bay floor is also, like the allroad
itself, dual purpose: flip it over and the rubberised underside is dirt- and
water-resistant and perfect for mud-caked hiking boots and the like. There's
also a flip over bumper protector. Other standard boot gear includes a load
area rail system and fixing kit for securing bulky loads using a telescopic
bar and securing belt.
Pop the bonnet and you'll find a turbocharged, six-cylinder 3.0-litre diesel
unit installed in the allroad's engine bay. And it's a real goer, kicking out
237bhp that gets it to 62mph in an enjoyably eager 6.4 seconds. Tractable too,
thanks to the whopping 369lb ft of torque from just 1,500rpm. And it's down
to this that the A4 allroad, which weighs in at 1,765kg, feels genuinely quick
in any gear power delivery is satisfyingly flexible even from idle and
on well into the mid-range.
Prod the accelerator pedal and the V6 sings with a deep baritone growl; yet
on lighter throttle openings it is close to hushed and commendably smooth. And
while flat out it's good for 147mph, it can be an unexpectedly light drinker:
the official 46.3mpg touring consumption (or, as they like to call it these
days, extra-urban) is pretty good. Our overall test average came in at 37.2mpg;
close enough to Audi's 39.8mpg combined figure to validate the achievable 46mpg
seven-speed dual-clutch S tronic automatic transmission is a perfect partner
for the torquey V6 TDI. Changes are especially smooth and gears swapped fluently
and uber-quickly in just one fifth of a second, if you really want to
know. Gear shifts can be made manually using the gear lever or with your fingertips
using the paddle-shifters on the steering wheel whenever it suits or the need
arises. For instance, in day-to-day driving it's particularly useful on dual
carriageways when slowing down for roundabouts or to spurt safely past a slower-moving
palpable: you can
actually sense it through
the drivers seat...
the other hand, you can leave the S tronic to do it all for you which takes
all the stress right out of driving on today's congested roads. For the press-on
enthusiast there's sharper shifting to be had in Dynamic mode with an added
benefit you get authentic throttle 'blips' coming down the ratios and
satisfying exhaust barks going up them. Double-declutching was never so easy!
real eye-opener, though, is not the allroad's ability off the beaten track but
its ride quality. Even more of a surprise given that the alloys are 18-inchers.
Surprisingly, the elevated ride height works to the allroad's advantage and
our test car rode with far better comfort, composure and fluency than 'ordinary'
A4s we've driven (not that any of the others have been bad; just that the allroad
is so good). Unlike the next-size-up, air-sprung A6 allroad, the A4 makes excellent
use of its conventional steel springs. But whereas the A6 uses its air springs
to provide a variable ride height for differing conditions, the A4 allroad's
ride height is fixed. Not that that's a problem.
On road the A4 allroad is an extremely capable car to drive. And its character
is improved by the optional Drive Select system that enables drivers to fine-tune
the allroad's dynamic characteristics steering behaviour, suspension
settings, throttle response and transmission shift points to best suit
prevailing road conditions or personal preferences via dashboard-mounted controls.
Drive Select is paired with Dynamic Steering, which varies the steering ratio
in a continuously variable manner according to speed. Our test allroad had both
these systems fitted (a total of £980), enabling us to switch between Comfort,
Auto and Dynamic modes for both the suspension and the steering. Keen drivers
will enjoy mixing and matching them and setting up their own customised 'individual'
All three modes have their own appeal but unless you're on a mission it's hard
to beat the system: leave it in Auto or Comfort and enjoy the ride. Damping
is determined enough to keep body movements well contained and the steering
always feels precise; even set to Comfort it's never too light. In short, the
allroad's a very agreeable and utterly reassuring car to pilot in the snow as
much as in the sunshine on all roads, in fact, and in all weather.
on that note, it's worth mentioning the spot-on driving position and A1 visibility.
Adding to the allroad's fluent driveability are top-notch brakes (powerful and
progressive) and its assured rapidity over virtually all roads. And the grip
is genuinely palpable: you can actually sense it through the driver's seat.
throughout the cabin
steering wheel is ideally fit for purpose: it's a three-spoke multi-function
item, leather wrapped, with good thumb cut-outs, 'just right' diameter rim and
comfortable perforated leather sections on the 'work areas'. And it's lovely
to use. Shift paddles are fitted to the back of the horizontal spokes: downshifts
are made using the left-hand side and upshifts with the right paddle. Another
sign of Audi's meticulous attention to detail is the selector lever knob
it fits easily in the palm of your left hand and the safety release button is
perfectly placed for your left thumb. You can, should you wish, make manual
changes using the selector lever although if you have paddle-shifts then your
hands never have to leave the wheel.
ensuring your comfort, if you're riding up front, are the superb heated front
seats. Not only do they adjust every which way electrically but they're supportive
and extremely comfortable. Adjustable length under-thigh support is provided,
as too is adjustable lumbar support. Plus, with five heating settings, they
keep you snug in even the coldest weather. They're quick to warm up (almost
as soon as you turn the switch) and reach all the right parts of your anatomy.
A nice feature is that adjusting the seat heater switch brings up a graphic
on the main display screen so you can see what adjustments you're making without
taking your eyes completely off the road. It's little touches like this that
make driving the allroad (and Audis in general) so very relaxing.
The climate control panel is a doddle to use and intuitively understandable
without reading the handbook. All four windows are, as you'd expect, auto one-shot
up/down and drive-away auto central locking is standard, as are heated and auto-fold
door mirrors. And you can easily customise the settings for locking and lighting.
Fit and finish throughout the cabin is impossible to fault.
So if you're looking for a stylish estate car that's refined on road but capable
of tackling the occasional foray off road (and that will then get you safely
back to civilisation again), and that looks like a car rather than a 4x4, then
the A4 allroad quattro is likely to be right up your street! MotorBar
Audi A4 allroad 3.0 TDI quattro S tronic | £ 33,730
Maximum speed: 147mph | 0-62mph: 6.4 seconds | Overall test MPG: 37.2mpg
Power: 237bhp | Torque: 369lb ft | CO2 189g/km | Insurance group 16