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Car reviews - Audi - A4 - Allroad 2.0 TFSI Quattro

Our Opinion

We like
Fabulous cabin even when unoptioned, perky engine and dynamics, hops over kerbs and dirt-road undulations the A4 Avant can’t
Room for improvement
Optional heated seats and active cruise control not ideal, lacks driving position of an SUV, auto’s low-speed issues

Gallery

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Audi logo27 Apr 2017

Price and equipment

IN AUSTRALIA’s loftier suburbs, seeing a wagon could be described as a ‘unicorn’ moment. Likewise, testing an Audi that is completely unoptioned (down to the standard and virginal white paint) is a bit like spotting a fabled creature that supposedly exists, but is never seen.

The A4 Allroad 2.0 TFSI Quattro costs $74,400 plus on-road costs, and that is the vehicle we were presented with. For the $1500 over the A4 Avant 2.0 TFSI Quattro, the jacked-up version ditches sports suspension and replaces 19-inch alloy wheels with more bush-friendly 18-inch tyres.

Otherwise, standard kit is mostly impressive. Included are leather trim with electrically adjustable front seats, a power tailgate, tri-zone climate control, keyless auto-entry, front/rear parking sensors with reverse-view camera, a blind-spot monitor and autonomous emergency braking (AEB).

The only exceptions are optional heated seats ($600), active cruise control ($1900 – as part of a driver assistance package) and automatic park assistance ($950 – with around-view camera). All arguably should be standard for this price.

Interior

Absorb the above standard equipment list, and perhaps Audi could have been more generous for the money. However, some vehicles are beyond box-ticking, as the A4 Allroad 2.0 TFSI quattro proves.

This family car does not require extra features to compensate for a lack of inherent design quality. There is great value, for example, in the standard cabin’s superb tones and textures. Lush plastics and tactile buttons provide a genuine premium ambience, and are ably supported by a Multi-Media Interface (MMI) system that is ergonomic and intuitive.

Audi’s ‘one shot’ voice control system for the satellite navigation is flawless, while the inclusion of Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone mirroring adds to connectivity options and the standard 10-speaker audio system is superb. What it all means is the optional Bang and Olufsen audio system ($1500) is nice but not absolutely necessary. Likewise the fantastic 12.3-inch colour display ahead of the driver, dubbed ‘virtual cockpit’, a $2200 extra bundled with a head-up display.

Seating both front and back is comfortable, and space is as expected for a medium-sized vehicle right down to the impressive 505-litre boot volume. The driving position is not as lofty as an SUV, while rear riders have marginally less entry and egress space than say, the brand’s similarly priced Q5. The upside is the A4 Allroad 2.0 TFSI Quattro is lighter and more efficient than that model.

Engine and transmission

Audi’s 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine boasts a surprisingly sporty edge that could startle some buyers looking for a relaxed tourer. The side body cladding might spell rock-hopper, but the 6.1-second 0-100km/h claim says traffic light-leaper instead.

With the same 185kW between 5000rpm and 6000rpm, and 370Nm from 1600rpm until 4500rpm, as the A4 Avant 2.0 TFSI Quattro, the Allroad is only a tenth slower than its sibling owing to a nominal 40kg increase in kerb weight, now 1580kg.

Its combined-cycle fuel consumption sticker also reads 6.7 litres per 100 kilometres, or 0.1L/100km thirstier.

On a test route that included urban, freeway, extra-urban arterial and dirt-road mountain climbing, we recorded a reasonable 8.9L/100km.

Refined and smooth when driven gently, yet surprisingly hard-edged and energetic when extended, this is a fabulous combination of energetic engine and slick seven-speed dual-clutch S tronic automatic transmission. As with many similar types of the latter, it only stumbles at parking speed where it can feel lurchy, with delayed responses, but thankfully a hill-holder function is included.

Ride and handling

Compared with the Avant, the Allroad raises ride height by 25mm while increasing ground clearance by 34mm. It also retains the same Quattro all-wheel drive system that is typically front-driven, but can anticipate and react to changing conditions to send drive rearward. The only difference is that in this raised version an ‘offroad’ mode is included, which permanently applies power to four wheels and alters the electronic stability control (ESC) parameters to suit.

It works a treat off the bitumen. While the handling is essentially neutral and stable over slippery surfaces, Audi’s ESC system is also subtle yet sure in operation. Rather than clamping the brakes on slippery dirt, for example, it encourages the driver to use the throttle to pivot the car through bends.

On the road, the raised A4 does not have the tenacious grip of its lowered 2.0 TFSI Quattro sibling, which gets standard sports suspension in addition to low-profile 19-inch tyres. However, it continues to feel light and effervescent through corners, in a way most SUVs do not.

Backed by light and fluent steering response, the Allroad also delivers fine ride comfort and control that matches an Avant equipped with three-mode adaptive suspension, which is an $1100 option on that car. As with the unoptioned cabin, it is simply a case of ‘less is more’.

Safety and servicing

Eight airbags (including dual front, front-side, rear-side, and full-length curtain protection), ABS, switchable electronic stability control (ESC), pre-collision warning with autonomous emergency braking (AEB), blind-spot monitor with pedestrian and cyclist detection, blind-spot monitor, and front and rear parking sensors with reverse-view camera are all standard.

Euro NCAP has tested the Audi A4 and it was awarded five stars, achieving 34.50 out of a possible 38 points.

Audi’s $1620 three-year/45,000km servicing package includes a trio of annual (or 15,000km) dealership check-ups.

Verdict

The Audi A4 Allroad 2.0 TFSI Quattro might not tower over traffic like a similarly priced medium SUV can, and nor can it rock crawl like a proper off-roader. However, it continues to successfully take the traditional wagon format and lift (okay, final pun, we promise) its appeal.

It is a bit like when a waiter at a restaurant asks if Sir or Madam would like cracked pepper on their steak. The Allroad is just an Avant with a sprinkling of added flavour, a dash of protective body cladding and a dollop of extra farm-trail prowess with its suspension, tyres and safety systems.

For only $1500 more than its sibling, Audi has not been greedy when pricing this vehicle either, although some equipment could (and should) be made standard.

Otherwise, the A4 Allroad 2.0 TFSI Quattro proves that style, space, technology, performance, economy, on-road and off-the-beaten-track dynamics can co-exist. And certainly in a more convincing fashion than with an equivalent SUV.

Rivals

Volkswagen Passat Alltrack from $49,290 plus on-road costs
More affordable Audi sibling cheaper inside, with less impressive diesel engine.

Volvo V60 Cross Country from $46,990 plus on-road costs
Getting old, and awaiting V90 Cross Country sibling.

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