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Car reviews - Audi - A4 - Allroad

Our Opinion

We like
Rugged demeanour, visual appeal, strong and smooth EU6 diesel engine, new off-road electronics
Room for improvement
Single high spec level means it’s expensive, MMI system showing its age, artificial steering feel

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Audi logo27 Aug 2015

By TIM ROBSON

Price and equipment

AUDI’S range seems to widen with the turning of the days, but the Allroad manages to stand a little apart from the A4 pack. It comes in a single mechanical specification: a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel backed by a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic gearbox and the quattro all-wheel-drive system.

The 2.0-litre turbo-diesel is almost an all-new engine, and makes a healthy 140kW of power and 400Nm of torque, up 10kW and 20Nm on its previous incarnation. The mechanical and digital additions have given the engine EU6 levels of compliance, and the Allroad is the first Audi to feature the new powerplant.

The A4 Allroad is only available in Avant form, and sports a long list of standard features. Xenon headlights, 17-inch alloy wheels and aluminium roof rails complement the grey plastic overfenders. Stainless-steel underbody panels and additional subframe reinforcement provide protection to key components like the sump and transmission, and foglights are fitted front and rear.

Audi’s MMI satellite navigation system works through a seven-inch colour screen. There’s also a 20GB music storage system, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming and a 10-speaker sound system.

There are powered leather front seats, a convenience key and three-zone climate-control air-conditioning offered as standard, along with eight airbags.

Pricing remains the same for 2015 at $70,500 plus on-road costs. It has few real competitors in the space. Subaru’s top-spec Outback 3.6R wagon starts at $47,990, while the A4’s blood relative, the Volkswagen Passat Alltrack, is priced from $48,290.

For 2015, Audi is offering a $3000 Convenience Pack, which consists of a ‘memory package’ that incorporates heated, auto-dimming and retractable exterior mirrors, heated front seats, an electric tailgate and alloy interior inlays. A set of 19-inch rims can be optioned for $1000 extra.

Interior

If you’ve seen an A4, you’ve seen the inside of an Allroad. The theme doesn’t stray far from the stylish and tidy layout of Audi’s recently updated mid-sizer, and leather trim is fitted standard.

The 7.0-inch MMI screen makes an appearance in the centre console, managed via dials, buttons and voice controls. It’s a good system, but it’s finally starting to show its age against newer-generation competitors, which sport cleverer smartphone integration and the like.

The A4 can feel surprisingly compact and cosy on the inside, but it is well thought out and all controls fall easily to hand. The seven-speed DSG gearbox can be actuated via steering wheel paddles, too.

The rear cargo space can hold 490 litres of luggage. The 60/40 split-fold rear seats can be flipped forward via levers in the cargo area, revealing a flat loading space.

Engine and transmission

The new 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel is a peach of an engine. The refinements to bring it to EU6 heel have resulted in a smooth, soulful and refined powerplant that makes easy work of wafting the Allroad along on a seamless wave of torque.

It’s astonishingly quiet and docile, even under load, but lacks for nothing in the mid-range. It’s rated at 5.6 litres per 100 kilometres on consumption, a figure we got very close to over 500-plus kilometres of testing (5.8L/100km).

The seven-speed DSG suits the engine’s torque curve beautifully, rarely requiring a manual override. The Haldex AWD is a familiar one, biasing its drive towards the front axle unless otherwise required.

An off-road surface detection mode has been added to the Drive Select system, giving the Allroad owner a bit more dirt ability. The A4 actually detects which surface the car is on, adjusting damping, traction control and anti-lock braking thresholds to suit.

Ride and handling

An extra 37mm of ride height gives the Allroad a total of 180mm of ground clearance, but also jacks up its centre of gravity quite significantly.

Fortunately, a softer spring tune complements the increased bodyroll rather than working against it, giving the Allroad a very cosseting, yet not wallowy, ride quality.

Its electric steering verges on artificial both on- and off-road, but it’s bearable, while brake feel is firm and high, but a little wooden.

On tarmac, the high-sidewall tyres on 17-inch rims can buzz a bit on coarse tarmac, but it’s only nitpicking. Optional 19s would firm up the ride a little more if you’re only looking to stay on sealed surfaces.

Safety and servicing

Eight airbags, a rearview camera, a fatigue detection mode and post-collision brake control are all standard on the five-star ANCAP-rated A4.

Verdict

Audi, like other premium European brands, believes there is a car for everyone in its range, and the Allroad bears this theory out.

It offers the same space and tech of a standard Avant, but offers a useful level of off-road ability that the regular model simply cannot match.

Its outdoorsy plastic panelling, raised ride height and unique rims also give the occasionally soft A4 a new, more rugged demeanour that is attractive to the eye.

The only thing holding it back is its price – at $70,000-plus, it is significantly pricier than similarly sized off-road wagon competitors like Subaru’s Outback and its own stablemate, the VW Passat Alltrack.

Rivals

Subaru Outback 3.6R, $47,990 – massive price cut from 2014 give the original off-road wagon a big head start.

Volkswagen Passat Alltrack, $48,290 – If you’re not swayed by the four-ringed badge, the similarly sized and equipped Passat is the next best thing.

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