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Car reviews - Audi - A4 - Allroad

Our Opinion

We like
Classy, well-equipped, safe semi-off-roader with plenty of space
Room for improvement
Quite pricey, especially with options on top

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Audi logo15 Sep 2016

By TIM ROBSON

ONLY 150 Audi A4 Allroads were brought in to test the waters in 2012, but the formula struck a chord with buyers, and the company quickly added it as a mainline model.

Powertrain availability from Europe means that customers wanting a B9 version of the A4 Allroad will only be able to pick a petrol-powered version until November when the diesel variant lobs.

It’s not likely to drastically affect sales, though – unlike the B8 Allroad, which really only lobbed in the later years of the model’s lifecycle, the B9 A4 only launched earlier this year, giving the car a long potential shelf life.

The B9 is an all-new beast, built atop the brand’s new flexible MLB architecture and groaning at the seams with an extraordinary amount of active and passive safety features that are offered as standard.

Features like proper swerve avoidance, cross-traffic braking and LEDs on the doors to warn of cyclists push the A4 – and subsequently the Allroad – to the head of the queue when it comes to genuine safety inclusions, and these are only a very few of what’s on offer.

The Allroad sits on the road almost halfway between an A4 Avant wagon and a Q5 SUV, and its chassis has been tuned with comfort in mind. The ride on sealed surfaces verges on soft, but it manages to avoid feeling wallowy, thanks to sufficient bodyroll control and lots of suspension travel to keep things level.

Our brief foray onto potholed gravel back roads showed the other side of the Allroad’s character, with the tall-sidewall 18-inch tyres helping to take a lot of the edge off the square-edged holes, some of which were large enough to cause damage if hit hard enough.

The same soft suspension tune helped the tyres bite in, while the Allroad’s clever new all-wheel-drive system (which is only available on the petrol-engined version the diesel gets a Haldex set-up) can be set so 50 per cent of drive can be permanently delivered to each axle, via an Offroad mode in the Driver Select system.

Rudimentary underbody protection also keeps rocks and gravel from damaging the sump or gearbox.

Adaptive dampers are a $1900 option there’s a notable difference between firm and comfort settings, but the stock arrangement, while softer in tune than that in, say, a Subaru Outback, is a pretty good compromise out of the box, especially given most of the Allroad’s best work will be done on tarmac.

The rest of the Allroad is all-new A4, which we already think is a pretty good device. The 185kW/370Nm 2.0-litre petrol engine gets the car along at a decent clip, thanks in part to an 80kg weight loss over the old car (it now weighs 1580kg in petrol form), while the seven-speed DSG dual-clutch transmission is a good match for the motor.

There’s plenty of room up front for driver and passenger, and the optional virtual dash is an amazing bit of kit to behold, especially in full map mode.

Rear seaters are well catered for, as well.

It’s worth remarking on the price positioning at $74,400 before on-road costs, the petrol-powered Allroad is $1500 dearer than the similarly motivated quattro Avant, and $11,500 more expensive than the front-drive version.

It’s also more than $11,000 more expensive than the (admittedly older) equivalent Q5, the 2.0 TFSI.

We suspect the buyer group comes more from those considering a wagon rather than an SUV, though. The Allroad offers the opportunity for some light off-road work – getting down to a weekend campsite, for example, or up to a country property – without compromising on the on-road feel and sophistication that the new A4 provides.

In the meantime, if you can’t wait for the cheaper diesel version to arrive in 2017, the petrol-powered A4 Allroad is akin to wearing Blundstone boots with your Hugo Boss suit it offers a blend of proper luxury, up-to-date tech and enough off-road smarts to keep you out of trouble.

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