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Audi A4 allroad quattro soft-roader but no soft option

PUBLISHED: 10:37 28 January 2017

Audi A4 allroad quattro is as happy getting its tyres dirty as munching motorway miles. Picture: Audi

Audi A4 allroad quattro is as happy getting its tyres dirty as munching motorway miles. Picture: Audi

Audi

If you want to venture off road but don't want an SUV, then Audi's soft-roader allroad estate fits the bill, says motoring editor Andy Russell.

Audi A4 allroad quattro is as happy getting its tyres dirty as munching motorway miles. Picture: AudiAudi A4 allroad quattro is as happy getting its tyres dirty as munching motorway miles. Picture: Audi

The back end of the estate slithered side to side on the frosty morning so it was fair bet the gritter’s salt had not reached that tricky slope to the main road. Not that I was worried in the car behind.

I was driving the latest Audi A4 allroad quattro and it sailed up without drama.

It’s easy to think you don’t need all-wheel drive if you don’t venture off road but it’s reassuring to have it, especially in a rural area.

Audi A4 allroad quattro is as happy getting its tyres dirty as munching motorway miles. Picture: AudiAudi A4 allroad quattro is as happy getting its tyres dirty as munching motorway miles. Picture: Audi

That’s the appeal of this beefier A4 allroad quattro, and it’s bigger A6 stablemate, which fits between the standard A4 Avant estate and the Q5 sport utility vehicle.

Audi, along with fellow Volkswagen Group companies VW, Skoda and SEAT, has long catered for people who don’t want an SUV with its rugged, all-wheel drive versions of estate cars.

Audi A4 allroad quattro is as happy getting its tyres dirty as munching motorway miles. Picture: AudiAudi A4 allroad quattro is as happy getting its tyres dirty as munching motorway miles. Picture: Audi

Looks and image

Take an A4 Avant quattro, raise the ride height by 34mm, add protective wheelarch cladding, underbody guards and a new grille, as part of a more macho look, and an extra off-road mode for the drive select system to tailor steering and transmission and throttle response for more challenging terrain, and you have the A4 allroad quattro.

It looks good – tasteful and purposeful rather than tacky with plastic bolt-ons.

Audi A4 allroad quattro is as happy getting its tyres dirty as munching motorway miles. Picture: AudiAudi A4 allroad quattro is as happy getting its tyres dirty as munching motorway miles. Picture: Audi

How it drives

Much of that extra 34mm ground clearance over the standard A4 Avant is down to longer suspension travel for getting off the beaten track rather than serious off-road ability. The ride feels softer, soaking up bumps and lumps quietly and efficiently even with the Sport model’s bigger 18in wheels.

The Audi A4's facia is one of the classiest going. Picure: AudiThe Audi A4's facia is one of the classiest going. Picure: Audi

The trade-off is that it doesn’t have the same poise at the standard A4, more prone to body roll through corners, but I’d live with that.

The petrol model gets a new quattro ultra system which can disengage all-wheel drive altogether for the sake of fuel efficiency but diesel models get a permanent system, with self-locking centre differential, with a 40/60 front/rear power distribution but quickly switching up to 70% front and 85% rear seamlessly when needed. You’re never aware it is working, the fact you don’t slip and slide means it is!

As well as an off-road mode for the driving characteristics, there’s hill descent control to help in slippery conditions.

Audi's Virtual Cockpit is a £450 option on the A4 allroad quattro. Picture: AudiAudi's Virtual Cockpit is a £450 option on the A4 allroad quattro. Picture: Audi

Under the bonnet

The 252PS 2.0-litre petrol is best avoided, not difficult with such fine diesels – 190PS 2.0-litre diesel and 218 and 272PS 3.0-litre V6s – all mated to automatic gearboxes.

Audi's Virtual Cockpit is a £450 option on the A4 allroad quattro. Picture: AudiAudi's Virtual Cockpit is a £450 option on the A4 allroad quattro. Picture: Audi

The smallest diesel will be popular but the 218PS V6 diesel suits the more muscular character with a silky power delivery and it sounds wonderful. It has the same amount of torque at 400 Newton metres as the smaller four-cylinder unit but across a much wider rev band, 1,250 to 3,750rpm, so feels much livelier with effortless low-down acceleration. Real-world MPG was 40 to 45.

The downside is it costs around £1,700 more than the four-cylinder unit but also that much less than the more powerful V6.

Rear legroom in Audi A4 allroad is adequate for average-sized adults. Picture: AudiRear legroom in Audi A4 allroad is adequate for average-sized adults. Picture: Audi

Space and comfort

The cabin and fascia come straight out of the standard A4 – nothing wrong with that as it’s one of the classiest going – especially with the optional £450 12.3in Audi Virtual Cockpit.

The A4 will seat four adults, provided they’re not all over six feet, and five at a push but a centre rear passenger also has to straddle a transmission hump.

Audi A4 allroad's 505-litre boot rises to 1,510 litres with the 40/20/40 split rear seat backs down. Picture: AudiAudi A4 allroad's 505-litre boot rises to 1,510 litres with the 40/20/40 split rear seat backs down. Picture: Audi

You also get a 505-litre boot, rising to 1,510 litres with the 40/20/40 rear seat backs down.

Final say

With the rise and rise of SUVs and crossovers, you might wonder if there is a need for the A4 allroad quattro. It’s never going to sell in big numbers but this stylish soft-roader offers the best of both worlds if you want to just tackle muddy roads rather than serious mud-plugging.

It costs more than the standard A4 Avant but adds value for the right customer.

SPEC AND TECH

Price: Audi A4 allroad quattro Sport 3.0 TDI 218PS £40,825 (range from £36,010)

Engine: 2,967cc, 218PS V6 turbo diesel mated to seven speed S tronic automatic transmission and permanent all-wheel drive

Performance: 0-62mph 6.6 seconds; top speed 143mph

MPG: Urban 51.4; extra urban 55.4; combined 54.3

CO2 emissions: 141g/km

Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 28%

Insurance group: 28E (out of 50)

Warranty: Three years or 60,000 miles

Will it fit in the garage? L 4,750mm; W (including door mirrors) 2,022mm; H 1,493mm

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