It’s car-like, competent and comfortable, and for me a much better solution to combining all-wheel-drive grip and traction; with versatility and comfortable cruising.
Audi’s A4 Allroad is selling its sox off in Germany, UK, USA and Australia. Its popularity may just be the tip of an iceberg of rejection for high-riding SUVs, and a return to the practicality and refinement of a station wagon offering lots of interior space, flexibility and creature comforts. In Australia almost 40% of Avant sales are the Allroad version.
I’m surprised by the excellent quality of the highway ride, given its soft wall Michelin Primacy mud’n’snow’ tyres, and its suspension setup which is designed to cope with extremes of terrain.
Prices start at AUD$74,000, but as usual with both Audi and BMW, the equipment you desire is all extra, so this little gem could run to AUD$80,000 or more! However, the interior quality is streets ahead of the little Q2 I wrote about recently.
Having spent a good chunk of my working life weathering snow-bound winters in North America, I would welcome the A4 Allroad into my garage anytime. Its ability, developed in Germany where they endure the occasional blizzard, means the Allroad is a competent performer on slippery, icy roads.
Another aspect of the wagon’s ability is that since I began driving Range Rovers in the Australian snowfields, terrain management technology has come a long way. Whilst Range Rovers relied on a technically-competent mechanical centre differential to manage power and torque transfer; today’s all wheel drive vehicles benefit from highly sophisticated management of that task thanks to intelligent software manipulation of load and power sharing.
The Allroad stands just 34mm higher than the Avant on which it is based, but 27mm lower than a Q5 SUV. In my book that makes it the perfect all-rounder. Easy ingress and exit; a lower, more sporty driving position; but retaining its all-road capability.
The drive select mode can be switched between automatic, offroad, dynamic, comfort and economy.
Dynamic mode delivers the best of any compromise, for road use, changing the shift points, plus the engine becomes more responsive to throttle inputs.
Audi co-developed its new 'Quattro with Ultra' AWD system with Magna, replacing the original Quattro system developed by Thorsen.
The new system has both reactive and predictive technologies which monitor conditions and driver inputs every 10 milliseconds and react almost immediately to a change in road conditions, or driver reactions. The intelligence of the system and its deployment is truly amazing.
This is what makes the new Allroad, which is some 80kg lighter than the previous model, all the more attractive for someone whose vehicle has to operate on dry and snowy roads. The technology will decouple the Quattro system, when it senses that front-wheel-drive will be adequate for the conditions. This avoids unnecessary friction, saving fuel, and wear on the transmission components.
The A4 Allroad may just be Audi’s most attractive model; although the driver in me really fancies the S3.
I have therefore awarded the Audi A4 Allroad the prize for: ‘Best in Snow’.