While a tsunami of sports utility vehicles is well on its way to swamping passenger car markets around the world, some marques are offering a middle ground vehicle. Versions of the traditional station wagon with higher ground clearance and all-wheel-drive.
Frankly these sensible high-riding wagons are not proving popular because buyers prefer the macho image of a 4WD (even if its does have 2WD and compromised ground clearance…).
The latest version of the A4 comes in Avant (station wagon) style, with the top of the heap being the new second-generation Audi allroad quattro offering the practicalities of a station wagon with off-road ability through the newest generation of the quattro all-wheel-drive system.
This A4 wagon is available with the 185 kW 2.0 TFSI engine, the first time a petrol engine has been offered in any allroad quattro model in Australia. An alternative is the 140 kW 2.0 TDI diesel motor from the previous generation.
The advantage of the new quattro is that it is lighter by four kg than the superseded system and brings significant fuel savings. Needless to say, the latest allroad is well specified, with Audi’s high-tech trademarks in all departments.
On test was the allroad quattro 2.0 TFSI S tronic petrol variant, which comes to market at $74,400, plus on road costs. Added to the vehicle was the Technik pack consisting of the Audi virtual cockpit for $2200, load area rails with load securing kit ($350), plus metallic paint finish ($1420), nudging up the price to $79,223.
The allroad quattro has its own distinctive styling, from a single-frame radiator grille and flared wheel arches filled with 18-inch alloy wheels to aluminium-look trim elements and roof rails.
Despite being a big vehicle, at almost five metres long, exterior lines and proportions are pleasing to the eye, with no bulkiness evident from any angle. In keeping with its go-almost-anywhere character the allroad wagon also bests its Avant stablemate with 34 mm of additional ground clearance.
INTERIOR / INFOTAINMENT
It’s new A4 all round here with quality fit and finish, including leather on the seats, triple-zone air-con and sunblinds on rear windows. Push button start is backed up by one of the better engine start / stop systems around with little hesitation for the motor to fire up on getting the driver’s go-ahead when stationary.
As well as standard Audi Connect with Google Earth sat nav, the A4 allroad quattro is available with the integrated Audi tablet, which allows rear passengers to use the specially developed the Android-compatible device to watch movies or play games.
It is also fully integrated into the car’s infotainment system, so it is possible to send navigation destinations to the driver for one-touch approval.
The tablets have been developed so as not to injure passengers in the event of an accident, and also with anti-reflective low-glare properties, so they can be used in bright sunlight. A single Audi tablet costs $2000, with a pair priced at $3600.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
There’s 185 kW on tap from 5000 to 6000 rpm and 370 Nm from 1600 to 4500 rpm from the turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine. It’s mated with a seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission. The maker claims a zero-to-100 km/h time of only 6.1 seconds.
When AWD traction is not needed, efficiencies are gained by using only the front axle for propulsion. The two clutches disengage to minimise drivetrain torque losses, which in turn, aids fuel efficiency.
The first clutch is at the front of the propeller shaft, the second in the rear differential, which saves the drag of the differential drive gear turning in the oil bath. When torque controls detect wheel slip, up to 100 per cent torque can be sent to either axle.
The allroad quattro has earned a five-star ANCAP safety rating thanks to an impressive array of standard safety features. Included are Audi pre-sense city with autonomous emergency braking and pedestrian detection (up to 85 km/h), exit warning, cross traffic assist, Audi side assist blind spot warning, Audi pre-sense basic (belt tensioning, window closing and other preventative measures if an emergency is detected), Audi pre-sense rear (warns following traffic if they are at risk of running into the rear of the car) and parking system plus with rear-view camera.
Buyers can shell out a further $1900 for added assistance from active lane assist, adaptive cruise control with stop & go function, including traffic jam assist and distance indicator, turn assist, collision avoidance during evasive manoeuvres at speed, Audi pre-sense front collision warning up to 250 km/h, predictive efficiency assistant, plus high-beam assist.
Little to complain about from this driver, with typical Audi efficiencies in controls and instruments through the Audi virtual cockpit with digital cluster, 12.3-inch high resolution layout and head-up windscreen display.
Pleasing for the owner too is the fuel efficiency for the vehicle’s size. Combined fuel consumption is a claimed 6.7 litres per, thanks to powertrain efficiencies, an added bonus falling under the Luxury Car Tax threshold. The test vehicle scored up to mid-teen figures in town traffic; less than half that at motorway speeds.
The new quattro system includes an upgraded drive select program. In ‘auto’ mode, the system provides optimum traction and stable handling. In ‘dynamic’, power is directed to the rear axle sooner and to a larger degree, improving handling in slippery conditions. In the new ‘off-road’ setting, the all-wheel drive system is always engaged.
Like its A4 Avant sibling, the new A4 allroad quattro packs 505 litres of luggage space; 1510 litres with the rear seats folded flat. It comes standard with electric tailgate activated by a ‘kick motion’ sensor. There’s even an electric sliding luggage cover.
With almost every second vehicle on the road being an SUV of sorts the Audi allroad quattro offers a point of difference in almost every way. Versatile is the keyword, with the added bonus of lower fuel consumption and the absence of LCT thanks to its price.
AT A GLANCE
A4 allroad quattro 2.0 TDI S tronic:$71,400 A4 allroad quattro 2.0 TFSI S tronic:$74,400
Technik package of Virtual cockpit and heads-up display $2200. Combined with optional sunroof $3900.
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Audi dealer for drive-away prices.
18-inch alloy wheels
LED headlights with adaptive function and dynamic rear indicators
MMI Navigation plus with 8.3-inch screen, MMI touch, DVD player, 10GB music storage, live traffic and five map updates
Audi Smartphone interface (Apple Carplay and Android Auto)
7.0-inch high-resolution colour driver information screen
Sport front seats including electric front seats with electric lumbar support (with memory function for the driver)
3-zone climate control, deluxe automatic air-conditioning with rear display
New Audi Music Interface, with 2 USB connectors
DAB+ digital radio
Convenience key with hands-free opening and closing for tailgate
Auto dimming centre mirror
Audi sound system (180W, 10 speakers, with subwoofer)
Folding exterior mirrors, with heating, dimming and memory functions
Sunblinds for rear side windows
SPECIFICATIONS (Audi Allroad quattro 2.0 TFSI petrol five-door wagon)
Capacity: 1.984 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 185 kW @ 5000-6000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 370 Nm @ 1800-4500 rpm
Fuel Type: Petrol 95 RON
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 6.7 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 144 g/km
DRIVELINE: 7-speed S dual-clutch transmission. quattro permanent all-wheel drive with self-locking centre differential and torque vectoring
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4726 mm
Wheelbase: 2820 mm
Width: 1842 mm
Height: 1427 mm
Turning Circle: 11.6 metres
Kerb Mass: 1510 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 58 litres
Front: Ventilated disc
Three years / unlimited kilometres