F1 tech in a big, seven-seat Swedish SUV? You'd better believe it...
You are here
That’s no ordinary Audi A4, is it? Quite right. It’s the A4 Allroad – a roughed-up, SUV-ified version of the standard A4 Avant. Ride height is up by 34mm (23mm from the raised suspension, the rest from bigger wheels and tyres), there’s a special off-road driving mode with hill-descent control, and some chunky bits of trim. But can it actually, you know, go off-road? No idea, if we’re honest – the opportunity didn’t present itself. Audi seems to think so, however, and if the VW Golf Alltrack (similar in ethos to the Audi – an AWD Golf Estate with off-road kit bolted on) we drove off-road last year is anything to go by, the A4 might actually be pretty capable. Certainly able to pull itself up a wet, grassy slope after Matilda’s gymkhana, we reckon. So, standard AWD?
Indeed – Quattro, as you’ll no doubt know Audi calls it. The diesels get the existing sort, with a permanent (though variable) 40:60 front/rear torque split. The 2.0-litre TFSI petrol, which next to nobody in Britain will buy, gets a new, more intelligent predictive system which decouples the rear-wheels when the extra traction they imbue isn’t needed. It analyses heaps of data to determine when those extra driven wheels might come in handy, and you can read more about it here. Which one did you try? The Big Daddy. A 3.0-litre, six-cylinder diesel with 268bhp and a mighty 443lb ft of torque. Most will, quite sensibly (and incorrectly), go for one of the 2.0-litre diesels, which still offer up a decent turn of speed but cost a fair bit less to buy in the first place. Wait, incorrectly? Yes, because the 3.0-litre is an absolute peach. With it, the Allroad is surprisingly, persuasively quick – way quicker than it needs to be – serving up 0-62mph in 5.5 seconds and a limited 155mph top speed. It’s quiet too, and properly refined. The gearbox is an eight-speed automatic, and it too is excellent – a bit hesitant initially, but once you’re up to speed it swaps gears swiftly and decisively. But? Prices start at £39,630 – which is a lot of money, about £3.5k more than a base 2.0 TDI. And when you start adding all the equipment a car like this demands, the price spirals. The one we drove was more than £56k. Sure, it had everything: the adaptive LED headlights, Bang & Olufsen stereo and the digital dials (or Virtual Cockpit) first seen in the TT, to name but three. But still, £56k. You can get a proper SUV for that kind of money. So it’s pricey, but what’s it like to drive? Fine. Audi decided not to pursue the likes of Jaguar and BMW when it came to the handling of this current, still-quite-new A4, and sure enough, it’s not the sharpest thing around. The Allroad’s edges are even more chamfered, but there’s still little body roll and, with the adaptive suspension of our car at least, the ride’s excellent. A proper cruiser, this. Worth the money? Well, here’s the thing. Equipped with this engine, the A4 Allroad is actually a little under a grand cheaper than the regular A4 Avant Quattro (admittedly with a higher spec), which is a bit odd. The Allroad’s certainly a very nice thing to waft about in, much like the bigger A6 Allroad, which is one of the most resolved cars Audi makes. But given the price, we wouldn’t forgive you if you’re tempted to step down off the fence and go either for an actual, proper estate, or a bona fide SUV.