Melville Times - - Driveway - Bill Buys

THERE'S a lot to love in Audi's A4 all­road qu­at­tro. Firstly, the name it­self is great: all­road. The ag­gres­sive-look­ing Eurowa­gen is not one for the un­made Out­back, but if there's a road of any kind, it will cope just fine. Hence all, or any road.

Then there's the look: it’s a bit higher (34mm) off the deck than an A4 Avant (Audi for sta­tion wagon) and has some un­der­body ar­mour, but it has flared wheel arches and although it can go just about any­where a big SUV can, it's a sleek, com­par­a­tively low-slung beauty that doesn't block out the sky­line with its bulk, like those truck-based SUVs, and its qu­at­tro all­wheel drive lets it ac­cel­er­ate and squirt through bends like a go-kart.

The lat­est all­road (Audi likes to spell it in lower case) still looks much like its pre­de­ces­sor, de­spite hav­ing all-new pan­els, but a lot of changes have been made in­side and in the techno divi­sion.

A $2200 Tech­nic Pack­age op­tion, as fit­ted to our test car, com­prises a su­perb 'vir­tual cock­pit' with fully dig­i­tal in­stru­ment clus­ter with a 12.3inch hi-res colour dis­play with a smaller pic­ture be­tween the speedo and tacho in front of the driver and head-up dis­play.

We also en­joyed the $1500 op­tion of a 19speaker Bang & Olufsen 3D sound sys­tem, a 755W af­fair via a 16-chan­nel am­pli­fier, plus a $2000 rear seat en­ter­tain­ment set-up, com­plete with an iPad-like tablet in­te­grated with the Audi's in­fo­tain­ment pack­age.

All oc­cu­pants get lovely leather-ap­pointed seats, a power-ad­justable sports one up front with elec­tric lum­bar func­tion and mem­ory for the driver, and there's tri-zone cli­mate con­trol.

The 185kW/370Nm 2.0-litre petrol turbo four-cylin­der is a first for the all­road and it's a ter­rific unit with strong per­for­mance and ex­cel­lent fuel econ­omy.

Trans­mis­sion is by a dual-clutch sev­en­speed S-tronic and the car can run to 100km/h in 6.1 sec­onds, yet re­turn an av­er­age 6.7litres/100km. The seven-speeder also has a free-wheel­ing func­tion, which dis­en­gages drive to the rear wheels when the qu­at­tro sys­tem is not needed.

The stylish five-seater runs on 18-inch al­loys with Miche­lin lo-pro tyres and its so­phis­ti­cated sus­pen­sion and spot-on steer­ing en­sure com­fort and sta­bil­ity. It cor­ners flat and the steer­ing has fine road feel.

It's a joy­ful pup on the road, ev­ery mo­ment a plea­sure and you can do fin­ger­tip gearshift­shifts your­self, or just leave it all to the smart auto.

Cargo-wise, there's 505 litres in the tail, or 1510 litres with the split-fold rear seats folded flat. An elec­tric tail­gate can be opened via kick mo­tion if you have your arms full of stuff.

Safety gear in­cludes Au­ton­o­mous Emer­gency Brak­ing (AEB) and pedes­trian de­tec­tion (up to 85km/h), re­vers­ing cam­era, side as­sist blind spot warn­ing and ev­ery other elec­tronic aid imag­in­able, and yes, it cer­tainly does have a five-star rat­ing.

Con­sid­er­ing what it has in stan­dard form, its $74,400 price seems good value, es­pe­cially bear­ing in mind it has many more fea­tures than we have the space to list here. Our op­tion-laden wagon was $85,123.

Ver­dict: A class act. So­phis­ti­cated, spa­cious, safe, sporty and sen­si­ble. Se­ri­ous driv­ers will be smit­ten.

Audi's sec­ond­gen­er­a­tion A4 all­road qu­at­tro.

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