ALL ROADS LEAD TO QUATTRO
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.