HIGH SO­CI­ETY

Launched: Audi’s high rid­ing A4 All­road wagon

The Weekend Post - Motoring - - FRONT PAGE -

THE Ger­man im­porter al­ways cov­ers its bases, so there was no sur­prise that a high rid­ing wagon has been added to the range.

The com­pany un­veiled the All­road jacked up es­tate at Port Dou­glas and then used the roads around the area, in­clud­ing the Rex Range and a chal­leng­ing dirt sec­tion, to put the all-wheel drive car through its paces.

The All­road bridges the gap be­tween the nor­mal A4 Avant wagon and the Q5 SUV with the “high riser” pro­vid­ing a stylish al­ter­na­tive to a box­ier lux­ury soft roader

Audi says there are buy­ers who still want a con­ven­tional wagon that can han­dle the odd dirt road.

So those with a ru­ral prop­erty, who zip up and down our range roads, will ap­pre­ci­ate the All­road.

The lat­est model is a big step up be­cause it’s a new gen­er­a­tion model rather than a re­vamp.

It is ini­tially avail­able with a 2.0- litre tur­bocharged petrol en­gine with a cheaper 2.0-litre turbo diesel fol­low­ing in a few months.

The petrol model comes with Audi’s new quat­tro all-wheeldrive with sen­sors used in a pre­dic­tive way to an­tic­i­pate the road ahead and cal­i­brate All­road’s driv­e­train to suit.

“Ul­tra Quat­tro” uses twin clutch packs on the drive shaft to ap­por­tion power front and rear more ef­fi­ciently.

DE­TAIL­ING

The All­road is essen­tially a wagon on stilts with a tough ex­te­rior and some ad­di­tions for off road, such as un­der­body pro­tec­tion and in­creased ride height com­pared with the reg­u­lar A4 Avant.

It’ s much the same as Volk­swa­gen’s Pas­sat All­track and Subaru’ s Out back. Mer­cedes-Benz has just an­nounced a sim­i­lar E- Class Al­lTer­rain wagon too.

It’s a com­mand­ing de­sign. It looks tough with heavy duty 18inch al­loys and large wheel-arch flares.

In­side, the All­road is classy and hi-tech with great in­stru­men­ta­tion and de­vices with elec­tron­ics ga­lore.

Audi high­lights the car’s strik­ing lines with lash­ings of chrome and buff alu­minium body hard­ware. It is also 80kg lighter than be­fore and wider with three-zone air­con­di­tion­ing.

The in­te­rior de­liv­ers the usual Audi func­tion­al­ity and style and rates as ar­guably one of the bet­ter main­stream cab­ins.

Lux­ury fea­tures abound, al­though there are plenty of op­tions to spend money on.

If you want to ramp up lux­ury and tech­nol­ogy a “vir­tual” cock­pit — a dig­i­tal, con­fig­urable in­stru­ment clus­ter with a 12.3inch colour satel­lite-nav­i­ga­tion dis­play — is avail­able as part of a $2860 Teck­nik Pack­age.

Other items on the op­tions list in­clude a 360-de­gree cam­era and ad­vanced driver as­sist tech­nol­ogy such as ac­tive lane as­sist, adap­tive cruise con­trol, traf­fic jam as­sis­tant and turn as­sist, which mon­i­tors on­com­ing traf­fic when turn­ing right.

In stan­dard form there is a Wi- Fi hotspot with Google ser­vices, Ap­ple Carplay and An­droid Auto, all dis­played on a 7-inch colour screen.

The stan­dard car starts from $74,400 with about $7k in on­road costs, but the re­view car added metal­lic paint ($1420), a $ 1900 as­sis­tance pack­age in­clud­ing a wealth of elec­tronic ex­tras such as adap­tive cruise con­trol, a 360-de­gree cam­era, ac­tive lane as­sist, adap­tive cruise con­trol, traf­fic jam as­sis­tant and turn as­sist, which mon­i­tors on­com­ing traf­fic when turn­ing right.

Adap­tive sus­pen­sion is an­other $ 1700, a spe­cial load area rail sys­tem of $350, some oak in­lays that looked more like plas­tic ($400) plus lux­ury tax of $1391.

The to­tal drive away price was $88,888 – one for a Chi­nese busi­ness­man with a pen­chant for gam­ing per­haps?

The All­road has six drive modes to select from in­clud­ing com­fort, econ­omy or sporti­ness, or you can select a com­bi­na­tion of all three in “in­di­vid­ual” mode. There is also a spe­cial set­ting for off-road con­di­tions.

Stan­dard safety gear in­cludes front and rear cam­eras, radar sen­sors, ul­tra­sound for blind spot and rear mon­i­tor­ing, rear radar to help pre­vent rearend col­li­sions by flash­ing the haz­ard lights at a fast- clos­ing car, au­ton­o­mous emer­gency brak­ing, cross traf­fic alert and more.

DRIV­ING

The All­road’s en­gine runs from back to front rather than side­ways, which is un­usual for a front-drive car.

As a re­sult, it is a bet­ter drive. It feels smoother, more bal­anced, eas­ier to place on the road and bet­ter rid­ing.

Us­ing nu­mer­ous sen­sors, the “ul­tra” quat­tro drive more ef­fi­ciently ap­por­tions drive to the front or rear axle.

The on-de­mand sys­tem also varies drive be­tween wheels as re­quired.

It’s not a sporty han­dler and if driven hard through cor­ners it un­der­steers or pushes wider.

It has a com­fort­able ride which cush­ions the oc­cu­pants and ac­tu­ally wafts along in com­fort mode.

There are low lev­els of noises from the wind, road and the en­gine but coarse bi­tu­men sur­faces do trans­late back into the cabin.

It was an easy drive to Port Dou­glas, up the Rex Range and across to Mt Car­bine and be­yond on the Penin­sula De­vel­op­ment Road.

The punchy 2.0-litre petrol en­gine has a lin­ear power de­liv­ery with plenty of torque read­ily avail­able at low and mid­dle en­gine revs. Ac­cel­er­a­tion is brisk and the en­gine spins out will­ingly with a raspy note.

It’ s great for over­tak­ing the myr­iad of 4WDs tow­ing car­a­vans. There were grey no­mads ga­lore.

The fam­ily wagon has rea­son­able fuel econ­omy of about 8.3L/100km — not bad for

a 1500kg plus ve­hi­cle with this much power.

If you want to ven­ture of­froad, All­road has hill de­scent con­trol for the first time in this model at speeds up to 30km/h.

DE­CID­ING

The Audi A4 All­road is a stylish, prac­ti­cal car with cut­ting edge tech­nol­ogy.

It’ s lighter, safer, more ef­fi­cient, bet­ter equipped and in­cludes the lat­est gen­er­a­tion con­nec­tiv­ity and all-wheel drive that can read the road con­di­tions on petrol vari­ants.

The All­road does not have many ri­vals, al­though Mer­cedes- Benz is com­ing knock­ing with a more ex­pen­sive E-Class vari­ant on the way to Aus­tralia.

RE­VIEW VE­HI­CLE COUR­TESY OF AUDI CEN­TRE CAIRNS, WEST­COURT

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