Launched: Audi’s high riding A4 Allroad wagon
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.
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.
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.
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