The Audi A4 Allroad has all the benefits of an A4 Avant, with none of the drawbacks of a full SUV. It makes a pretty convincing case for itself.
What is it?
This is the new Audi A4 Allroad 2.0 TDI, a contemporary four-wheel-drive estate that has been modified with additional ride height and other measures to provide it with the ability to head off road, albeit not too far.
Set to slot into Audi’s line-up between the A4 Avant quattro and Q5, the Audi A4 Allroad 2.0 TDI provides customers yet another choice in a crowded four-wheel drive market.
As with the more expensive A6 Allroad, Audi has persisted with black plastic cladding to provide the exterior of the Aud A4 Allroad with a toughened appearance. It’s certainly not going to appeal to everyone, but the various styling measures help to instantly set the new car apart from its more road-biased siblings.
An added 37mm of ride height improves approach and departure angles, while extra cladding along the underbody also provides improved protection to the components underneath.
The Audi A4 Allroad’s cabin is standard A4: good looking, superbly laid out and generally high in quality. There are also some unique touches, including shiny sill plates, cloth seat upholstery and dashboard applications that give it a slightly more rugged ambience.
There is a choice of three engines: one petrol and two diesels. They include Audi’s 2.0-litre four-cylinder TFSI engine with 208bhp and a 237bhp 3.0-litre V6 TDI.
But it is the excellent 2.0-litre four-cylinder TDI that promises to attract the majority of UK sales. This engine develops 168bhp at 4200rpm rpm and 258lb ft of torque at 1750rpm. That’s sufficient to propel the standard six-speed manual model (a seven-speed double-clutch gearbox is also available) from 0-62mph in 8.9sec and on to a top speed of 132mph. Combined fuel consumption is 44.1mpg and overall CO2 169g/km.
What’s it like?
The A4 Allroad is surprisingly competent, given its twin roles. You get a commanding view of the road, yet in overall on-road ability it is virtually indistinguishable from the standard A4 Avant. To offset a slightly higher centre of gravity, Audi has provided the A4 Allroad with 20mm wider tracks, achieved by fitting redesigned wheel carriers rather than altering the fundamental mechanical package.
Firm damping ensures body roll is well contained; while it leans more than the A4 Avant, it never quite builds to the levels evident in the Q5. There is a drawback to the increased ride height, though, and it can be felt at high speeds, where wind buffeting within the wheel arches upsets the A4’s straight-line stability.
The revelation, however, is the ride. With an added 26mm of spring travel up front and 13mm at the rear, the A4 Allroad rides with greater aplomb than other A4s.
There are no air springs on the A4 Allroad, as there are on the A6 Allroad. As a result, you cannot raise the ride height of the A4 Allroad when you head away from the bitumen like in some rival off-roaders. But at 180mm, its nominal ground clearance is just 20mm shy of the more rugged Q5.
The 2.0-litre TDI engine is exceptionally well suited to the A4 Alllroad, with a satisfyingly flexible delivery from idle well into middling revs providing an excellent combination of performance and economy. It is also impressively smooth and hushed.
Although not featured on early models, Audi is planning to equip the A4 Allroad with a standard efficiency package that includes stop-start, brake energy recuperation and an optimal shift display within the instrument binnacle.
Should I buy one?
If you spend most of your time on road but seek a car capable of tackling the odd excursion off road, the Audi A4 Allroad 2.0 TDI makes pretty good sense. But perhaps you should wait for the eco tweaks to be fitted before you place your order.