Like other Allroad models, you won't notice any big changes from behind the wheel - the interior is virtually identical to any other A4 in the range. Everything feels impeccably constructed, the rotary dial-controlled infotainment system is a doddle to use and the interior's design looks good, in a minimalistic German way.
The view of the road isn't any different, either. Between subtly lifted suspension and tyres with a taller sidewall, there’s just 34mm of extra ground clearance when compared to a standard A4 Avant.
Yet start driving and the A4 Allroad reveals a character that’s quite different to the Avant that it's based on. While that car is certainly no uber-firm handling machine, the Allroad feels a bit softer over crests and compressions.
The ride isn't wallowy, but you do feel more vertical movement than you’d get in the conventional Avant. At speed, the Allroad is actually rather pleasant, giving the car a relaxed gait that suits long distance journeys.
However, over rougher surfaces with sharp-edged obstacles, the A4 Allroad doesn’t feel anywhere near as pillowy. It’s never crashy, but you get jostled around far more than you’d expect. Given the relatively small 17in wheels with the fattest sidewalls we’ve seen on a road car for some time, this is disappointing. Adaptive dampers are an option, but our experience suggests that they aren’t worth the additional £900.
As you’d expect, the handling isn’t as keen as in a regular Avant. While the Allroad still doesn't lean over too much in bends, there's noticeably more body roll, and the steering isn’t quite as precise, either. The handling balance is very nose-led, but you certainly feel the torque being sent rearwards coming out of slow corners, especially in slippery conditions.
The engine feels brisk enough for the majority of situations. It's urgent enough under part-throttle loads and quick enough to carry out safe overtakes without needing too much of a gap. It’s also very refined for a four-cylinder diesel, with barely any vibration coming through the controls and little engine noise to hear inside. Ultimately, though, the 215bhp 3.0 TDI V6 engine is even smoother and barely any more expensive to run.