What is it?
When Audi launched the A4 Allroad back in 2009, its positioning between the Avant quattro and Q5 seemed based on a wafer-thin strip of reasoning. In fact, the wafer was precisely 37mm thin: the difference in ride height between the Allroad and the standard A4 on which it was very obviously based. Unlike the A6 variant, which boasted the added adjustability of air springs, its smaller sibling’s steel suspension meant the off-road-enabling wafer was unchanging and enhanced only by the toughened-up appearance that came with some black plastic cladding on the bumpers and arches.
Too thin, you might think. But, as it is wont to do, Audi promptly turned minimal investment into maximum return and shifted around 100,000 examples of the original A4 Allroad. Its replacement, despite being almost entirely new, makes understandably few obvious changes to that winning formula. That its differentiated ride height has now slimmed to 23mm (compared to the current A6 Avant) suggests that buyers have not been overly concerned by limited approach and departure angles – although an increase in tyre sidewall size means there’s now 34mm of additional ground clearance, and Audi has added an Off-road mode to the drive select settings.
The new chassis is again based on the A4, which means it gets the manufacturer’s latest five-link suspension front and back. There’s still no air springs, but this time round there is at least the (likely popular) option of adaptive dampers. As with the cooking model, the Allroad is significantly lighter than its predecessor, despite being very slightly larger. As much as a 90kg drop in kerb weight helps a refreshed engine line-up deliver improved efficiency across the board.
The quattro set-up – still resolutely mechanical – is mated as standard to the 188bhp 2.0 TDI and both versions (215bhp and 268bhp) of the 3.0 TDI. However, with its new 248bhp 2.0 TFSI petrol engine, Audi has chosen to launch the next generation of its all-wheel drive system, a set-up conceived specifically to address the comparative inefficiency of the permanently active tech.
Dubbed Quattro with ultra technology, the new driveline ditches the centre differential and uses an electronically controlled clutch at the back of the dual-clutch automatic gearbox to disengage the propshaft, allowing the Allroad to run in fuel-sipping front-drive mode when a host of control units and software parameters think it appropriate to do so. The clever(er) bit is located at the back, where, in order to reduce the torque drag of turning a heavy-duty piece of metal idly through its oil bath, an electromagnetic decoupler simultaneously isolates the crown gear and lets the rear axle function just like an open differential. The result is a 2.0 TFSI that delivers 44.1mpg combined economy (on 17in wheels) and a 6.1sec 0-62mph sprint.