What is it?
The Audi A4 Allroad, in what might be its optimal mechanical specification. The middle of three diesel-powered options, the 3.0-litre TDI 218 model gets you the relative smoothness of Audi’s six-cylinder TDI diesel engine, and the wider spread of torque that it provides, for less than £2000 more than the equivalent 2.0-litre TDI 190. And £2000 is, after all, less than what plenty of Audi customers have proven themselves willing to spend, in recent years, on a carbonfibre cigarette lighter, a stereo upgrade and indicators inspired by the cult televisual smash hits of the 1980s.
While the 2.0-litre petrol TFSI Allroad that provided our first impressions on the car last year has a new clutch-based four-wheel drive system dubbed ‘quattro Ultra’, the diesels stick with Audi’s more traditional centre-diff-based four-wheel drive system: older tech, but still the difference between ‘intelligent’ part-time and proper full-time four-wheel drive. If your jacked-up A4 is going to spend a significant amount of time on mud or grass, you might very well prefer the certainty of a centre differential to the efficiency gains of a clutch-based setup. I would.
Elsewhere on the spec sheet, the A4 Allroad still doesn’t quite offer the extra capability of its older soft-roading big brother, the A6 Allroad, although it is getting closer. Whereas you can have height-adjustable air suspension on an A6, the A4’s ride height is fixed, offering 34mm of additional ground clearance over a normal A4 Avant. The only way the smaller car’s suspension can be adjusted is if you get optional adaptive dampers.