The most powerful engine in the range comes with plenty of zip

What is it?

It’s a sign that, if Audi sees even half a niche, it’s going to do whatever it can to fill it. Just as it has done with the latest A6 Allroad, the A4 Allroad is designed to squeeze into the tiny crack between the A4 estate and the Q5 soft-roader.

This one is the strongest of the range, with the 3.0-litre TDI crunching out 369lb ft – effortlessly.

What’s it like?

It’s a lot like an A4 Avant 3.0 TDI, but it has a much better ride.

The beauty of this engine is that, while it’s strong enough to dominate proceedings, it only ever breaks out the muscle when you ask it to.

It’s very smooth at idle and on part-throttle acceleration, and it’s a comfortably quiet companion most of the time. Ask it for all it’s got and the V6 will become more urgent, pushing a full 369lb ft from 1500 to 3000rpm, before running through an uncivilized gruff patch between 4300 and 4600 revs.

That’s easily avoided, however, because with the double-clutch gearbox offering seven gears, there’s usually a taller one that lets you get back into the torque band again. And it seems no slower that way.

The shifts and the throttle response feel much sharper in the car’s ‘Dynamic’ mode, which holds the shorter gears for longer and downshifts crisply under braking. But it’s not its forte. Just leave it in ‘Drive’ and let the incredible in-gear flexibility do all the work. All that, and only 39.8mpg.

The suspension seems somehow more holistically organized than the standard A4. Longer springs and stronger dampers give it 26mm more wheel travel at the front and the steering feel doesn’t lose anything much from the change, largely because it didn’t have much to lose anyway.

With 180mm of clearance, it’s picked up only 40mm on the A4 Estate, which is among Audi’s funny ideas for a soft-roader. For example, on our test, its executives defended the lower part of the doors, which collect mud from the 17-inch tyres and swipe it on your calves with every entry or exit, because they say people won’t drive it in muddy conditions. How odd.

It has some trick tech, like the off-road software tucked away inside its ESP computer which lets it have a bit of wheelspin when it’s chasing traction on loose surfaces, and gives the ABS some lock-up ability to build up a dirt buffer in front of the tyres.

The interior is also generous by most standards, though some cheap materials have crept in on places like the door grips.

Should I buy one?

This depends on what you want. If you want the best of the A4 Allroads, you are: a) in a very small club and, b) best off in the 2.0-litre TDI. But there will be moments in tall gears when it won’t be strong enough, which is where this one comes in.

If you want the best and strongest engine in an A4 estate with the best ride quality, then the A4 Allroad fits the bill – for reasons that seem more by accident than design. It’s the most comfortable of all the A4 3.0-litre TDIs you can find.

Michael Taylor

Join the debate

Add a comment…
timmmmy 8 April 2009

Re: Audi A4 Allroad 3.0 TDI

If it was my money I wouldnt bother, instead I would buy a bigger used A6 with the same engine and spec and save the money!

Daudi 5 April 2009

Re: Audi A4 Allroad 3.0 TDI

I totally agree. A car like the A4 Allroad or even a Citroen C5 makes perfect sense for countries like Kenya where our roads are....challenging. Anything that has a great ride to deal with our frankly shocking potholes but still has enough ground clearance to go over bumps, into potholes and over the odd kerb without leaving half your mechanical components for the scrap metal dealers makes perfect sense. Not all petrolheads live in a fantasy world of autobahns and autoroutes. Some of us do actually live in the "third world" ( a frankly offensive term!!) and still want to drive a decent car.

Lee23404 5 April 2009

Re: Audi A4 Allroad 3.0 TDI

fuzzybear wrote:
ok show me a french car thats as good nowadays, everybody seems to have rosetinted glassed about the past

Any Citroen C5 (including those on steel springs) or C6 has a better ride than any Audi, A8 included. It's about time manufacturers realise that some of us like to arrive at our destinations relaxed and with our spines intact. Audi are one of the worst offenders. If they actualy had decent handling (RS4 R8 aside) to go with the spine shattering ride I could understand it but they don't.

As for the Allroad, in general I quite like it. No particular reason, it makes no sense to me at all but it's a bit different from the usual Audi drizzle so I'll give it the thums up.