The Audi A4 Allroad is a convincing alternative to an SUV
What is it?
The Allroad recipe is a relatively simple one, yet it’s remarkably effective for Audi. It starts with taking the standard A4 estate, jacking it up a few centimetres, adding some painted plastic around the wheelarches, and voila.
Audi has been quietly letting its Allroads bubble away in Audi showrooms for 20 years now, with the concept of a rugged-looking estate being drafted in 1999 when the German firm launched the A6 Allroad. A decade later, the robust treatment was extended to the A4.
It’s an idea that other manufacturers have cottoned on to at an alarming rate – just look at Ford and the success it’s having with its ‘Active’ models, which are jacked-up hatchbacks.
But with Audi already having swathes of SUVs, where does a rugged estate slot into the German firm’s extensive line-up?
The Allroad adopts the same changes seen on the facelifted A4, meaning it comes with a larger front grille, new LED lights with their own signature pattern and a new trim level – the range-topping Vorsprung. But one key highlight is the car’s new 10.1-inch touchscreen, which replaces the smaller screen fitted to the last car. It’s also good riddance to the previous A4’s rotary dial in the centre console of the car –this system is controlled by touch or buttons on the steering wheel.
Revised 18-inch alloy wheels, new painted extended wheel arches and an extended off-road package also help to differentiate the updated A4 Allroad from the standard A4 Avant (estate).
What’s under the bonnet?
From launch, there is just one engine offered in the Allroad – a 2.0-litre TFSI petrol engine badged as 45 TFSI.
It’s currently the punchiest engine in the range outside of the S4. With 242bhp and 370Nm of torque, it packs a decent punch. Audi claims it can accelerate from 0-60mph in just 5.9 seconds and reach a top speed of 154mph. That’s not bad for a comfort-spec estate car with next to no performance intentions.
Allroad models come as standard with quattro all-wheel-drive, with power delivered by a seven-speed S tronic automatic transmission. The gearbox is smooth, but there’s a small delay in power delivery under hard acceleration, which isn’t ideal.
This engine is not the most efficient, though, as it returns a claimed 35.3mpg, along with CO2 emissions of 155g/km. However, a pair of cleaner diesel engines, which are expected later in the year, will likely make the Allroad a more compelling option to high-mileage drivers.
What’s it like to drive?
With drivers flocking to high-riding SUVs, this can often be at the expense of a good driving experience.
But despite the Allroad being a high-riding estate car, it handles surprisingly well being thrown into sharp corners. But on a family-aimed model, such as this, it’s refinement and comfort that are important.
The Allroad’s soft suspension setup equates to a comfortable ride, although something sportier can be had by switching the driving modes. That said, leaving it in the ‘Comfort’ setting is all most will ever need. At higher speeds, the Allroad is also hushed, with little wind or road noise being heard from the cabin.
We didn’t get the chance to put the Allroad through its paces away from tarmac, although a dedicated ‘offroad’ setting (part of the standard Audi Drive Select feature) will prove useful to those who like to head off the beaten track.
How does it look?
With rugged looks being all the rage with new car buyers, the A4 Allroad offers plenty of appeal to SUV-savvy consumers.
The increase in ride height of 35mm over the regular A4 Avant will appeal more, but it can’t quite offer the security of the high driving position you find in a proper SUV, such as the Audi Q5.
Elsewhere the Allroad gains its own new radiator grille and grey 18-inch alloy wheels, which are both unique to this model. It also gets underbody protection, extended side sills and extended wheel arches, which make a nice change from the cheap-looking plastic cladding on most SUVs.
Further aluminum and gloss black detailing also makes the Allroad stand out well next to the standard A4 Avant.
What’s it like inside?
The interior of the A4 Allroad is as Audi as it gets – safe, premium and classy.
The quality is typically superb, with upmarket materials gracing the majority of the cabin – most noticeably with the full leather interior.
Big advances have also been made when it comes to technology – particularly with the aforementioned 10.1-inch touchscreen. This is a standard feature on all A4s, and it’s not only easy to use but also helps the cabin feel fresh and modern. Paired with the 12.3-inch digital Virtual Cockpit system, the A4 Allroad’s cabin feels a class above its rivals’ interiors.
And given the Allroad is based on the already-practical A4 Avant, neither rear seat nor boot space will be a disappointment.
What’s the spec like?
Two trim levels are offered on the Allroad – Sport and Vorsprung.
The ‘entry-level’ Sport comes with just about all the kit most will ever need – including leather upholstery, heated seats, LED headlights and three-zone climate control, to name but a few features. The cheapest Allroad currently costs from £45,500, but with a pair of diesel engines on the way, it may become more affordable. It’s still quite a jump in price over the standard A4, though.
The Vorsprung is a lot more expensive – £10,000 more so, in fact. This adds Matrix LED headlights, a panoramic sunroof, a head-up display, ambient interior lighting and electric front seats. If you crave having as many goodies as possible, the Vorsprung is worth considering, but at £55,500, it’s simply too expensive to recommend.
The A4 Allroad feels like the right car at the right time – given the popularity of SUVs and the trend towards off-road inspired versions of standard cars. Its looks and raised ride height will undoubtedly appeal to those in the market for a rugged-looking estate.
However, you have to ask yourself how often that extra dose of off-road ability will actually be used. If it’s regularly, the Allroad should be your choice. But if not, sticking with the regular A4 Avant will be a better option for most. Given most Avant variants come with quattro all-wheel-drive anyway, greater engine and trim choice and a more affordable price, that car seems more appealing.