First off all, let's get a little history lesson out of the way.
In the late 1990s, Audi took its A6 Avant quattro and turned it into a crossover vehicle. It did it in exactly the same way as, say, Subaru with its Legacy wagon when it created the Outback.
In essence, the crossover project involved taking a standard A6 Avant, beefing up the suspension a little, jacking up the ground clearance to about 200mm, adding some body-protection moulding in and around the vehicle's undersides, and voila - a crossover vehicle Audi called A6 allroad. Not Allroad, but allroad. The lower-case lettering was important, said Audi, just like you would never capitalise quattro.
Of course everyone promptly began calling the car the Audi Allroad, but that was OK, because by then the motoring public understood what the allroad concept was all about.
Now, there's a new-generation model in New Zealand, and it's a beauty.
Powered by the same 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel as that under the bonnet of the Q3 and with a seven-speed twin clutch transmission, it offers lovely performance at all speeds while achieving a nicely low average fuel consumption of 6 litres per 100 kilometres.
The allroad is a little bit slow off the mark - even though the time to 100kmh is still 8.1 seconds, which is pretty good - and it's primarily I suppose because it has a kerb weight of more than 1700kg, which is quite heavy for a vehicle this size, but once it is up and running, the typical flexibility of the turbodiesel comes to the fore.
Naturally, the overall performance isn't up to this Audi's bigger sibling, the A6 allroad, but it is very good all the same. In fact, slip the transmission into Sport mode and use it manually and the vehicle offers considerably punch. Handling is very good too, to the extent that it beats the pants off any equivalent sport utility vehicle .
For starters, the A4 allroad has slightly wider front and rear tracks than the equivalent A4 Avant to compensate for its 37mm extra ride height. It also has what is known as torque vectoring control, an electronic system that applies the brakes to various wheels to help during cornering.
When speeds are high and there are corners to negotiate, the allroad also has its ASR traction control system to help keep things under control, and, of course, it is all-wheel-drive.
What's likeable about this A4 allroad is that it is a medium-sized vehicle that fills a gap between a standard wagon and an SUV. Not everyone wants the full-on offroader style of the SUV, but still appreciates something with the requisite higher ride height that is more appropriate for motoring off the seal.
The allroad provides all of this.
Its ride height is just under 200mm, the wheel arches are bulkier and protected from the scratches and dings that often come from bashing through a bit of bush, and the vehicle also has stainless-steel bash plates front and rear. Yet it retains a wonderful ability to operate as a very agile luxury wagon on the seal. Very appealing.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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