Words & Photos: Kevin C. Limjoco
There are actually two models of Audi allroad quattro: one based on the A4 and the other the larger A6. In North America, only the A4-based model is offered. Audi calls its own unique model range the “allroad quattro” in deliberate small case font for additional intrigue. Audi are experts in breaking new ground in order to aggressively create sales. They have been perennial third placers behind Mercedes-Benz and BMW as a whole but they do have truly outstanding products that triumph over their mighty competition. Audi already has a huge family tree of current models, but they recognized an interesting niche. First in 1999 with the A6 range, and then in 2009 with the smaller A4 range, both with the same basic principles of offering a raised all-wheel-drive 5-seater semi-off-road wagon with unique body cladding/features that would slot in between the full SUV’s and sedans.
The first Audi allroad that we tested was an A6 back in the Italian Alps in 2006, and it was a handsome, very quiet, and versatile all-rounder that we felt best suited the European market where all its capabilities could be explored properly up until 230 km/h; beyond that it would get clumsy. Under more normal driving conditions though, an allroad quattro is a compelling argument. They are more spacious and more comfortable than their standard sedan and wagon counterparts combined with better visibility and extra abilities like fording 300 mm of water and climbing more aggressive soft trails to get to more optimal hiking grounds. The new allroad, much like its predecessors, are fitted with an advanced height-adjustable air suspension for additional ground clearance, more rugged tires on oversized wheels to improve off-pavement grip, and use unpainted flared fenders and bumpers for both aesthetics and rough use.
Our test unit did have most of the options installed like the panoramic roof and Bi-Xenon headlights but it did not have the 14-speaker 505-watt Bang & Olufsen sound system, which I so wanted to try out. In the smaller A4 platform, I can’t shake the idea that this model would appeal to consumers who would love SAAB over a Volvo, and would appreciate a more peculiar car that is not an obvious choice. Our test unit was hardly a slouch, in fact, the allroad was really fun to toss around especially off-road, within reason though as it is only 2 inches taller than the sedan and still 7 inches lower than a Q5. Since the allroad quattro is essentially an A4 with short heels, a slightly wider track, and uses the very same quattro permanent all-wheel drive system that uses a mechanical center differential with a 40:60 rear bias ratio (when necessary, the quattro permanent all-wheel drive can route up to 65 % of power to the front or as much as 85 % toward the rear), the Audi Q5 is still the better solution.
The new allroad and Q5 both share Volkswagen Group’s Modularer Längsbaukasten chassis, identical 2.0-liter turbo engines, and the same quattro drivetrain too. They drive almost identically except that the Q5 is heavier by roughly 180 pounds and considerably taller yet has a better drag coefficient of .33cd compared to the allroad’s .36cd., and has an even wider track. The Q5 has more ground clearance, more overall comfort and standard features, more interior room, and more luggage space. But there will be active lifestyle folks who will love the new allroad for sure and would be willing to pay $3,000.00 more than the equivalent Q5; the same people who buy the Subaru Outback and pine for the old SAAB days of quirky yet characterful cars.
Engine: Inline-4, 1984 cc, dohc 16V, Direct Injection Intercooled Turbo, VVT, 8-speed AT
Max power: 220 bhp @ 4450-6000 rpm
Max torque: 258 lb ft @ 1500-4300 rpm
0-100 km/h (0-62mph): 6.7 sec.
Top Speed: 210 km/h (130 mph) Governed
Fuel Mileage: 20 mpg City / 27 mpg Highway
Price as tested: US$ 47,245.00
+Unique and uncommon, punchy, fabulously compliant and comfortable, versatile
-May be too peculiar, the Q5 makes more general sense for less money
Editor’s rating: 9.5/10