Each week our team of experienced senior road testers pick out a new model from the world of innovative, premium and performance badges, and put it through its paces.
SEP 04th 2017
The Goodwood Test: Audi A4 Allroad
There aren’t many cars whose name so perfectly encapsulates its purpose. Perhaps Volvo’s XC and Cross Country badging comes close (the former being a slightly bastardised contraction of Cross Country). Even sister company Volkswagen’s Alltrack doesn’t quite come as close as far as we’re concerned. The Allroad brand first launched back in 1999 ready to tackle, you guessed it, all roads. The concept was simple: a slightly raised ride-height coupled with permanent four-wheel-drive and some extra rubber (and steel) bits for protection, and the Audi A6 was ready to tackle anything a road could throw at it.
Come the B8 version of the smaller A4 sibling and that Allroad philosophy had translated to a second model, thus the Audi A4 Allroad entered the world. It continued the original formula of the A6 Allroad but chose a little more stainless steel for protection than pure rubber. Come this latest B9 version and the rubber is all but gone, now swathed in stainless steel front and read, but the rest of the philosophy remains.
The current generation A4 isn’t exactly lacking in the looks department. That upright grille has gradually evolved into an elegant hexagon, with the line of the multi-faceted headlights tracing into the upper limits of that chrome-furnished grille. Backwards from there and it’s very much as you would expect from an Audi estate, a tapered roof leading into a less-upright than its rivals rear. For the Allroad, the aforementioned stainless steel arrives to protect front and rear, with the A4’s traditional twin tailpipes slotting into the rear protection nicely (no fake built-in exhausts here).
The addition of stainless steel adds an extra touch of class but is tempered by the remaining amount of rubber (wheel arches, rear lower bumper, a small bit in the front bumper) which are supposed to remind you of the rugged nature of the Allroad, but in reality look slightly out of place. Inside is Audi’s all-singing all-dancing interior, including the now range-spanning multimedia dash. We know the score with this now, Audi has scooped all the infotainment from the centre console and stuck it in front of the driver to allow maximum control. The A4 still retains a residual screen between driver and passenger, and a much-slimmed down version of the MMI rotary controls, but the driver will barely need to look away from their dash.
Our car is fitted with the 2.0-litre TFSI turbocharged petrol unit, which is good for 249bhp (252PS) and 273lb ft of torque, which is all absolutely ample for pulling the Allroad out of nearly any situation. But the first thing you’ll notice about this refined petrol is the sheer silence. The A4 wafts along in apparent quiet unless you really ask it for some real performance, even then the noise could hardly be described as intrusive. It’s a refinement that suits the purpose of the Allroad: no one is buying this to hit the A272 will all their worth. No, they’re after a car that can take the whole family for a picnic, happily parking right next to the picnic tables, or lug gallons of garden waste down to the tip without anything being damaged. Therefore, the A4 Allroad is much softer round every possible edge than the standard A4, not that we’re complaining, it’ll waft you around quite happily without ever suffering from that clichéd complaint thrown at Audis of overly hard suspension.
It’s almost disingenuous to talk about passion in the normal sense when it comes to the A4 Allroad. This isn’t a car to set the pulse racing, to fire the loins of your local petrolhead or stir the blood of a youngster seeing it pass them on the street. No this is a passion for refined travelling, for top notch build quality and effortless carrying ability. The car that will scoop up your family, relatives, dog and sundry accompaniments and take you wherever you want to go. Literally down all roads.
Join our motorsport community
Get closer to motorsport at Goodwood! Join the GRRC Fellowship to be first in the queue for event tickets, to attend the GRRC-only Members' Meeting and to enjoy year-round, exclusive benefits.