Audi A4 Allroad long-term test review
These days it can feel like every other car is an SUV, but the A4 Allroad is a more distinctive choice that promises many of the same strengths. We've added one to our long-term fleet to see if i...
- The car: Audi A4 Allroad 3.0 TDI 218 quattro Sport
- Run by: Alan Taylor-Jones, new cars editor
- Why it’s here: To see if a practical family holdall with moderate off-road ability doesn’t have to be an SUV
- Needs to: Provide good long-distance comfort and SUV versatility, while being refined, comfortable and frugal
Price £42,945 Price as tested £52,805 Miles 2252 Official economy 55.4mpg Test economy 40.6mpg Options fitted Technology pack (£1395), parking assistance pack (£1350), comfort and sound pack (£1295), electrically adjustable front seats with driver’s memory (£950), damping control (£900), folding towbar (£850), 19in alloy wheels (£750), front sports seats in Milano leather (£750), Matrix LED headlights (£650), Quantum grey solid paint (£645) and folding door mirrors with auto-dimming and memory function (£325).
13 August 2018 – the Audi A4 Allroad joins our fleet
Do you remember when buyers of chunky SUVs stood out from those purchasing regular cars? With high rooflines, big wheels and aggressive styling, the SUV seemed to be the perfect thing to differentiate yourself on the school run, in the office car park or when tootling along the M25.
Of course, we all know what happened next. With everyone wanting a high-rise driving position and at least the appearance of being able to go anywhere, the SUV has become a victim of its own success, now proving more common than traditional saloons and estates.
So, when it was time to pick my shiny new long car, I decided not to follow the crowd and to instead take another look at the good old family wagon, albeit one with a twist – the Audi A4 Allroad.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Allroad, it’s basically an A4 Avant (or estate in Audi speak) that’s been raised by 34mm thanks to taller suspension and bigger tyres, given some butch off-roadery styling and fitted with quattro four-wheel drive as standard. That makes it more capable off the beaten track than the majority of SUVs that are effectively front-wheel drive hatchbacks sat on booster cushions. And seeing as I live more than 50 miles from the office, in the Sussex Downs, where we had more than just a dusting of snow during the first few months of the year, four-wheel drive could come in rather handy.
While I’ll admit there are larger and more practical estate cars out there – especially for the asking price of the Allroad – its relatively compact size is a boon when I find myself working in our Twickenham main office. Not only is it handy for squeezing through narrow gaps in traffic, it makes parking in the ancient multi-storey car park with its tight turns and tiddly spaces a far less stressful experience.
When it came to the specifics for my long termer, deciding the engine was easy. I was blown away by the smoothness and efficiency of the 3.0-litre diesel unit in the A4 saloon that editor Steve Huntingford ran a couple of years back, so it was the natural choice for my car.
Picking Allroad Sport trim was also a no-brainer because it adds plenty of useful equipment to the already well-kitted regular Allroad. On top of three-zone climate control, front and rear parking sensors, heated leather seats, an electric tailgate and a 7.0in infotainment system with smartphone connectivity, Sport brings sat-nav, electrically adjustable lumbar support, LED front and rear lights and acoustic glazing for the front windows for even quieter cruising manners.
So, plenty of equipment then? Well, I couldn’t help but add the Technology pack for wireless smartphone charging, a bigger 8.3in infotainment screen and the 12.3in Vitrual Cockpit digital instruments. Then there’s the Comfort and Sound pack for a rear-view camera, keyless entry and a thumping 19-speaker B&O sound system and electric front seats with memory.
For maximum comfort I’ve added adaptive dampers, which meant I could then add gorgeous 19in Y-spoke wheels without ruining the ride. The icing on the cake is the stunning Quantum grey paint. All in all, I’ve added nearly £10,000 worth of options. Whoops.
Even if you don’t spend the equivalent of an entry-level Dacia Duster on extra kit, the Allroad is a fantastic place to spend a few hours. The clean, simple lines of the interior are constructed from plush materials while all the displays have razor-sharp graphics.
This may sound a little odd, but I’m happy that I’ll be adjusting the climate control and operating the infotainment with physical controls rather than by jabbing at a touchscreen. With more and more cars (including many new Audis) banishing buttons from their interiors, simple controls that can be operated without looking at them are a welcome change. Sometimes the established methods of doing something can’t be beaten.
Driving impressions from the first few hundred miles are also far very promising. The engine is about as quiet as diesels come and has plenty of power for overtaking slower moving traffic. It’s also impressively frugal; only the most leaden of right feet will get the fuel economy to drop below 40mpg.
True, the big wheels make the low-speed ride a little fractious, but at motorway speeds the Allroad wafts along like a proper luxury car. Long-distance journeys should be a breeze, especially after I found the car came with some choice albums already loaded into the infotainment system’s hard drive. Clearly someone in the Audi PR team is also a fan of Black Sabbath. Whoever you are, thank you.
I certainly look forward to getting to know my new long termer, and it appears I’m not the only one. With colleagues already eyeing the Allroad up for their summer holidays, I’ll be lucky to spend much time in it before October.