The Audi A4 has only been around since 2008, but its fresh face doesn't mean it's immune from the competition's increasing talents. A revised range, which includes the go-anywhere allroad model driven here, shows the firm can still turn a few tricks.
In the Metal:
The allroad is much like the A4 Avant it's based on, which means the toughest A4 still retains the full-length Audi grille and trademark LED lights of the facelifted car. Avoid the body coloured bumper extensions though, as they make the model appear like a bloated A4 Avant rather than the rugged model it really is.
It's business as usual inside, with the new car benefitting from extra chrome and gloss black trim as well as additional colour and trim options. Quality is top-notch, and it's pretty roomy as an estate as well - even if it's not class leading.
If you only expect to use a car's off-road ability once or twice a year, then the A4 allroad is probably the perfect car for you. Within minutes of raising yourself into the driver's seat, you'll soon forget you're in anything other than a regular A4 Avant. Yes you sit a tiny bit higher, but no more so than in an A4 with the seat set at its highest position.
There's no extra roll in the bends either, and the steering, brakes and gearbox behave exactly as they do in the car it's based on. We didn't get the chance to take it off-road, but previous experience of the allroad would suggest that it will be more than capable of whatever is thrown at it. After all Audi is regarded as one of the forefathers of four-wheel drive, and the quattro system works just as well off as on-road.
Despite this all-terrain ability, straight line speed is scarcely affected. And although the allroad could never be considered a hot hatch, it shares its engine with the VW Golf GTI, so can still sprint from 0-100km/h in 6.8 seconds, continuing on until 230km/h (provided you're not on the rough stuff at the time). It's certainly a smooth and powerful unit, and though the diesel probably suits this car's character better, it feels a remarkably able package.
What you get for your Money:
Audi's famed quattro four-wheel drive is standard for a start, which will help you get out of a sticky situation. On top of that the allroad is pretty much as the rest of the A4 range, so although the cabin is well-screwed together you'll need to attack the options list if you want it to feel special, despite the list price.
That leaves you with a choice of kit that ranges from the (useful) Convenience Key offering keyless entry and starting to the (slightly ridiculous) in-car internet as well as the usual audio and trim upgrades.
Audi's quattro system first saw light on the 1980 Audi Quattro road car. Often referred to as the Ür-Quattro, the coupé went on to dominate the Group B rallying scene - and as a result the four-wheel drive system has taken the lowercase 'q' in homage to the original and its success. Early road cars are now collectors' items, so finding a good one is not only a tough task, but a pricey one as well.
With reasonable expectations (the allroad is no Land Rover Defender rival in the rough stuff) the Audi A4 allroad quattro proves to be pretty talented. For the five per cent of the year you ask it to tackle some muddy tracks it'll do so with aplomb, but more importantly the majority of the time it will behave just like a regular A4 - which has to be the best of both worlds.