"The Audi A4 Allroad quattro has some off-road ability, but it's easier to drive than a full-sized 4x4."
The Audi A4 Allroad quattro is a rugged-looking car and a chunkier take on the Audi A4 Avant. It's aimed firmly at those who need some off-road ability but who don’t want/need a full 4x4 of massive dimensions, yet offers suprisingly little compromise. It nicely blends the upmarket Avant estate with a 4x4's traction and jacked-up suspension to offer an even more practical driving experience – if, arguably, a less exciting one. You can only get it as an estate, and with a choice of three engines (one petrol, two diesels). You won’t find a BMW or Mercedes that is a direct competitor for the Allroad, but the Subaru Legacy Outback should appeal to the same kind of buyer.
MPG, running costs & CO2 emissions
There's no denying the Allroad will cost you more than the standard Audi A4 Avant to run. The A4 Allroad's 2.0-litre TFSI petrol engine paired with the S tronic automatic gearbox is the least efficient engine on offer, returning only 39.8mpg in combined fuel economy and emitting 164g/km of CO2, placing in tax band G (which will cost you £175 a year in road tax). You’ll be much better off going for one of the two diesels on offer, with only the 2.0-litre TDI coming with the manual gearbox to return 48.7mpg and emit 153g/km of CO2. Finally, the 3.0-litre TDI only comes with the automatic so will return 45.6mpg and emit 161g/km, but is still more efficient than the petrol.
Interior & comfort
If lots of space and a high-quality interior that's beautifully finished are what define comfort for you, then you’re going to love the A4 Allroad. It's certainly better than the Volvo XC70 in terms of comfort and the inside is world's better that Subaru Legacy Outback. You get multi-adjustable seats that give lots of support over long-distance drives, while two adults can sit comfortably in the back – with good leg, shoulder and headroom. It's also nicely free of intrusive wind, road or engine noise, with only some engine rumble audible if accelerating hard. There's a nice three-zone climate control that makes the interior very hospitable for everyone – and you can get heated seats as an optional extra if you like a toasty bum on cold winter nights behind the wheel.
Practicality & boot space
Inside, the A4 Allroad offers a lot of space and a very practical interior that's easy to get in and out of. Passenger space is generally good, with plenty of legroom in the back compared to many of its rivals. The boot offers a decent 490 litres of space with the standard-fit split-fold rear seats in place, which expands to a generous 1,430 litres when they’re folded down. However, the seats don’t lie down flat, so loading large or bulky items can be a tricker as a result. There's a range of handy load retention straps and bars available as an optional extras, which prove useful for keeping your shopping and luggage in place and stops it from rolling around in the large boot. It's main practical asset, however, is its off-road capability, which can traverse muddy roads easily thanks to its standard four-wheel drive. This gives it lots of grip and helps make it a great towing vehicle.
Reliability & safety
The standard Audi A4 continued its descent down the Driver Power customer satisfaction survey's list of top 100 cars in 2013, dropping a further 16 places from its 2012 rank of 60th to land at 76 with reliability being one of its poorest areas, but that's what you would expect for any car that's been around since 2007. The Allroad itself doesn’t feature because it's not bought in big enough numbers to qualify for the survey. Audi actually managed to climb up places in the survey's manufacturers rankings to re-enter the top 10 – admittedly at 10, but still not bad. Let's hope this is the start of a consistent upward trend and is an end to the insistent yo-yoing up and down of the chart in recent years. It is, as you’d expect from Audi, a safe car, securing the maximum five-star rating in the Euro NCAP crash safety tests, coming with electronic stability control (ESP), driver and passenger airbags and anti-lock brakes (ABS) as standard.
Engines, drive & performance
Although the A4 Allroad is taller and less efficient than the standard car, it doesn't really feel any different to drive. You do get a better view of the road ahead thanks to the higher suspension, but there is noticeably more body roll when driving through the corners. However, its suspension is much better at handling potholes and bumps than the standard car, ironing out most of the UK's rough roads with relative ease. This model is actually aimed at anyone who regularly tows a caravan or heavy trailer across muddy terrain, so we’d recommend getting the A4 Allroad with a manual gearbox. You only to get to choose between three engines – 2.0-litre and 3.0-litre TDI diesels and a 2.0-litre TFSI turbo petrol. The 2.0-litre TDI is by far the biggest seller, thanks to its excellent performance and above-average fuel economy, as well as being the cheapest model in the range.
Price, value for money & options
You need to be sure that the Allroad's rugged exterior style and off-road ability are what you really want before you buy, because you’re going to pay an expensive premium compared to the standard A4 Avant. Even the most basic entry-level car is more expensive than the Audi Q5 SUV. It's also more expensive than rivals from Subaru and Volkswagen – but it is worth bearing in mind that the Audi badge means that it will have stronger resale value on the used car market when it comes time to make a second-hand deal.