Review and road test of the Audi A4 Allroad (2016 - 2022)

ALLROADS LEAD TO AUDI

By Jonathan Crouch

Introduction

If you're looking for a premium-badged compact executive estate and like the idea of an all-wheel drive Audi A4 Avant with extra road presence and enhanced ability in slippery conditions, then the German's brand's second generation A4 allroad model could well appeal. It'll also suit those who appreciate the virtues of a plush mid-sized premium SUV but don't really like the thought of being seen in one. There are certainly more affordable and more capable SUV-orientated estates in this segment. But there are few more desirable ones.

Models

5dr Estate (2.0 TFSI petrol / 3.0 TFSI petrol / 2.0 TDI, 3.0 TDI))

History

Buying an SUV always smacks of using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. It's fair enough to want your family car to be able to tackle snowy roads, muddy carparks and icy February country back doubles, but is it really necessary to buy something capable of crossing the Serengeti to do it? Of course, most modern 4x4s would get stuck fairly early on into your average desert, but they still carry far more technology than is required to cope with such modest expectations. Which is why a car like this one, Audi's second generation A4 allroad, would seem to make a lot more sense. Audi's allroad concept was always pretty straightforward. Take one of their standard quattro all-wheel drive Avant estates, then give it a bit of extra ride height and some body cladding to protect the bodywork (or more likely, to remind the neighbours what you've bought). That and a few electronic tweaks are enough to make the car suitable for mild off road use. We're not talking about rock-strewn mountainsides or extreme wilderness river crossings here but the kind of unmade roads and muddy tracks that owners might encounter and which might damage an unmodified vehicle. Audi has been perfecting the concept since the turn of the century, initially with the large A6 allroad model that took on large Executive sector offroad estates like Volvo's XC70. Clever height-adjustable air suspension always made that A6 surprisingly able on the rough stuff but this slightly more compact A4 allroad model didn't need it in the wider, slightly more affordable sector of the market where it sat. Here, it was a plusher alternative to tough all-wheel drive estates like Subaru's Forester and Volkswagen's Passat Alltrack and had a heritage going back to the original A4 allroad model, launched back in 2009. Over 100,000 examples of that car were sold, a number large enough to prompt Audi into taking a bit more trouble with this second generation version, launched in mid-2016. There was still no air suspension or any sort of real wilderness capability but a few key changes did allow this car to meet its limited remit a little more capably. For example, there was more suspension travel and an 'Off Road' mode you could activate in the 'drive select' system that focuses the electronics for 'off piste' use. Perhaps more significantly, this car got a completely new on-demand 'quattro with ultra technology' 4WD system that was significantly more efficient than the old permanently activated set-up. Plus on top of this, customers also got all the impressive technology of the fifth generation A4 Avant model this allroad variant was based upon, that car granting this one lighter weight, a classier cabin and hi-tech media connectivity. The MK2 allroad was facelifted along with the rest of the A4 range in 2019. And in that updated form, sold until mid-2022.

What You Get

You can see why quite a few A4 Avant buyers opted to find the relatively small premium necessary to upgrade themselves into an A4 allroad model. It obviously wasn't to go off road: Audi rightly reckoned that hardly any of them would ever do that. Instead, the allure has much to do with image. The aesthetic changes made to create this allroad bodystyle may be subtle, but they're undeniably effective in giving this car a little more streetside presence. Raising the tailgate reveals that this MK2 A4 allroad model's extra 25mm of length has freed up 15-litres more boot space than was on offer with the previous generation model, the total rising to 505-litres. That figure still left this Audi some way short of potential rivals like Volkswagen's Passat Alltrack and Subaru's Forester, but it was significantly more than original buyers could get from other class competitors like Volvo's V60 Cross Country and Peugeot's 508 RXH. A4 allroad buyers needing more space will value the versatility of a 40:20:40 split-folding rear backrest, the centre part of which is very useful if you need to carry longer items like skis. Flattening the seat reveals up to 1,510-litres of space, plus there are the usual optional rail systems and load organisers. There's no additional carriage capacity beneath the boot floor, but that's because, refreshingly, Audi provided you with a spare wheel, rather than one of those irritating tyre inflation kits. The exterior of this car may have been subtly adorned with rugged styling cues, but there are few of these to be found inside. Instead, there's lots of vulnerable carpet, leather and decorative aluminium that's going to be a long way from practical if you plan on regularly loading in muddy dogs and children. Still, we think it unlikely that many potential buyers will mind very much. Quite the contrary in fact. As ever with Audi, it's the at-the-wheel experience that'll probably really sell you this car. The Ingolstadt brand isn't as far ahead of its rivals as it used to be in terms of interior ambiance but this remains the defining cabin in its class from its period, with surprising headroom, a wraparound design and a premium feeling of space and safety. The optional 'Virtual Cockpit' that most original buyers chose replaces the entire instrument binnacle with a 12.3-inch LCD colour monitor and has a layout that's fully digital and customisable, with smart 3D graphics and highly detailed effects. Anything this set-up can't tell you will almost certainly be covered by the slimline MMI infotainment display that dominates the top of the dashboard. It's 7-inches in size on standard models - or 8.3-inches if the original buyer opted for the top 'MMI Navigation Plus with MMI touch' system, with its crisp 3D maps and responsive Nvidia graphics. And in the rear? Well once inside, you ought in theory to quickly notice the benefit of the extra 12mm of wheelbase length this MK2 model A4 allroad enjoys over its predecessor. Audi said there was 23mm more legroom in the back than there was before but to be frank, it doesn't feel that much bigger. Still, three adults are very rarely carried at the back of this kind of car and two will be as comfortable as it's possible to be in a compact executive estate model of this sort.

What to Look For

Most owners in our survey seemed happy. The most reported faults related to interior trim and non-engine electricals. It's unlikely that this allroad model will have been used seriously off road but just in case, look out for bodywork scrapes and kerb damage to the large alloys. We've had some reports of issues with wear to the side bolsters of the leather seats, as well as squeaking front brake pads, so it's worth looking out for both of those. There were a few issues with the car's infotainment system, with phones not connecting properly and flickering screens being the main problem. Rattling parcel shelves and buzzing interior trims were also reported. The DSG automatic gearbox should be checked to make sure it's had a regular oil and filter change, as should the quattro four-wheel-drive system. Many A4 allroads will have been company or lease cars and, as a result, you should check the condition of the bodywork carefully. The high-quality fit and finish of an A4 also makes it an ideal candidate for clocking, so ensure the history is absolutely verified. There were three manufacturer recalls on the A4, all for models built before December 2016. One concerns a potential seat backrest fault, one was for seatbelt pre-tensioners and airbags and a third affected TFSI engine coolant pumps.

Replacement Parts

(approx based on an A4 allroad 2.0 TDI 190PS (2015) - Ex Vat) An air filter costs in the £44 bracket. An oil filter costs around £13. A fuel filter is around £37. Front brake pads sit in the £90 to £130 bracket for a set; for a rear set, it's around £57. Front brake discs sit in the £77 bracket; for a rear pair, you're looking at around £110. A thermostat costs around £105 and a water pump is around £108.

On the Road

This MK2 A4 allroad model sits 34mm higher from the ground than an ordinary A4 Avant. The extra ride height is there to allow for 23mm of extra suspension travel, which means that off road, unmade tracks with large bumps can be taken more easily in this Audi's stride. The lack of the kind of adaptable air suspension you'd find on the larger A6 allroad model means that you wouldn't want to attempt anything more challenging than that in this car. Keep this model in its off road comfort zone though and it's reasonably capable, helped by an extra 'offroad' mode in the standard 'drive select' driving dynamics system that focuses all of the electronic systems for 'off piste' use and keeps the car permanently in four wheel drive. That fact is quite pertinent actually because one of the main things you need to know about this A4 allroad's new 'quattro with ultra technology' 4WD system is that normally, it isn't always powering all four wheels. By 2015, Audi had moved to 'on-demand' functionality for its quattro set-up, this system cleverer than others in that it can 'predict' the need for 4WD activation, based on road conditions and your driving style. On to engines, all of which are mated to auto transmission in the A4 allroad range. From launch, there was a single 190PS 2.0 TFSI petrol option, but most buyers will opt for a diesel. Probably the 2.0-litre TDI 190PS variant, attractive because it can return up to 57.6mpg n the combined cycle and up to 128g/km of CO2 (both NEDC figures). Alternatively, there's a couple of 3.0 V6 TDI options developing either 218PS or 272PS, this latter variant getting its own more sophisticated 8-speed tiptronic auto gearbox.

Overall

In theory, this second generation A4 allroad is little more than a jacked-up A4 Avant quattro. In practice though, it feels so much more than that. Why? Well the cosmetic upgrades certainly play their part. And on the move, the improved ride quality further helps to give this model its own more unique feel. It all means that if you were going to buy a plusher A4 Avant anyway and your dealer pointed out that for very little more, you could have one of these, we think you'd find the proposition hard to resist. In summary, this second generation A4 allroad is much more of a model in its own right than its predecessor ever was. If you want the occasional benefits of better ground clearance and off road traction without the usual clunky dynamic downsides. If you can do without the image, expense and bulk of a fully-fledged SUV. And if, in summary, you want to make a sensible lifestyle statement, then here's a solution that's very thorough. Very sophisticated. And very Audi.

Audi A4 Allroad (2016 - 2022) review by Jonathan Crouch

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Overview

Car review: Audi A4 Allroad (2016 - 2022)
Manufacturer:Audi
Model:Audi A4 Allroad (2016 - 2022)
Category:Estate-based 4x4s
Rating:8 out of 10

Gallery

Car review: Audi A4 Allroad (2016 - 2022)
Car review: Audi A4 Allroad (2016 - 2022)
Car review: Audi A4 Allroad (2016 - 2022)
Car review: Audi A4 Allroad (2016 - 2022)
Car review: Audi A4 Allroad (2016 - 2022)
Car review: Audi A4 Allroad (2016 - 2022)
Car review: Audi A4 Allroad (2016 - 2022)
Car review: Audi A4 Allroad (2016 - 2022)
Car review: Audi A4 Allroad (2016 - 2022)

Scores

Performace:
80%
Handling:
80%
Comfort:
70%
Space:
70%
Styling:
90%
Build:
90%
Value:
60%
Equipment:
80%
Economy:
70%
Depreciation:
70%
Performace:
70%
Total:
75%