2017 Audi A4 Allroad quattro Road Test Review

2017 Audi A4 Allroad 2.0 TFSI Quattro Technik Road Test Review


The enviro-conscious adventurer amongst crossover SUVs

Audi's Allroad taps into a unique niche of premium consumers that want the taller ride height of an SUV yet won't compromise high-speed handling one iota, the result being a muscled up sport wagon that's as big on style as it is performance. The Allroad is also more efficient than a regular SUV, which in turn has less impact on Mother Nature. Without doubt this select group of enviro-conscious adventurers will be thrilled to know the all-new 2017 A4 Allroad remains true to the originator's best of both world's philosophy, plus it's better than the outgoing model in every way. 

New styling delivers strong visual impact

It starts with a much more assertive front end adapted from the A4 sedan that's also completely redesigned for 2017, which itself pulled a number of styling cues from last year's trés cool TT sports coupe and convertible. Key design elements include a larger and more acutely angled hexagonal grille, new scalloped headlights with standard HID projectors or as-tested full LEDs surrounded by squared-off LED DRLs, a sharply detailed multi-element lower front fascia with reworked corner vents, a fresh set of LED turn signal-integrated side mirrors, a familiarly arcing rooftop with de rigueur roof rails, an elegant duo of LED taillights, and additional small changes front to rear. 


Plenty of trims and features

Like most Audi models the A4 Allroad comes in three states of trim including the $47,600 Komfort, $51,500 Progressiv, and $55,300 Technik, my tester nicely equipped in the latter which meant along with the aforementioned LED headlamps it came fitted with a unique set of 18-inch machine-finished alloy wheels, no larger than the base rims but with more visual impact. 
Inside, Technik trim upgrades an already impressive base A4 Allroad with some eye-popping goodies such as a 12.3-inch configurable full-TFT primary gauge cluster Audi calls Virtual Cockpit. In default mode the tachometer and speedometer look like perfect digital interpretations of their analog counterparts, albeit with a bit more flair including flashier colours, but the real colour-fest is the multi-information display between these two dials. With no need to box it between analog gauges it's freed to occupy maximum space, making the minutest of details easily legible. That's only half the story, mind you, the other half requiring you to press the steering wheel-mounted "VIEW" button that dramatically downsizes the tach and speedo while upsizing the MID to the point that it takes over most of the space allotted, its colourful navigation mapping being the most dazzling function. 

Top-line options make the step up worthwhile

That's just one of many features that make Technik trim worth the price of entry, others including a 360-degree Top View camera that picks up tiny details that might otherwise cause parking problems; a superb sounding Bang & Olufsen 3D audio system; auto high beam assist for more convenient nighttime cruising; ambient interior lighting with configurable colours; heatable rear seats to go with the standard front set; and a host of active safety upgrades such as Audi side assist, Audi pre sense rear, rear cross traffic alert, and even an exit warning system. 
These items get added on top of features from lower models including keyless proximity entry with a foot-activated powered liftgate, power-folding heatable side mirrors, metal doorsill plates, an electromechanical parking brake, pushbutton ignition, a heatable leather-wrapped steering wheel, three-zone auto HVAC, upgraded 8.3-inch MMI infotainment with navigation and a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, auto-dimming side and rearview mirrors, memory for the side mirrors and driver's seat, powered front seats with lumbar, leather upholstery, a garage door opener, a panoramic moonroof, and beautiful aluminum inlays. 


Efficient and safe

Additional standard kit includes auto start/stop that helps keep fuel economy at a very reasonable 10.2 L/100km city, 8.3 highway and 9.3 combined; Audi Drive Select that lets you choose from its thriftier Comfort or Auto modes or opt for a much sportier Dynamic setting, not to mention new Offroad mode that adjusts steering and throttle response plus gear changes ahead of modulating active driving aids to overcome slippery, uneven surfaces; plus it receives all the expected active and passive safety features too, including front knee airbags. 
If this were my A4 Allroad I'd also opt for the $2,000 Advanced Driver Assistance package that adds adaptive cruise control, traffic congestion assist, active lane assist, Audi pre sense city, Audi pre sense front, and traffic sign recognition, which is most of what's needed for full autonomous driving and therefore capable of crash avoidance; and it would also be difficult to pass up the $1,400 Sport package due to its 19-inch 10-Y-spoke alloys alone, although the front sport seats with passenger-side powered lumbar, black headliner, and unique Aluminum Trimaran inlays are a bonus too. Audi also offers a $1,350 Comfort Seating package with the same sport seats albeit cooled with forced ventilation. Standalone options include 12 exterior colours, four interior colour themes, and Natural Grey Oak or dark brown Walnut inlays, while Technik trim offers the option of an adaptive damping suspension, head-up display, Audi connect assistance and security services, rear side window sunshades, and rear outboard side-thorax airbags. 

A thoroughly upscale interior ambience

No matter the trim level the new A4 Allroad is a considerable step up from the previous model when it comes to interior fit, finish, materials quality, switchgear, and features, its electronic interfaces especially good. Yes, I know the previous Allroad was already superb in most respects, but this latest version features nicer soft touch synthetics, tighter fitting buttons and knobs, high-end anodized aluminum for more of those controls, a much improved knurled metal rotating MMI controller with touch gesture capability, a higher resolution, quicker operating infotainment display with deeper, richer colours, better graphics, and the convenience of Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink, plus one of the sweetest leather- and metal-clad electronic shifters in the biz. 

That uniquely shaped shift lever connects through to Audi's latest seven-speed dual-clutch S Tronic gearbox, which is as smooth as a regular automatic yet even quicker shifting for a thoroughly engaging experience, especially when popped into its "S" manual position. You'll want to set Drive Select to Dynamic mode too, and then let your fingertips take control via steering wheel paddles that make the most of the A4 Allroad's sole engine choice.  

A power boost and new Quattro AWD improve performance and efficiency

The 2.0-litre TFSI turbocharged four-cylinder remains highly efficient as noted, yet output is up from 220 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque last year to a more exhilarating 252 horsepower and 273 lb-ft in the 2017 model, which means zero to 100 km/h takes 0.4 seconds less at just 6.2 seconds. 


Despite the Allroad's 34-mm gain in ride height and greater rear mass it's still almost as taut around tight corners as the A4 sedan, which is remarkable when factoring in its greater capability in deep snow and, if you dare, off-road. Along with previously noted Offroad mode the new A4 Allroad is the first Audi to benefit from an enhanced all-wheel drive design dubbed Quattro Ultra, which can disconnect its rear axle when not required in order to save fuel. 
SUV buyers often tout the need to tow as reason for their larger vehicle choice, and while a crossover wagon like the A4 Allroad might not immediately come to mind for such duties it's capable of hauling smaller loads. For those who'd like to tow a trailer but never mustered the courage, the Allroad can be had with an MMI infotainment-sourced feature that automatically adjusts the front wheels to the appropriate angle when reversing with a trailer. 

Roomy, flexible and ultimately safe

Possibly an even stronger Allroad draw is its five-door Avant wagon body-style that provides a lot more cargo carrying capacity than the four-door model, this year's version allowing up to 680 litres behind the wonderfully flexible 40/20/40 split-folding rear seatbacks, and of course a great deal more when they're laid flat. Skiers will appreciate the wide 20-percent divide between rear passengers, an especially nice treat when rear seat warmers are included. 


Passengers in mind, those in the comfortable back seats now enjoy 23 millimeters more legroom than the outgoing Allroad, and rest assured all aboard will be as safe as possible no matter which Allroad trim is chosen thanks to its IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus stamp of approval, whereas the NHTSA gives it five out of five stars for crash worthiness. 

Dependability remains an Audi strong point

While we should expect this level of safety from a premium brand like Audi, some will be shocked by the German manufacturer's chart topping dominance in Consumer Reports' latest annual report card on brand reliability and road-test performance. 
I certainly had difficulty finding fault with the new Allroad, its superb balance of performance and comfort, style and luxury, high tech and warm ambience easily winning over my leanings toward elegant contemporary living. This 2017 edition thoroughly modernizes the Allroad's winning formula, and will no doubt retain its most desirable compact sport wagon crossover title. 


Story credits: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press 

Photo credits: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press 

Copyright: Canadian Auto Press Inc. 
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