First Drive: 2013 Audi A4 allroad
Photos by Mike Selander and Richard Melick
The brand new 2013 Audi A4 allroad has landed temporarily in our great state, and with such a limited opportunity to give this not-yet-released Audi a whirl around town and into the hills, time was of the essence. With less than 24 hours beforehand to plan everything from locations to the driving route, we arrived at Ed Carroll Motor Company in Fort Collins for this exclusive test drive.
The brand new allroad is not a replacement for the previous A6 platformed allroad, but more of a downsizing and improvement. The old allroad, famous for its rugged looks and air ride suspension, has not been sold in the US since 2005, and with Audi missing out on the more adaptive ride market, the A4 allroad was designed to fill its shoes. Reportedly hitting the showrooms in mid June, this new ride is aimed at the family market, hoping to cut into the profits of Subaru and other crossover styled vehicles. And as a replacement design for the current A4 avant, this new ride has some big shoes to fill.
From the moment we arrived, this car stood out from the rest of the lot with its flared fenders, brushed aluminum front and rear skid plates, and beefy all-season tires. The redesigned front end sports a far more aggressive look with its chromed trimming and LED headlights. Even down to the grille, which has gone from the horizontal slats to vertical with this model, helps to show that this is no ordinary A4 wagon.
Now, the weather is what many would consider far from optimal when it comes to test drives and photoshoots, but we felt it was the closest to perfect we could get. With the snow coming down, dirty and slick roads all around, and that always well maintained asphalt to hit, we knew we could put this car to the perfect test. Now, as a side note, this vehicle is one of five in the country, and has been brought over from Europe to drive the interest. What does that mean? Well, this allroad we were about to take the hills had options not available in the US, such as the convex side mirrors and auto stop/start for the engine. While these features added to the overall experience of our coming drive, we worked hard to focus on what the car itself.
Starting up the 2.0 turbo was as smooth as is common with Audis, and sat quietly as it idled, warming up for its coming adventure into the hills. As we slid into the vehicle, everything felt in the right place, from the MMI to the controls on the steering wheel. The sport seats hugged very well, and even without the panoramic sunroof, there was plenty of headroom. As we slid out of the parking lot, we started to play around with the features of the vehicle, from the 5 different driving settings to the paddle shift controls.
Acceleration was smooth, with a very surprising lack of turbo lag that has been so common on previous models. It was a smooth transition from zero on up, and the paddle shift responded quickly to commands for up and down shifts. As we headed through town towards Horsetooth Reservoir, we stumbled on the Eurospec feature of auto stop/start. I say stumbled because we were not warned, and when I pulled to a stop, I thought I had killed the car somehow (or Audi was watching us and killed it remotely). But as I took my foot off the brake, the car came back to life. I will say it not coming to the US might be a blessing as there was a delay between removing the brake and the engine starting that might cause a little honk from anyone behind the allroad. But, that is neither here nor there as it would not be a feature gracing our roads.
As we headed up the hills of Horsetooth, we noticed that the car was handling the curves elegantly, as a poised machine would, with little drama to it. This is neither a car nor SUV, and handled between both. I felt as if I were in a car as I drove, sitting a good height off the road, but as we hit the corners, the car rolled perfectly with them. It took every bump that came under the all-season tires with little transfer into the seats, and proved to be a relaxing ride even as we headed over the less maintained portions of the road. At no time did the car feel stiff or rough, and was far more forgiving of the road ahead than others we have taken over the same road.
As we zipped around the reservoir, hitting dirt, mud, and snow, I never felt I would lose control of the allroad. As we headed back into town to check out the city handling, we began to notice the small details inside the car. The wood trim, for example, was not the polished standard seen before, but had the feel of real wood grain in a matte setting. It, along with the comfort of the seats, ease of cockpit controls, and overall finish of the interior just added to the comfort of the ride. It felt elegant, but not to a point where a family would be turned away from the car out of fear of little finger prints, juice boxes, and the other terrors that come with having a family car.
This is a great step for Audi back into the crossover market, and the A4 allroad is set to be a big challenge for similar cars, such as the Subaru Outback. With its trim and finish, proven reliability with the engines, and dynamic features, it feels like a complete addition to the A4 lineup. It is a car meant for the go everywhere, try everything type of family, able to cross the country in style and comfort, then hit the dirt roads up to the camp grounds with ease.
While this is the Eurospec version of the allroad, I honestly have high hopes for the vehicle. And until the US version is delivered, only time will tell if it lives above the shadow of its older brother. As disappointed as I am that Audi is not producing the basic avant in the next platform, I do understand how this vehicle will be able to fill those shoes very well. With the average consumer looking for reliability, comfort, styling, and flexibility, this A4 allroad fits the bill.