The Audi A4 allroad 3.0 TDI which came to us last week reminded me of those rummage baskets at village fetes where you pay a fixed price for a ticket to root around and then you pull out a single Harrods truffle, which might be a box of Lego or a Cartier necklace. Another ticket, another prize.
Neil Lyndon picks a winner with the Audi A4 allroad 3.0 TDI quattro
The allroad was like that in the sense that every time you got into the car, you found another treat. Ooh, look: it’s actually got a discreet little strip of red light illuminating the cup holders in the front And – guess what? – It matches the line of red light, as narrow as a pencil lead, that runs along the inside of the door to point the way to the door pull. Then, crikey! There are delicate aluminium inlays on the door sills that remind you that this a “quattro” if you had forgotten. The door mirrors set themselves automatically to match your own individual seat position and also have an automatic dimming function which stops you being discomfited by rude drivers behind who haven’t dimmed their own headlights (if they owned an A4 allroad, of course, the car itself would have performed that little courtesy). And so on. One indulgence after another.
I caught them out over the “Smoking Pack” that was included in the options list for our loan car at £50. I haven’t smoked for years, so I wasn’t sure whether this meant they had included a packet of fags that would actually cost you £50 at the shops. Not finding it, I phoned Audi who explained it simply meant that the car included an ashtray and a cigarette lighter. “But it doesn’t,” I protested. “Ah, well that’s a mistake, then,” they answered. “You can knock £50 off the price.”
What a relief. That now makes the all-in price of the car we borrowed a comfortably affordable £56713 instead of the excruciatingly impossible £56763 on the spec sheet.
Even so, that’s about twenty grand more than the asking price for the basic A4 Avant with the same three-litre engine. The allroad – which is effectively an Avant in Wellington boots – needs to bring an awful lot of truffles to the rummage basket to justify that difference.
And it does, in my view. The froufrou that makes all the difference in the allroad is the switchable transmission control.
This little geegaw gives you driving dynamics on the road that are sharp enough to be almost arousing……while also allowing you to drive to a lover’s house at the bottom of a soft forest track with the confidence that you will be able to get out again when the assignation is concluded. It’s almost a 4×4 SUV without the heart-lowering looks and it’s almost a higher-performance estate but without the aggression.
That three-litre TDI is a belter. Six hundred NM of torque must surely equal the output of the Mercury-Atlas 6 that took John Glen into space in 1962. Perhaps that might be a fractional exaggeration but it is a fact that the allroad’s acceleration from 0-60 mph in five seconds is faster than the Jaguar E-Type that was making its sensational debut around the same time that the late-lamented hero with the Right Stuff was blasting off.
The allroad is also better to drive fast than that historic masterpiece. Its independent-wheel suspension set-up is wondrously sophisticated and goes a long way to counterbalance the meandering effect of the raised wheel-arches, the deadening hand of the four-wheel drive system and the added weight of the reinforced sills and underbody protection. It’s not a Caterham but it’s not a Q5, either.
Complete car civilisation, you could call it. Happy to pick that number out of the basket.
Car reviewed: Audi A4 allroad quattro 3.0 TDI tiptronic (272 PS) – On the road £38,815, price as tested £56,763 0-62mph 5.5 secs Top speed 155mph Fuel Economy combined 53.3mpg CO2 emissions 146g/km Engine 2967cc DOHC V6 Diesel with exhaust turbocharger Max Power [email protected] Torque [email protected] Drivetrain/Transmission 8-speed tiptronic with quattro permanent all-wheel drive
A delightful treat
Just a total pleasure to drive
Easy on the options, it can get pricey
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