South Africans on the whole have one major misgiving that I cannot seem to look past. Perhaps it’s the German in me, perhaps it’s my sensible side, maybe even the gear-lugging photographer. I’m not sure what it is or why it is, but one thing is for sure, I’m different to most South Africans.
I love station wagons!
Most manufacturers make them, but not many sell them in significant numbers. This issue of non-selling station wagons has been a real plague to many manufacturers and particularly Audi, who due to these circumstances pulled the incredibly capable A6 Avant from their line up in SA, and now more recently have pulled the A4 Avant from the line up as well. The only Avants that Audi still has on its order list are the fire-breathing RS4 Avant and the slightly less manic S4 Avant.
With the introduction of the A4 Allroad Quattro Audi is hoping to once again win over the hearts of some not-so-ignorant South Africans. The problem seems to be that speed obsessed South Africans wrongly assume that a station wagon (Avant in Audi speak) is somehow less involving and not as dynamic as the sedan counterpart. Oh, how wrong they are.
The fact that the newly released RS4 is available only in Avant form should hopefully help to set that record straight. Wagons are fantastically fun, infinitely more practical and in my eyes even better to look at than sedans. But enough of that, let’s get back to the vehicle at hand.
The Allroad is being punted as an active-lifestyle vehicle and it’s not too difficult to see why. The wheel arches and lower parts of the bumper are finished in a highly durable plastic, the underbody gains additional protection thanks to some stainless steel cladding and the entire car sits visibly higher than your run-of-the-mill A4, thanks to the 180mm of ground clearance, 60 mm more than standard. All of this coupled with Audis well known Quattro all-wheel-drive system definitely add up to a vehicle that is better suited to chauffeuring your kayak along the gravel road and down to the river than a regular sedan or station wagon.
The Allroad Quattro is offered with 2 engine derivatives, both equally brilliant. First is the well-known Audi/VW family turbocharged 2.0 TFSI motor, which puts out 155kW and 350Nm, resulting in a 0-100 time of 6.8 seconds and averaging 7.3 litres/100km on the combined cycle. The other engine on offer is the 2.0 TDI which churns out 130kW and 380Nm. This gives you a 0-100 time of 8.1 seconds and should result in your average consumption sitting at 6 litres/100km.
The choice between the two motors is a fairly elementary one. If you tend to do the inner-city commute more frequently go with the petrol motor, if however, you are the kind of outdoors person that packs up the kit and hits the road on extended trips quite regularly, the diesel is the one you’re after.
Our launch drive took us over various different routes, ranging from the tarmac of Sir Lowry’s Pass to the gravel of wine country back roads. The car proved to be equally impressive on both surfaces. The added ground clearance makes itself noticeable on the road, but not to the extent that it could be considered a hindrance. A spot of spirited driving is still very much on the cards. The car really comes into its own on the rough stuff, where the raised suspension and Quattro system allow you to drive considerably faster and over rougher surfaces than most would be happy to do in their sedans.
One very neat feature that this car has is that the floor of the boot, or rear load bay, is reversible. There is a panel that is carpeted on one side and covered in hard plastic on the other. During your normal school runs and shopping trips you can happily leave it as is. However, when you’re all done and muddied after your Sunday hike, you can flip the panel upside down, toss your dirty gear in the back, and once home just give it a wipe with a moist cloth and you’re good to go. Doesn’t sound like a half bad place to stow the dogs after a day out at the dam either.
In my books the Allroad makes a very compelling argument for itself. You have the same comfortable, well-appointed interior as you do in your regular Audi with all the bells and whistles your heart desires but with added heaps of space and practicality. It’s a no brainer if you ask me.
In Europe, Audi’s Avants outsell their sedan brothers by roughly 2 to 1. It seems that Europeans have seen the light, now we can only hope that Audi’s Allroad Quattro is South African’s first step towards enlightenment.