As with other A4s receiving their first major upgrade since the latest-generation luxury car was launched in 2016, the Allroad gains changes to its bodywork and revised LED lights front and rear. The designers have put some extra chiselling into the sheetmetal, while the styling tweaks bring a 24mm increase in overall length and a 5mm gain in width.
The Allroad has slightly wider tracks and larger (plastic) wheel arches compared with an A4 Avant, and its exterior features a specific bumper and aluminium-look sills and roof rails.
An extra 46mm of ground clearance, hill descent control and an Off Road driving mode give the Allroad extra credentials away from the bitumen.
It’s also the only A4 model to offer a diesel engine option – the same 140kW/400Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder offered in the Q5.
This A4 Allroad 40 TDI starts from $69,900 before on-road costs, with the bigger-selling 45 TFSI turbo petrol version priced from $72,900.
Both prices are $1900 lower than what these variants cost previously. They now undercut the equivalent Q5 by $2700 (comparing diesels) or $1236 (comparing petrols), with equipment levels largely identical.
|2020 Audi A4 Allroad 45 TFSI|
|Engine||2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol|
|Power and torque||183kW @ 5000–6500rpm, 370Nm @ 1600–4500rpm|
|Transmission||Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic|
|Drive type||On-demand all-wheel drive|
|Fuel claim combined (ADR)||7.4L/100km|
|Fuel use on test||7.5L/100km|
|ANCAP safety rating||5-star (A4, tested 2015)|
|Warranty||3 years / unlimited km|
|Price as tested (ex on-road costs)||From $72,900|
The Allroad needs a $2900 Assistance Plus Package (which was fitted to both our test cars) to match the adaptive cruise control, high-beam assist, Turn Assist, and pre-sense front (high-speed collision warning system) standard on the SUV, though that option pack adds a head-up display and 360-degree camera that cost extra on the Q5.
Whether you go petrol or diesel Allroad, there’s exactly the same equipment level, so it purely comes down to a buyer’s engine preference. (And our pick is revealed later in this review.)
Inside, the obvious 2020 change is the removal of a centre console rotary controller (with touchpad) as part of a showroom-wide transition to a pure touchscreen arrangement for the infotainment system.
If it’s a retrograde step for ergonomics – hand controllers make it easier to keep your eyes on the road when selecting functions – there are technological gains.
The 10.1-inch display – again presented in a tablet-style design – has higher-resolution graphics (1540x770 pixels), and Audi says there’s 10 times more computing power than before.
Audi Connect Plus enables access to a variety of online information as well as various functions via a myAudi smartphone app. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto provide smartphone integration, and it’s possible for two phones to be connected simultaneously.
What hasn’t changed is a premium cabin ambience that looks and feels a level above Audi’s smaller (A3/Q3) models, especially in terms of materials. The textured, metallic-style trim that’s prominent on the dash, doors and centre console is a particular trim highlight.
And importantly for a vehicle designed to cover long distances, the front seats provide excellent comfort – with plentiful electric adjustment and cushion extenders.
The driving position is more passenger car than SUV despite the Allroad’s extra elevation over the Avant, though there’s still good vision afforded by the expansive rear window and elongated side glass (though the D-pillar is quite thick). The side mirrors are also helpful despite their relatively small size (and blind-spot monitoring is standard).
In the rear of the cabin, generous all-round space combines with well-shaped seatbacks and an upwardly angled bench – which allow passengers to nestle nicely into the outboard seats – to provide excellent comfort over long distances.
USB points are conspicuously absent but rear storage is useful, including a centre armrest with cupholders.
Front storage is well considered, too, including a centre console that provides a wireless charging tray (with USB-C port) beneath the front armrest, keyfob nook, and a lidded small-storage section. Door cubbies aren’t huge, though provide (angled) access for regular-sized drinks bottles.
Open the boot (which can be done hands-free with a kick aimed under the rear bumper), and there’s the same 495L of luggage capacity as the A4 Avant.
It will hold a week’s worth of family road trip gear, making the 55L shortfall to the Q5’s boot a minor difference – though the SUV’s capacity can be expanded to 610L with its sliding rear seat.
The middle seatback can also be folded down separately thanks to a 40-20-40 configuration. With all rear seats flattened, boot space is 1495L.
If $3000 doesn’t matter either way, A4 Allroad prospects face a choice between the fastest variant (the 45 TFSI) and the most economical (40 TDI). Drivability and refinement are other factors to consider, though.
The turbo petrol is the consistently quieter engine, whereas the turbo diesel emits a noticeable, if far from unruly, clatter on a light throttle.
Yet while Audi says the 45 TFSI Allroad is nearly two seconds quicker in the 0–100km/h acceleration run – 6.1 versus 7.9 seconds – we found the 40 TDI the more satisfying performer.
There’s a muscularity to the diesel that, subjectively, suggests the difference in maximum torque between the two variants is more than 30Nm (the 40 TDI’s 400Nm versus 370Nm).
So, while the 45 TFSI provides strong acceleration, there’s not quite the same rewarding sensation of surging forward as you get when applying the throttle in the 40 TDI.
The diesel is also the best overall at gelling with the seven-speed dual-clutch auto fitted to both variants. Whereas the engine-gearbox combination in the turbo petrol sometimes inhibits smooth progress from lower revs, the 40 TDI delivers the most linear experience when accelerating.
The 45 TFSI’s engine incorporates (very) mild hybrid technology, which Audi says can save about a third of a litre of fuel every 100km on some journeys – through extended stop-start functionality and a coasting function that can switch off the engine between 55 and 160km/h when not under load.
There’s no doubt the diesel is the more economical variant, however. While we achieved an indicated average consumption of 7.5L/100km even after a drive comprising a significant chunk of freeway running, the 40 TDI registered 4.9L/100km during a drive with less freeway time and focused primarily in suburbs.
(In CarAdvice’s review of an A4 Avant 45 TFSI, we registered average consumption of 9.5L/100km with less freeway driving in the mix.)
Official consumption figures are 7.4L/100km for the 45 TFSI and 5.2L/100km for the 40 TDI.
For those interested in the 40 TDI, it’s best to hold off until early 2021 when Audi will release an updated version that will be even more appealing. Gaining 10kW and the mild-hybrid set-up, the diesel Allroad will be both faster and more economical according to the company – with claimed consumption of 4.9L/100km and a claimed sprint time of 7.3 seconds.
Active Lane Assist is one of the new technologies for the updated A4 – part of the Assistance Plus Package. We were inclined to switch this so-called driver aid off. Designed with the intention to help drivers stay safely in an existing lane, the system can all too often be felt interfering unnecessarily with the steering.
With Active Lane Assist off, the Allroad steers with a far more agreeable smoothness, without offering much for the keener driver. There’s also a bit less body roll going around corners than you’ll find in the Q5 SUV, plus plenty of tyre grip and good traction whether you have the ‘Ultra’ on-demand all-wheel drive of the 45 TFSI or the more permanent set-up on the 40 TDI.
Ultra quattro makes the Allroad 45 TFSI a front-drive car until any detected slip at the front prompts some torque to be sent to the rear wheels.
Either system is sufficiently capable for any mild off-roading excursions the Allroad is realistically designed for, rather than any serious mud-plugging attempts.
The A4 Allroad isn’t quite the super-relaxing touring wagon it could be. The ride tends to be lumpy on your typical country road, and around the suburbs the bumpier the surface, the fussier the suspension becomes.
The Allroad’s stop-go adaptive cruise system was particularly welcome for some heavy long-weekend traffic while driving the 45 TFSI Allroad, including its ability to take off automatically even after being stationary for a while.
Radar cruise is also a surprising option – part of the aforementioned Assistance Plus Package.
As with most similar systems, it’s just not as good as a human driver at managing wider gaps, tending to surge towards the vehicle ahead then brake relatively hard and late – prompting the driver’s right foot to be on standby even though the Audi always stops in time.
For buyers looking for a wagon alternative to a luxury mid-sized SUV, the A4 Allroad has plenty to offer beyond its handsome, chiselled looks.
It’s also helped by a severe shortage of rivals. While there’s the Subaru Outback, VW Passat Alltrack or Skoda Superb Scout for those not besotted with the idea of a premium badge, the likes of BMW, Jaguar, Mercedes and Volvo don’t offer a high-riding conventional wagon at this size/pricepoint.
The A4 Allroad could offer greater rolling comfort and provide more interest for keener drivers, though for many motorists the Audi’s slightly underdone ride and handling are unlikely to spoil the overall package.
That just leaves a decision between petrol and diesel, then. The 45 TFSI is a good choice, though our pick is the 40 TDI (though wait for the improved version coming in early 2021).
Note: Pros and cons cover both models; ratings specific to 45 TFSI variant.