Thursday, 21 February 2013


On motoring launches we scribes get to explore the more arcane, secluded passages of tarmac in our country. If one has the time, a healthy balance on the fuel card and a keen sense of adventure, traversing the nation's roads could be quite rewarding indeed.

The Western Cape played host to the unveiling of the Audi A4 allroad two days ago.

We put it through its paces on some sinuous mountain passes and obscure dirt tracks - truly testing the idea behind the moniker: a car for every terrain and occasion.

What makes it so special?
Now the allroad isn't anything revolutionary, Audi gave us a product with the allroad treatment way back in 2001 - in the form of the A6. It offered a meaner, more rugged spin on the Avant wagon format.

In the four-ring emblem line-up, there is certainly no dearth of Sport Utility Vehicle offerings and quasi off-roaders. You've got the little Q3 at the bottom of the scale, the medium-sized Q5 and the behemoth Q7 at the top..

Let's go 50/50
The allroad is a well-executed compromise - a nearly perfect paradox on wheels.

It is a product for the buyer who wants a sporty, car-like driving position and handling to match. But with a bit of extra competence for those unforeseen circumstances where the tarred road deteriorates into a rocky trail.

And not forgetting the roominess and practicality of an estate car.

Awesome on all roads
We doff our hat to the beefier A4 wagon, is handles the rough stuff with aplomb.

Driving at freeway speeds on surfaces almost akin to cobblestone paving, the allroad retains its composure superbly and seems impervious to rattles and squeaks.

The ride height is elevated a little more than the standard Avant model (180 millimetres exactly), the suspension is supple and soaks up the effects of the surfaces beneath.

But then you point it in the direction of Sir Lowry's Pass, with its tummy-turning twisty sections and the butch German wagon laps it up with eagerness.

It glides along confidently and imparts a sense of solidity, thanks to that standard all-wheel drive system. The steering wheel is light at low, city speeds and stiffens up assuringly when you're pushing freeway-worthy digits.

Inside - so plush, no fuss
Hop inside and it's business as usual: quality that simply can't be faulted.

Everything is presented in a typically clear, clinical Audi kind of way. Although the A4's interior hasn't changed since its launch in 2008, things still look contemporary and feel rather upmarket.

Of course, you will need to fork out if you want all the cool stuff - like that Google Earth navigation system and a massive panoramic sunroof.

Dynamic engine duo
There are two derivatives available, the 2.0T FSI petrol (155kW and 350Nm) and the diesel 2.0 TDI (130kW and 380Nm).

We spent more time with the latter and found it effusive once it gathered some steam on the highway, with the turbocharger doing its thing and the abundance of torque kicking in.

You can only have Audi's semi-automatic S Tronic transmission, which shifts cogs with ease, but is less eager to oblige when you want to do things manually. Green highlights include automatic stop-start and energy recuperating technology.

Priced for a premium lifestyle
One cannot shy away from the fact that the allroad's suit-every-lifestyle virtues are not cheap.

Pricing kicks off at R433 000 for the 2.0T FSI and the diesel is R438 000. If you go wild with the optional extras you could end up paying nearly half a million for the privilege of ownership.

But what you get is sublime, near faultless level of engineering. In addition to capability for all seasons and all surfaces - whether it’s whooshing past some sweeping scenic passes, or leaving clouds of dust on a filthy dirt trail.

Prices are inclusive of Audi's five-year/100 000 kilometre maintenance plan.

Audi A4 allroad Pricing
2.0 TFSI (R433 000)
2.0 TDI (R438 000)


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