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Audi Allroad V8 Test

A great cross-over package with fantastic of performance.

By Michael Knowling

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At a glance...

  • Thirsty for premium unleaded fuel in stop-start conditions
  • Has limited touring range
  • Understeers in tight corners
  • Glorious V8 performance
  • Sexy exhaust note
  • Very practical and comfortable
  • High overall equipment level
  • Excellent safety
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The Audi Allroad quattro 4.2 has certainly left a lasting impression.

Initially it was the 4.2-litre V8 engine that grabbed our undivided attention. Wonderfully responsive, torquey and downright powerful, it is one of the most spirited engines on the market. And then there’s the throaty exhaust snarl that’s, to be blunt, utterly horn.

But as our test drew on, the Allroad V8 shined in many other areas.

Heading out for a weekend away we were impressed by the luggage swallowing capacity and the long-distance comfort provided for four people. The seats never become tiring and the Allroad always feels safe and secure, regardless of driving conditions.

Yes, this really is a standout machine.

At AUD$108,900 the Allroad V8 is the most expensive version of Audi’s multi-purpose wagon. Nineteen grand dearer than the twin-turbo V6 model (which has 184kW and 350Nm), the 4.2 Allroad heads the line-up thanks to a generous standard features list and, of course, that off-the-leash V8. This is essentially the same engine as used in the go-fast Audi S4 and S6.

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The 4.2-litre DOHC, 40-valve bent-eight is a pure delight. Boasting a high 11.0:1 compression ratio, a two-stage intake manifold, variable inlet cam timing, direct-fire ignition and the latest Motronic management, it pumps out a healthy 380Nm of torque from 2700 to 4600 rpm and peaks with 220kW at 6200 rpm.

Compared to, say, the 235kW Holden Adventra, the Audi Allroad isn’t the gruntiest vehicle in the segment – but it certainly drives every bit as well in real-world conditions. Throttle response (using throttle-by-wire) is incredibly strong at all revs and it’s backed by ample torque. This surge of torque is relentless all the way to the 6500 rpm redline – the rorty exhaust lets the V8 breath with minimal restriction.

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A 5-speed automatic transmission with sequential shift and steering wheel controls comes standard on the Allroad V8. We love the way the Dynamic Shift Program (DSP) keeps the transmission in the right ratio in absolutely all conditions and its willingness to kick down. A sports mode (‘S’) is great for performance driving, but the up/down-change buttons on the steering wheel aren’t as effective as the paddles fitted to other high-end Audis.

At 1860kg, the Allroad 4.2 can tear away from a standing start with eye-widening acceleration.

Audi claims 7.2-second 0 – 100 km/h performance and our own tests (conducted in cold conditions) were virtually dead-on. The demonstrated ability to pull ahead of a late ‘90s Ford Falcon XR6 from a standing start indicates the level of performance on tap. Oh, and this was achieved with four people and a full load of luggage onboard!

The top speed of the Allroad V8 is listed at 240 km/h - this is despite a high 0.36Cd.

But what about the fuel consumption of this V8 all-wheel-drive wagon?

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Squirting through city traffic it’s common to see 20-litres per 100km average fuel consumption on the trip computer, but over the length of our test - which was a combination of performance testing, country and city driving – we averaged high 15s.

This is reasonable overall consumption, but it’s not good enough to get away with the relatively small 70-litre fuel tank. Using our average fuel consumption figure, the 70-litre tank provides a touring range of less than 450km. Also, note that the 4.2-litre V8 needs a minimum of 95RON unleaded fuel – for optimum performance you should use 98RON fuel.

Driving on the bitumen at high speed, the Allroad’s permanent all-wheel-drive (with a Torsen centre diff) provides excellent handling stability. In urban driving, however, the Allroad V8 becomes a lead-tipped understeerer when pushed far beyond ‘normal’. This is despite the standard ESP (Electronic Stability Program).

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The Allroad is not set up for sharp handling. However, point it down a dirt track and it is wonderfully stable, soaking up corrugations with ease. There’s also enough on-demand ground clearance to let you venture slightly off the beaten track. At the push of a button, the Allroad can be raised to provide up to 208mm of ground clearance, which lets you walk over some relatively rough terrain. In normal conditions, the 4-position adjustable ride height should be set to a lower setting to provide improved poise. The ride height is automatically lowered at high speed.

Unlike many other cross-over vehicles, the Allroad isn’t afflicted by the awkward ride judders that are associated with a high upsprung mass. Audi has addressed this situation by employing many aluminium components in its 4-link front and double-wishbone rear suspension systems. The ride is always comfortable.

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The Allroad is guided by power assisted rack and pinion steering that – like many other Audis – doesn’t provide a great deal of feedback. It does, however, provide decent steering response and it doesn’t need constant correction on the open road.

The braking department is up to standard thanks to ABS and EBD controlled four-wheel ventilated discs. The brake pedal in our test vehicle was slightly soft – but this might be exaggerated by the response of the accelerator...

The Allroad is based on the Audi A6 Avant (wagon) so it feels very conventional and ‘car like’ inside - but with the benefit of a higher driving position. There’s adequate accommodation for up to five occupants, although the Allroad is much more comfortable as a four-seater.

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The rear cargo area does not provide an awesome amount of floor space but the available space is very accessible. There are no problems fitting in a couple of cases and a pair of soft bags. For even more luggage capacity, the 60/40-split rear backrest can be folded forward. A ski-port is also fitted.

Nice finishing details include a roll-out cargo blind and cabin divider, tie-downs, an emergency triangle and a 12-volt power outlet. You also get a reversible carpet/rubber floor mat. Lift the carpet and look under the cargo area floor and there’s a space-saver spare wheel. This is a little disappointing but, then again, Audi never meant the Allroad to be a hard-edged off-roader.

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High quality two-tone leather trim covers the seats and door trims and the 4.2 scores a tasteful amount of burr walnut trim. All controls fall to hand nicely and the gauges are clear and legible, though the speed increments aren’t ideal for Australian roads. During our trip we were constantly impressed by the number of useful storage facilities.

The dual-zone digital climate control system is easy to use, as is the trip computer and cruise control. Note that the Allroad doesn’t get the adaptive cruise fitted to other high-end models. Multi-way electric adjustable front seats, an auto-dimming interior mirror, fold-down front and rear armrests and a grippy leather wheel are also fitted.

The optional Bose audio package fitted to our test vehicle delivered 6-stack CD capacity with excellent sound clarity and good bass. An anti-theft alarm comes as standard.

Complementing the solid feel of the chassis are six airbags and the usual safety features. The only noticeable absence from the Audi features list is heated seats. There are also no audio controls on the steering wheel.

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Clean, simple styling is an Audi hallmark and the Allroad has not been spoilt by its add-ons. The wheel arch flares, full-length roof racks, aluminium-look underbody guard and fog lights integrate very well. “Muscular” is the best way to describe the look. Interestingly, 18-inch alloys come as standard but 17-inch alloys wearing Pirelli Allroad tyres are offered as an option for those buyers likely to head off the bitumen regularly. These optional 17s were fitted to our test vehicle.

Unlike some other Audi models, the Allroad wagon offers good all-round visibility and boasts a fully galvanised body, with the exception of an aluminium bonnet. The standard Xenon headlights are nothing short of brilliant.

In case you haven’t noticed, we think the Allroad V8 is a mighty impressive vehicle.

With the exception of its tight corner understeer, there’s not much else that can be criticised. Sure, it does consume a fair amount of fuel when driven in stop-start conditions and the range is limited, but everything else - performance, practicality, comfort, build quality and safety – are top-notch.

Even with its substantial AUD$108,900 price tag we can award the Audi Allroad 4.2 a glowing recommendation. This is one of our favourites.

The Allroad quattro 4.2 was provided for this test by Audi Australia

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