Fire up the 2wd quattro! Audi A4 Allroad Quattro Ultra first drive, CAR+ June 2016 | CAR Magazine

Fire up the 2wd quattro! Audi A4 Allroad Quattro Ultra first drive, CAR+ June 2016

Published: 01 May 2016 Updated: 18 May 2016

► New Audi A4 Allroad Quattro tested
► Features new all-wheel-drive system
► Telemetry reveals infrequent quattro use

After decades trumpeting the advantages of all-wheel drive, Audi is quietly revealing a downside: extra driven wheels cut mpg.

The solution is called ‘quattro with ultra’. Designed for Audis with longitudinal engines and dual-clutch or manual ’boxes, it activates all-wheel drive only when required. Audi tests showed the deficit to fwd economy dropped by almost 50%.

The new A4 Allroad Quattro debuts the tech with a 2.0-litre TFSI petrol, Audi no doubt eyeing the US market. All but the hottest 3.0-litre diesels (mit torque convertor) will graduate from quattro without ultra later in life.

It works by analysing sensors – steering, throttle, yaw etc – adapting to driver behaviour and, sometimes, reacting to surprise surface conditions. It’s impossible to detect the system engaging. Accelerate hard through a corner and you feel awd grippiness.

Drive sedately down a straight and you have no idea you’re two driveshafts short of the full Röhrl. Data analysis later proved we’d used quattro for only 20% of our test route. A diesel Allroad – old quattro, remember – felt similar, with only the chassis different: the petrol rolled more, its chassis perhaps tuned to US freeways.

And the rest? There’s a 34mm suspension hike, backpack-and-boots bodywork, and the same great interior, 505 litres of luggage space and power tailgate as the Avant, which for most of us does the job just fine. But there’s no denying the Allroad has a rugged appeal.

The specs: Audi A4 Allroad Quattro 2.0 TFSI

Price: £37,275
Engine: 1984cc 16v four-cyl turbo, 247bhp @ 5000-6000rpm, 273lb ft @ 1600-4500rpm  
Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, all-wheel drive
Performance: 6.1sec 0-62mph, 153mph, 44.1mpg, 147g/km CO2  
Weight: 1655kg  
On sale: Now  
Rating:  ****

Verdict: A perfectly good estate car in not particularly convincing SUV fancy dress

Read more from the June 2016 issue of CAR magazine

By Ben Barry

Contributing editor, sideways merchant, tyre disintegrator