Audi's latest-generation A4 sedan is making its North American debut at the Detroit auto show this morning, but the entire world is getting its first glimpse at an important derivative of the company's volume-leading model, the A4 Allroad.
Think of the A4 Allroad as Audi's take on a Subaru Outback -- essentially an A4 Avant wagon with additional ground clearance and cladding for increased off-road ability (or, just as likely, increased off-road posing). While sales of traditional station wagons in North America long ago went soft, giving standard two-box estate body styles a bit more of an SUV look has proven to be a winning formula for generating additional sales and thicker profits for many automakers. In Audi's case, while the standard A4 Avant failed to sell in volumes that justified its continued importation, giving the compact wagon the Allroad treatment has boosted sales by orders of magnitude.
The second-generation A4 Allroad doesn't deviate from that proven formula, and it features an additional 1.3 inches of ground clearance over the standard A4 wagon, with part of that furnished by a suspension lift and the remaining coming courtesy of larger wheels ranging from 17 to 19 inches in diameter. The suspension they're connected to, incidentally, has been redesigned, with a revamped five-link setup up front, and a new five-link setup in the rear (replacing the previous trapezoidal-link geometry). Lightweight suspension materials have helped decrease curb weight by over 26 pounds, and a new off-road mode girds the Allroad's various systems for improved performance in the light-duty mudding such vehicles are likely to see.
A new electric power steering system has shaved some weight, too, and a variable-ratio steering system is optional.
Globally, the new A4 Allroad will be available with a range of TFSI gasoline and TDI diesel engines ranging from 150 to 272 horsepower. The North American market is expected to only offer a 252-horsepower, 273 pound-feet of torque gas engine, paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission (a conventional eight-speed automatic and six-speed manual will be available overseas).
Audi is also upping the tech ante inside the Allroad, and it promises to be a class-best juggernaut like the A4 sedan. In the main, that means the cabin will feature Audi's stunning Virtual Cockpit screen-based gauge cluster, the latest generation of MMI infotainment, 4G LTE connectivity, and an available uplevel Bang & Olufsen audio system.
A full complement of driver-assistance systems cribbed from the new Q7 SUV will also be available, including adaptive cruise control with traffic-jam assist, park assist, exit warning (which alerts you when you're about to open a door into oncoming traffic), collision-avoidance assist and various other systems.
The new A4 Allroad hits European showrooms this summer, but likely won't make it to our market until this fall at the earliest. Pricing will be announced closer to launch.