Originally published December 21, 2015
As we lose more and more wagons (and manual transmissions, for that matter) with every generation of cars launched in North America, we at Autos.ca must do everything in our power to cherish each and every long-roof we can lay our hands on. Audi has a legacy of wagons, Avant in Audi-speak that is rivaled by few, though the truly delectable hot-rod wagons were available only in Europe: the RS2 Avant, RS4 Avant and RS6 Avant. On our shores we still had the delectable Avant versions for the A4 and A6 and their hotter S4 and S6 variants. In 1999, Audi dropped some body cladding onto the wheel wells and bumpers, beefed up the chassis and jacked up the ride height on the A6 to give us one of the earlier crossovers, the A6 Allroad Quattro.
This time around, the Allroad Quattro has been attached to the A4 platform, though with far less differentiation from the basic A4 Avant on which it is based. Then again, we have been deprived of the current generation A4 Avant (and S4 Avant, and A6 and S6 and RS6 Avant…), so this Allroad serves as the only feasible A4 or Audi wagon we can lay our hands on. And lay our hands on it we did, by special request to Audi Canada, who were gracious enough to grant our request.
Despite its niche status, it’s a car we automotive scribes will push for with our dying breath serving the twin purposes of practicality and vehicle dynamics with equal aplomb in one often fetching package. The A4 has stately lines, and the wagon variant offers an equally elegant profile, though the ‘rugged’ plastic body cladding is textbook ‘garnish’ that serves little more than to create a distinct two-tone appearance. These bumpers and ‘skid plates’ clearly were not meant to absorb the punishment of a heavy off-roading stint, but perhaps they could shake off a few stone chips painted bumpers would not. Despite the outdoorsy apparel down low, the top is all business class, with some chrome trim to highlight the long window opening and matte metallic roof rails to demonstrate its classy practicality.
Step inside and you will discover why Audi is considered a frontrunner in interior design, and this despite the A4 Allroad riding on a platform that is in its twilight, due to be replaced by the ‘B9’ (ninth generation) 2017 A4 and its various versions. From the thick leather steering wheel and wide-handled shifter you grip in your hands to the carefully sculpted and supportive seat, and all the high quality plastics, metal and carpeting you will find throughout the cabin make the Allroad an inviting environment. Back seat space, on the other hand, is in short supply; decent enough for kids, but legroom for adults is cramped, and the middle seat is truly inhospitable between the seatback and driveline tunnel completely obliterating legroom. At least it’s not as comically useless as the back seat of the Volvo V60 Cross Country.