2014 Audi Allroad Driving Impressions

We drove the allroad in Colorado, and challenged its powertrain, brakes and handling on freeways and mountain two-lanes. The ride is pleasing and smooth, with no rough moments transmitted to the occupants over patchy pavement.

The little engine performs out of its league, with strong torque translating to effortless acceleration even on uphill two-lanes. The Tiptronic 8-speed automatic is fast-shifting and obedient with the paddle shifters, and has rev-matching downshifting. It will take hard downshifts, and won’t change gears unless you ask it to.

When we needed speed, that modest-size engine sucked on its turbocharger boost and delivered for us. It’s not often that you can call a 2.0-liter engine long-legged, but that’s how the allroad feels. The 8-speed transmission is a double overdrive, so 7th and 8th gears are for high speeds and fuel mileage, with lower rpm.

Meanwhile at the lower end, the torque is strong at 258 pound-feet, and its range is exceptionally broad, so acceleration awaits at any time. The allroad squirts from 0 to 60 mph in 6.4 seconds, which is only a hair slower than the A4 sedan, despite the extra weight. Fuel economy, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, is 20/27 mpg City/Highway, or 23 mpg Combined.

The brakes felt good when we used them hard on downhill curves. They’re not quite bomb-proof, because we did hit the point of fade, but until then the pedal gave good feedback. Discs are ventilated in front, where most braking occurs, but not in rear.

Quattro all-wheel drive is great, and has been for decades. It isn’t just for traction in snow, ice and rain, it improves the handling on dry pavement too. However if you live in the dry flatlands, you could live without it.

Until a wheel starts slipping, 60 percent of the drive goes to the rear wheels, for ideal driving dynamics and balance. The differential locks, for best low-speed traction. Only Subaru has the all-wheel drive chops to match Audi quattro.

Most of the suspension pieces are forged aluminum, as are the front crossmember and the hood. The rear suspension is based on the larger A6 sedan, with trapezoidal links and separate spring and shock mounts that allow a lower floor but more suspension travel, a win-win situation.

The optional Drive Select system with dynamic steering and variable damping calculates shock rates 1000 times per second. We didn’t get a chance to drive an allroad with Drive Select, but we can say from past experience that it’s hard to go wrong with programmable modes because they present such a wide spectrum of ride, handling and power.

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