So, you want to drive a luxury station wagon with four-wheel drive, one that’s not only fit for the road, but also for unpaved paths? Here’s a new option: the Audi allroad quattro.
Based on the A6, it’s Audi’s freshest model, with standard all-wheel drive and rough but stylish looks.
As all-wheel-drive specialists, Audi’s been fiddling with all-wheel drive for 20 years, since the first Quattro blasted to rally victories in the 80s. Nowadays, one out of every three new Audis is equipped with Quattro. But it took Audi time to be convinced that blending in SUV styling traits would sell more all-wheel-drive cars. Audi launched the idea for the allroad quattro in 1998 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, under the thin guise of "testing public reaction." Sport-ute buyers had already accepted the Subaru Forester and the Honda CR-V, and many wondered why Audi didn’t simply step into the market right away.
To build the allroad, Audi tapped the expertise of Steyr-Daimler-Puch, the Austrian off-road experts (they also build the Jeep Grand Cherokee for European markets). At this year’s Geneva Motor Show, Audi announced the production version of the allroad quattro, helped along with suspension development by Steyr.
Audi allroad quattro interiorEnlarge Photo
Steyr had well-defined orders: the allroad quattro needed to have enough ground clearance for driving off-road, but also exemplary behavior when driving on paved roads. It’s the classic sport-ute conundrum: good ground clearance almost always means a high center of gravity and thus less capable cornering and high-speed stability, while a low center of gravity usually makes cars unsuitable for off-road use.