The West

Wagons roll for Audi s Allroad
Audi A4 Allroad. Supplied picture

Before you head off in Audi's latest Allroad versions of the A4 and A6, you need to have a serious discussion with the onboard computer and establish who's boss.

It's actually not just one computer but a team of management systems that are all in the same militant union.

If you're an enthusiast and just get in and drive, as I did last week, initially in pouring rain, cyclonic winds and flying tree branches on roads inland from Queensland's Sunshine Coast, you're in for some frustration.

I settled into luxurious leather- trimmed seats, looking at wood (ash) inlays on the dash and doors, listening to the Bang & Olufsen sound system and eagerly anticipating Audi's highly responsive 2.0-litre turbo-diesel and some punchy torque firing me out of tight bends.

But what I got was a system that said "Nein".

The transmission softened the change points and the throttle softened the response, so that it felt like a classic case of turbo lag.

Then I remembered what the Audi people had told me about setting the drive parameters.

A couple of clicks through the system screen menu, a twirl of the dial and the electronics got behind me instead of getting in the way. I was back in happy land again and the Audi was an all-wheel-drive wagon I could not only own but really enjoy.

In essence, Audi has developed a system that can be tweaked to turn the same vehicle into an up-market shopping car, a horse person's all-rounder, a sports wagon or - in the Eastern States, at least - a snow country express that will probably get by without chains, all with a few clicks through the settings screen.

Apart from the overwhelming technology that governs every function of the car, at the core of the A4 is that great 2.0-litre diesel that I enjoyed in the "on-road" sedans I drove earlier this year.

The bigger A6 has the even more impressive 3.0-litre version, with 38 per cent more power and 53 per cent more torque, which goes a long way to justifying the extra cost of the A6, even before you consider the larger size and extra features.

In both cars the seven-speed S-tronic dual-clutch transmission with paddle shifts allows you to match power and torque to any road conditions, and providing you haven't left the settings in calm down mode, these all-wheel-drive wagons are lively, highly responsive and frugal on fuel.

You can adjust the suspension by a total of six centimetres for the farm driveways that need extra ground clearance.

Audi told me that the A4 and A6 models would be bought by 40-50 year olds with dual incomes (higher for the A6 of course), multiple cars in the garage, an active lifestyle and a penchant for good food and wine.

That thins it down a bit. But that's not a worry to Audi. They're only bringing in 150 of each and the options list is minimal.

You'll pay $69,990 for 130kW and 380Nm in the A4, and $117,900 for 180kW and 580Nm in the bigger A6.

Audi's latest Allroad models blend ultra-high technology with stimulating performance and all available comfort and connectivity features.

It's a mix that makes the A4 and A6 enjoyable destinations before you even arrive.

The West Australian

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