By Kris Hansen
Audi has the market cornered on cool gadgets and brilliant features in their cars. Our allroad came with what we consider to be some of the most difficult to live without items, already installed. These are things that improve the ownership and driving experience immensely, but aren’t really required to get from point A to point B. But that’s really not the point of owning a car like the allroad, is it.
First and foremost is the advanced key, which is part of the Prestige package on the allroad. We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again, this is one feature that once you have it, you never want to be without it. There is nothing nicer than not having to fish the key out of your pocket to open the doors, and then start the engine. Same for locking the car, just press the little rectangle on the door handle, and walk away. Speaking of locking, using the MMI, we set our car up with no audible alert, and to fold the mirrors on locking, just because we could. It’s one of the cool things you can do to customize your car, right from the driver’s seat.
Audi’s MMI Navigation Plus system is among the best offered on any car, and with Audi Connect, which gets you a dedicated wireless data connection and Google map overlays on the navigation screen, it just gets better. Add to the awesomeness of the MMI system the newly updated and actually functional voice control, this system is impossible to beat. The voice control can be used to operate nearly all functions within the MMI system, and is most useful for calling up online destinations. Making use of the wireless data connection, this system uses the GPS location and Google combined to determine which of your requested destinations is closest. We’ve found this system to be incredibly useful, and surprisingly accurate.
The allroad’s Bang and Oulfsen sound system is also very, very good. This isn’t the same over the top 15+ speaker system from the bigger cars, but is instead made up of 10 speakers, with 505 watts of power. In the relatively small cabin, and with no parcel shelf to deaden the bass from the subwoofer, the sound quality is very good. Again, we customized the system using the MMI to turn off GALA, which we felt trimmed too much bass out of the sound, as well as tweaking the overall surround level to around 50% for a more natural sound. The more we sit and listen on this system, the more we like it.
Audi’s adaptive headlights are really quite interesting. First, the HIDs are nice and bright, with a good high beam, something that many bi-xenon lights struggle with. Second, the adaptive lights actually pivot from side to side, up to 15 degrees, as the steering wheel is turned. As strange as it sounds, it’s as if the light bends around the turns, helping you see that much farther down the road. Of course, the LED daylight running lights are uber cool, and the LED tail lights are insanely bright and ultra stylish.
Our allroad has the sports interior package, which consists of a pair of sporty front seats with slide out thigh supports, as well as the restyled 3 spoke steering wheel with shift paddles, which make taking control of the 8 speed Tiptronic transmission a breeze. This steering wheel is absolutely worth the price of the sports interior by the way. It is perfectly sized, and perfectly sculpted.
So far, so good with our allroad. We’ve had the chance to drive in some snow and ice, where it performed admirably. The taller ride height made plowing through snowbanks a total breeze. The copious torque from the 2.0TFSI engine helped the car claw its way up hills, no matter how steep, no matter how deep the snow. Great fun, no question, but also very stable and secure.
We took a small road trip to Boston, where the car was phenomenally good, both on the highway, and in the city. The ride height doesn’t impact the high speed stability at all, and the taller tires soak up the notoriusly horrible Boston roads with ease.
We’re seeing around 24mpg so far, which, given the snow tires and very cold weather we’ve been experiencing, is pretty good. It’s not anything to write home about for a 4 cylinder engine though. We’re hoping that this improves as the temperatures warm up and we get the all season tires back on.
One thing we do miss with the allroad is a seat pass-through from the luggage compartment for longer items, such as skis. This is something that Audi has done since 1984, and yet this allroad doesn’t have it, which we find perplexing. Even if it had a simple hole in the seat back, or better still, the 40/20/40 seatback instead of the 60/40 standard folding seat, we’d be thrilled, but for now we can’t use the allroad to go skiing till we get a roof rack. Bummer.