By Kris Hansen
Without question, the Audi allroad quattro is a great car for going on nealy any kind of adventure. Thanks to the increased ground clearance and quattro all wheel drive, it can get you farther off the beaten path than normal cars. Even though the allroad isnt really designed for off road use, that wont stop it from taking you up 2 track jeep roads, or across muddy or snowy roads. The limiting factor will be if there are many large rocks, or deep mud, or situations where you can get the car high centered, so care must be taken.
The thing weve noticed about adventure seekers is that they tend to have a lot of stuff to bring along on their adventures. Things like skis, snowboards, bikes, kayaks, etc, or other big things that have no hope of fitting inside the car, or things that are too messy to put in the car. Or maybe you dont want to fold the rear seats down because you have more than one friend or family member to bring along.
We’ve been fans of Audis back seat pass-through for a very long time (since our 1984 5000s), and were a bit surprised to find that the allroad had no provision for putting long items through the armrest slot. Maybe its a safety thing, maybe people dont want skis in the car any more, but nevertheless, we were bummed, and confused, and were left needing a way to carry our skis, while retaining use of the back seats. The only real option is to go up.
The allroad comes with raised aluminum roof rails which make mounting a roof rack very simple, though they do require a rack system with mounting feet specifically designed for this kind of rail (There are a seemingly limitless number of mounting kits available). To find out which rack system would best fit our allroad, we contacted Thule America to see what they recommended.
We were sent a complete kit, consisting of the 450R Rapid Crossroad mounting feet, and the ARB53 AeroBlade load bars. These aluminum bars have a teardrop shaped profile, which allow them to slice a very clean hole through the air. We mounted these up to the roof rails, and went for a drive to see if they held true to Thules claims for nearly silent operation, and were happy to report that they are in fact essentially silent. Even with the sunroof open, there is only a slight wind noise from the AreoBlade overhead. We think these bars add to the rough and tumble nature of the allroad nicely, and the silver aluminum is a nice upgrade from the older black crossbars.
Assembling the AeroBlades and the mounting feet is relatively easy, and all required tools (one allen key per foot) are included. Once the basic rack is assembled, mounting or removing it is literally a 2 minute affair.
Because we wanted to use our allroad for ski trips, Thule also sent us one of their 635S Sonic XL cargo boxes. This is the longest box that can be carried on the allroad while still maintaining the ability to open the rear hatch all the way without contact. The 635s Sonic box is quite large indeed. It is long enough to swallow up to a 195cm ski, and lots of them, or skis, snowboards, sleds, folding chairs, luggage, etc. This cargo box can open from either side, which is a very nice feature indeed. Skis on one side, luggage on the other, no problem for this box.
The Sonic’s mounting system is very clever, and could not be easier to use. One thing that can hold people back from choosing a roof box is the complicated mounting systems of old. Throw those thoughts right out of the window, thanks to the new Thule mounting system. 4 claw style clamps are mounted on sliding platforms on the bottom of the box, allowing for a range of crossbar placement. These clamps can wrap around nearly any crossbar (including many factory installed bars) with a few turns of the internal handwheels. The mounting torque is regulated by the mount, which clicks when the maximum torque is achieved. It is possible for one burly person to mount this box solo by the way, though having 2 people certainly makes it easier.
With the Sonic box on the allroad, there is a bit more wind noise, but certainly nothing too horrendous, and not louder than the tire noise from the winter treads. Even when loaded with skis and some luggage, the allroad didnt feel tipsy or off balance in any way. This was our first experience with any kind of roof box, and we came away sold on the concept, even if it means using extra care in low clearance garages, and having the view out the sunroof blocked.
With the incredibly easy attachment, we found that we would take it off and put it back on when needed, making it all the more enjoyable.
Our allroad continues to be a most excellent companion for any kind of driving. We have a few road trips coming up in the next month, and were looking forward to getting a feel for the long haul abilities of the car, and looking to see if we can get a real feel for highway miles as they relate to economy. Were still seeing generally around 23 mpg per tank (miles driven/gallons filled). Not too great for a 4 cylinder in our opinion, and makes us wonder what the 3.0TFSI would be like, and also makes us REALLY wonder what the 3.0TDI would be like in this platform. We also know that winter weather is brutal on fuel mileage, so well stop complaining about it till the weather is warmer.