4-level air suspension

When it comes to suspension, offering the "best of both worlds" is a seemingly insuperable problem. The Audi allroad quattro succeeds in developing exceptional strengths off road without the driver having to accept limitations on the road - and the reverse.

Driving across rough terrain necessitates ample ground clearance, with the result that the vehicle's centre of gravity is generally high up. Yet this is detrimental to swift cornering, dynamic stability at high speeds and an economically low drag coefficient.

On the other hand, the low centre of gravity of a vehicle designed with road use in mind means that it will often make contact with the ground if driven over rough terrain. The short spring travel of a conventional passenger car will moreover make for a less than comfortable ride.

The so-called SUV (Sport Utility Vehicles) as the main competitor of the Audi allroad quattro with their design features and stylistic attributes adopted from other vehicles, such as clearly visible ground clearance at any time and the very high seating position, appeal to a rather more extrovert customer group.

Unlike the unobtrusive Audi allroad quattro, however, they are more willing to compromise in terms of on-road driveability. This deficit is especially noticeable with the top V8 engines.

A variable ground clearance on the Audi allroad quattro has led to a solution of this conflict of aims and thus to "the best of both worlds". Audi's development engineers have realised a flexible solution with an ingenious, electronically controlled air suspension system for front and rear axle.

In this way, it has become possible for the first time not only to get away from the beaten track, but also to enjoy the journey on normal roads without restrictions in dynamics, comfort or safety.

The 4-level air suspension adapts at all times

The further developed 4-level air suspension on the Audi allroad quattro adapts to a wide range of situations so that an optimum performance can be called on at all times, whilst maximum safety is also ensured.

At speeds of over 130 km/h, the vehicle is automatically lowered from its normal ride height by 25 mm. In off-road use, a ground clearance of as much as 208 mm can be achieved at a speed of up to 35 km/h.

The overhang angles of 19.5 degrees at the front and 23 degrees at the rear make it possible to cross difficult terrain, such as ditches, with reliable ease. A ramp angle of 19 degrees prevents the floor from bottoming when the car is driven over ridges, and a maximum gradient of 60 percent ensures that it can climb even steep slopes with verve.

With a tilt angle of 40 degrees, the Audi allroad quattro 4.2 demonstrates excellent stability when driven in an inclined position.

As there is now just a single mode, automatic engaging of the parking level has been eliminated and the changeover speed thresholds have been modified, the 2002 model year marks the advent of a substantially simplified ride height control system for all Audi allroad quattro models.

Extended functions of the 4-level air suspension

The ride height is adjusted automatically when the threshold speed is reached, irrespective of whether the vehicle has been started in the ride height mode indicated or whether the driver has selected that ride height manually while the vehicle is in motion. The maximum ride height 2, affording maximum ground clearance of 208 mm, must always be selected manually.

If a speed of 35 km/h is exceeded, the vehicle is lowered to ride height 1 with 192 mm ground clearance. Above 80 km/h, the standard ride height (167 mm ground clearance) is selected; if a speed of 130 km/h is exceeded for at least 30 seconds, the ground clearance is then lowered to 142 mm ("motorway mode").

If the standard ride height is re-established manually after the car has been adjusted automatically to its lowest position, the motorway mode is deactivated. The system will then no longer lower the ride height automatically if the vehicle is recurrently accelerated over the 130 km/h speed threshold.

This avoids the need to keep re-establishing the standard ride height manually or to slow down to at least 70 km/h in order to prompt the change automatically. The motorway mode will not be reactivated until the engine is next started.

The vehicle is returned from this low ride height to the standard ride height after an optimised time lapse of 120 seconds if its speed is less than 70 km/h, after 30 seconds at less than 35 km/h, and immediately if it is travelling at below 5 km/h.

If the driver starts the car at the low ride height or selects it manually while on the move, the system does not adjust it automatically according to speed. The current ride height is displayed in the instrument panel.

Tailor-made equipment

The already extensive specification of the Audi allroad quattro has been further upgraded on the new 4.2 version. The eight-cylinder version runs on 7.5 x 18 aluminium hollow-spoke wheels with 245/45 R 18 Y tyres, and sees its way with xenon headlights.

The bumpers, wheel arches and roof have been maintained in contrasting matt finish as standard. As an option though these parts can also be painted in the colour of the body.

The original, authentic design combines function and form. The underbody guard is thus enhanced visually by aluminium-look stainless steel applications at the front and rear.

Five of the nine available exterior colours are new in the programme for the Audi allroad quattro 4.2: Alpaca Beige, Burgundy Red, Ebony Black, Irish Green and Cobalt Blue, all of which have a metallic finish.

Inside the Audi allroad quattro 4.2 is trimmed in cricket leather as standard (with optional Recaro seats) in a choice of three colours and is equipped with a four-spoke leather steering wheel.

For the seats there is a choice of various materials - leather, an Alcantara/leather combination, cricket leather, Valcona leather or cloth. Whilst the Valcona leather is in a single colour, the other upholstery options are in two contrasting leather colours.

Both front seats are electrically adjustable and come with an electrically adjustable lumbar support and a folding centre armrest.

The ambience is underscored by walnut inlays on the centre console, the dashboard and the four door inner panels. There is also the Driver Information System DIS with on-board computer, Auto Check Control, outside temperature display and a radio-controlled clock.

An anti-theft alarm system monitors passenger compartment, engine and luggage compartments and a back-up horn emits a clearly audible alarm if the parked Audi allroad quattro is lifted up.

The standard-fit passive safety equipment includes airbags for the driver and front passenger, side airbags at the front and the Audi sideguard head-level airbag system.

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