|March 2, 2013
Long Term Allroad - where the rubber meets the road
By: Kris Hansen
Ok, so we acknowledge that Vermont didnít get nearly the full brunt of the massive winter storm that crippled parts of New England this winter, but nevertheless, our allroad was completely undeterred by the snow we did get. We genuinely enjoy driving in the worst possible weather conditions, assuming we have the right car. The allroad IS the right car for driving through the worst weather that winter can throw at it.
When our allroad arrived back in January, we were happy to find that it was already wearing a set of Dunlop Winter Sport 3D snow tires. Ordinarily we would opt for a tire with more snow and ice grip versus dry performance (and one which has a taller, narrower profile), but as it turns out, these tires work extremely well, even in extreme snow and ice conditions. They are also fairly quiet and not squirmy in dry weather.
As we alluded to in the opening paragraph, we did have the chance to drive in some deep snow earlier this winter. The allroad had no problem at all driving through the 15 inches or so of fresh fluffy snow we received in Vermont. The 7 inches of ground clearance helped keep the car from hanging itself up on the deeper piles of snow, while the quattro systemís ability to transfer the 2.0TFSI engineís prodigious torque to the icy ground buried beneath was confidence inspiring.
Weíre staunch advocates for proper winter tires for winter driving, and we are grateful to have good snow tires on any car, but on a car like the allroad, which practically begs to take the road less traveled, having snow tires is nearly a necessity. Not because the allroad canít make good mechanical grip with its quattro all wheel drive system, rest assured that it can. But with good snow tires, there is less worry when it comes time to turn, or stop.
ďAllĒ season tires can be passable in snow, but only if theyíre very new, and only if the temperatures donít dip much below freezing. Weíve found that once the snow gets deeper than a few inches, or the temps get near 0f, all season tires become nearly useless. This has less to do with the tread design and more to do with the rubber compound of the tire treads. All season tires must be functional in extreme heat, so the rubber must be harder to compensate. Good snow tires get all squishy at temperatures over 50 degrees or so, yet remain mostly pliable at -25f, and thatís what makes them grip. Tread design plays in as well, a tire with many ďsipesĒ cut into the tread blocks will help a tire grip much better than a tire with solid tread blocks. Itís like the difference between running on grass wearing loafers versus sneakers.
The allroad is blessed with neutral and safe handling when the going gets slippery. As we like to say, if a car handles well in the dry, it will handle well in the snow. Cars that are prone to snap oversteer arenít going to be a lot of fun on a low friction slippery snow covered road.
If we had a gripe with the allroad on snowy roads, itís that the ESP system intervenes quite dramatically, even at lower speeds, resulting in a disconcerting cut in the power. Fortunately there is a button to turn ESP off, helpful for those moments when you do need to let the car dance around a little. Or when you feel like hanging the tail out on deserted back roads. Our take on this is, if you want to take the bull by the horns so to speak, turn ESP off. If you're content to just drive very casually, the ESP works very well to keep the car pointed in the desired direction at all times.
To date weíve put just over 2000 miles on our allroad, and its been a great companion thus far. It shrugs off extreme cold (we saw one morning of -15f) and extreme snow, all while remaining comfortable and secure. We are loving the allroad at this point. It is both a wonderful cruising car, and at the same time, a sporty feeling car that doesn't mind all kinds of enthusiastic driving.
Weíre seeing around 23 mpg consistently, which given the cold weather and snow tires, and mostly around town driving, the mileage isnít all that bad. We do expect the gas mileage to improve as the temperatures increase, and we get the all season tires back on.