February 21, 2000

Audi allroad quattro: The no-compromise all-rounder

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Curtain up for the first example of a new mobility generation at the 2000 Geneva Motor Show: Audi's allroad quattro combines the dynamic luxury of a top-class model with outstanding off-road capability.

Supreme on the road, undefeated by rough terrain - the Audi allroad quattro makes no compromises. It's the answer for drivers whose demands don't stop when the "either - or" decision between an off-roader and a roadgoing car has to be made. In the Audi allroad quattro they enjoy a perfect blend of the finest technology from both worlds.

Alternative power units are the 2.7-litre V6 "biturbo", rated at 184 kW (250 bhp) or the 2.5-litre V6 TDI, which has an output of 132 kW (180 bhp). They give the new Audi the torque and power output potential to tackle every situation with the prowess of a true high-performance athlete.

On all kinds of terrain and in every situation, Audi's permanent all-wheel driveline converts this power with unfailing efficiency into forward movement. Exclusive to the allroad quattro is the driver-engaged Low Range transmission, an option on the versions with manual-shift gearbox, for optimum progress across particularly tough terrain and on steep uphill gradients.

4-level air suspension is a feature not offered by any of the Audi allroad quattro's competitors. Both axles have air spring struts controlled by separate height sensors. These vary the ride height at every wheel to ensure optimum aerodynamics when driving at high speeds and ample ground clearance away from firm surfaces. As road speed increases, this intelligent system lowers the body in four stages, between 208 and 142 millimetres of ground clearance. The driver can also select the various ride heights by pressing a button - a useful feature if the surface under the wheels varies frequently.

The Audi allroad quattro's design communicates its highly functional character by interpreting the elegant, sporting appearance of the A6 Avant body in a new way. The wide track and a moderate increase in body height result in a highly individual, muscular silhouette. An undertray made of ribbed stainless steel, boldly shaped bumpers and flared wheel arches are immediate clues to the allroad quattro's off-road talents. This bold appearance is emphasised still more by a roof painted in a contrasting colour and with longitudinal ribs.

Exclusively for the allroad quattro, Audi's designers have created two new styles of alloy wheel: the 17-inch, 5-arm design with 225/55 tyre is standard equipment, the exclusive 5-arm double-spoke version, also with a diameter of 17 inches, is an optional extra. The tyres have been specially developed for the allroad quattro to ensure optimum road behaviour on hard surfaces as well as the best possible off-road traction.

The driver and passengers enjoy an interior that transfers the high standard offered by Audi's premium models to this new model concept. Both the materials and their workmanship again set new standards. With various subtle nuances, the designers have brought off the difficult feat of combining the direct, sporting character of the allroad quattro with the elegance of the A6's interior. Two "worlds of colour" are available: Steppe Green or Grey.

Aluminium trim in the driver's area is another exclusive reminder of the allroad quattro's advanced technological features. The interior ambience can be varied to suit personal tastes by choosing combined leather and Alcantara upholstery and fine wood trim. High-quality optional extras including the Navigation System Plus are a further means of matching the allroad quattro's technical specification to individual needs.

The front seats are a new development undertaken specifically for the allroad quattro. Their more prominent side sections ensure optimum location for the occupant's body when the allroad quattro is cornered at speed, with ample reserves of comfort for travel across rough surfaces. The seat backs are slim in outline, to ensure maximum legroom for rear-seat occupants.

The highly versatile occupant and load area makes the Audi allroad quattro an ideal form of transport for long-distance tours and for a variety of leisure activities. As an example of Audi's Avant concept, it can carry up to five people in comfort or provide a load area with a volume of up to 1,590 litres: ample space for mountain bikes or the most extensive adventure-holiday equipment. With an impressive maximum payload of 630 kilograms, the allroad quattro copes effortlessly with all such load-carrying tasks.

The allroad quattro can be regarded as a genuine all-rounder of a type that has no rivals on the automobile scene. Its versatility, its powerful engines, its 4-level air suspension and its quattro permanent all-wheel drive usher in a new era in motoring freedom without compromise.

A fine foundation: Running gear and driveline

The outstanding four-link front suspension that already contributes to the active driving pleasure of the Audi A6 and A8 is used on the Audi allroad quattro to ensure precise handling, with all the advantages of accurate feedback of the vehicle's current situation, high directional accuracy and a safe built-in self-steering effect. This suspension eliminates all noticeable driveline reactions at the steering wheel, thanks to well-designed geometry and very low off-centre disturbance forces.

The front wheel locating elements are bolted to the bodyshell by way of a weight-saving steel subframe and four rubber-to-metal bushings. These suppress running-gear vibration and decouple the body from unwanted noise and harshness. Aluminium is used for many of the wheel locating components in order to save weight, including the unsprung weight that has such a major influence on handling and ride comfort.

At the rear of the allroad quattro, the double-wishbone suspension has been designed for compact dimensions and maximum directional stability. The triangulated upper and lower wishbones locate the rear wheels, with toe angle control and cornering stability assured by two control arms. As at the front, these suspension elements are attached to the vehicle's body by way of a rigid subframe designed to resist torsional and bending stresses, and rubber-to-metal bushings. This design principle ensures the highest standard of dynamism and ride quality.

Connect four: The quattro all-wheel drive principle

Ever since the original quattro appeared in 1980, in other words for twenty successive years, Audi's quattro permanent all-wheel drive has demonstrated its superiority and its potential on every kind of terrain time and time again in rallying and motor racing.

All four wheels are permanently driven on vehicles that feature the quattro concept. Ideally, therefore, each road wheel only has to transmit half as much tractive force as on a vehicle with only one driven axle. Thanks to this, each wheel can exert more lateral locating force on the road surface - the essential factor for outstanding cornering and excellent directional stability in a straight line.

The quattro driveline also ensures maximum traction on wet roads on loose surfaces such as gravel or stone chipping, on ice and on snow-covered roads. The Audi allroad quattro has a Torsen self-locking centre differential between the front and rear axles that enables up to two-thirds of the engine's power to be diverted to one axle or the other. Together with the Electronic Differential Lock (EDL), which remains in effect up to a road speed of 100 km/h, the quattro driveline maintains forward progress even if only one wheel has sufficient tyre grip at any given moment.

It is an appropriate acknowledgement of this magnificent principle that the Audi allroad quattro should be making its debut in the year 2000, when the quattro driveline celebrates its twentieth anniversary. The new Audi model demonstrates its off-road talents in the same unrivalled fashion as its dynamic, sporting character on the road. Compared with previous quattro-equipped models, however, it has two additional technical features that add to its off-road capability: 4-level air suspension with increased ground clearance, and the optional Low Range transmission on manual-gearbox versions for even greater traction when needed.

Riding high: 4-level air suspension

Audi's chassis and suspension development engineers are used to being asked to square the circle, but a vehicle that delivers equally perfect results on the road and across difficult, rough terrain - surely that's impossible, since the very characteristics that make for an effective off-roader are potential weak points when driving on the road.

To be more specific: generous ground clearance is essential when crossing rough terrain, but it raises the vehicle's centre of gravity. This in turn makes fast cornering more difficult and could reduce stability at high speeds, as well as adversely affecting the vehicle's aerodynamics. A competent road car should therefore have a low centre of gravity, but it would never do for its body to come into contact with the ground on rough tracks or extreme gradients. In any case, the limited suspension travel of a conventional road car would tend to reduce ride comfort on such poor surfaces.

The answer is obvious: a specialist vehicle for all kinds of surfaces needs variable ground clearance. Audi's development engineers therefore designed a most ingenious, electronically controlled air suspension for both the front and rear wheels off the allroad quattro.

No competing model has anything comparable to offer. It enables the ground clearance to be varied by as much as 66 millimetres, with four distinct ride heights between 142 and 208 millimetres at the driver's disposal: a broad basis for all driving conditions, with either a low centre of gravity or extra ground clearance available as the situation demands.

Integrated ride height control keeps the selected level constant automatically, regardless of changes in the vehicle's payload or weight distribution.

The key elements in this system are the air supply unit and the electronic control system, both of which are installed at the rear of the vehicle. Each road wheel has a ride-height sensor that detects ground clearance and adjusts the relevant air spring strut separately until the correct ride height is restored.

The Audi allroad quattro's lowest ride height is intended for optimum travel at speeds above 120 km/h in particular. Ground clearance is reduced, which has the effect of lowering aerodynamic drag quite considerably - a major factor in avoiding excessive fuel consumption at high speeds. This is an important design feature that the typical off-roader with its poor aerodynamics, cannot match.

The normal ride height, which is 25 millimetres higher, is suitable in particular for driving on firm road surfaces at up to 120 km/h, and ensures dynamic progress with a convincing standard of refinement and ride comfort.

A further 25 millimetres of ground clearance are obtained in raised suspension level 1, which is ideal for not-too-severe off-road driving. The road speed can be up to 80 km/h, at which point the allroad quattro is automatically lowered to the normal suspension setting. Raised position 1 is selected automatically when the vehicle is parked with the automatic ride height control activated.

Finally, there is raised suspension level 2, which adds a further 16 millimetres of ground clearance, bringing it up to 208 millimetres, and makes the Audi allroad quattro capable of tackling even very rough terrain. Undulating surfaces and steep slopes are then no obstacle, and together with the all-wheel drive enable the most severe gradients to be climbed successfully.

Ride height can be controlled either fully automatically or manually at a dash-panel control unit above the centre console. This gives the driver push-button control of the most suitable suspension setting.

From any ride height, the next-lower setting can be selected immediately. A LED display indicates when the chosen setting has been selected or if the adjustment is still in progress. Electronic interlocks prevent the driver from accidentally choosing too high a ride height, for instance when the vehicle is being driven fast.

The intelligent control unit selects ground clearance according to road speed, in other words when the driver accelerates beyond predetermined speed limits, the body is automatically lowered; at lower speeds it will be raised again if specific road-speed conditions are satisfied. For example, above 35 km/h the body is always lowered from raised level 2 to raised level 1, and above 80 km/h it is lowered further to the normal ride height setting.

However, if road speeds vary frequently, this does not mean that the ride height constantly changes, since the occupants of the vehicle could well find this irritating. A delay circuit ensures that before the ride height is reset automatically, the allroad quattro must have been moving continuously for at least thirty seconds above or below the predetermined adjusting speed.

The high dynamic safety standard achieved by this technology is enhanced still further by automatic activation of the standard Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) in raised suspension levels 1 and 2. This ensures that the vehicle's cornering behaviour is never seriously affected by the higher centre of gravity.

Progress in all situations: The Low Range transmissions

Extreme situations call for exceptional methods to handle them. Even an Audi quattro model with its well-proven all-wheel drive system has everything in its favour when the going gets difficult and the surface is treacherous. For the manual-gearbox version of the allroad quattro, Audi's driveline experts have developed an additional technical feature, available as an optional extra, that is normally only available on vehicles specially intended for severe off-road use: the Low Range transmission, which reduces the overall gearbox ratios by a factor of 1.54.

The effect of this can best be illustrated by comparing a car's road speed at 1,000 rpm engine speed: if it is 7.9 km/h in the regular 1st gear, it will be only 4.9 km/h when the Low Range is selected.

Low Range can be engaged at any speed up to 30 km/h, simply by declutching and pressing the button on the gear lever. The driver can return to the regular gear ratio just as easily.

The Low Range ratio can remain in use up to 50 km/h, but if the driver tries to accelerate to a higher speed, an audible warning is heard and the "Low Range" display flashes on the instrument panel. Above 70 km/h, a further increase in speed is prevented by an electronic governor.

This optional extra helps the driver to apply engine torque carefully even at the very lowest speeds. The allroad quattro can be manoeuvred on very uneven or slippery surfaces or on steep gradients far more easily and confidently with this additional traction aid in use. Low Range also helps on very steep downhill slopes by boosting the engine braking effect considerably, so that the driver can tackle such difficult passages at the ideal speed.

Towing heavy trailers, a horsebox for example, across a field is far easier with the Low Range transmission, which enables the allroad quattro to pull loads of up to 2,300 kilograms in weight.

Running well: Wheels and tyres

Before allroad quattro development had progressed very far, Audi's development engineers knew that no existing tyre-industry product would give them the performance they needed. They were not looking for a road tyre with a limited amount of off-road capability, nor for a full-scale off-road tyre with no more than adequate road behaviour.

The tyres for the allroad quattro obviously had to possess the best characteristics from both performance areas, with no compromises necessary either on or off the road. Optimum traction on grass, for instance, was called for in just the same way as suitability for high speeds.

A totally new type of tyre in size 225/55 R 17 W was therefore developed in cooperation with two leading tyre manufacturers. It satisfies all these varied requirements most impressively. Much of the extended performance is due to the use of new silicate mix formulations and changes to the actual structure of the tyre.

The Audi allroad quattro's tyres have yet another remarkable property: the tread pattern itself reflects the vehicle's character. The tyre designers have succeeded in concentrating all the varied potential applications, dynamism and performance of the allroad quattro in the new tread structure.

Also developed specifically for the allroad quattro: the two types of alloy wheel. Standard equipment is a 5-arm wheel of size 7.5 x 17, with a 5-arm double-spoke design of the same size as an optional extra. A silver metallic paint finish is applied with great care, and highlights the contrast between the lighter and darker surfaces. The brushed aluminium hub cap adds an exclusive note and emphasises the high-tech character of these wheels.

2.7 biturbo and 2.5 TDI: The V6 engines

Both V6 engines for the Audi allroad quattro are not only powerful but also extremely quiet-running: a 2.7-litre twin-turbocharger ("biturbo") unit developing 184 kW (250 bhp) and a 2.5-litre turbocharged direct-injection (TD) engine that has an output rating of 132 kW (180 bhp). Both can be obtained with either a 6-speed manual-shift gearbox or with 5-speed tiptronic automatic transmission. Whichever engine or transmission the driver chooses, all versions of the allroad quattro are in the top motoring league as far as performance and refinement are concerned.

The 2.7-litre "biturbo", with five valves per cylinder, is also available in the Audi S4 and A6 models, where it develops either 195 kW (265 bhp) or 169 kW (230 bhp). The engine's peripherals have been revised for use in the allroad quattro. As well as five valves per cylinder, it has a water-cooled turbocharger, charge-air intercooling, sequential fuel injection and adaptive knock and boost pressure control. A change in the boost pressure and suitably modified mapped characteristics in the engine-management control unit are the principal modifications made for this engine to be used in the allroad quattro.

The first and foremost requirement in the design specification was for abundant torque to be available at low engine speeds. The result is impressive, to say the least: the maximum torque of 350 Newton-metres is available over a broad rev band from 1,800 to 4,500 rpm. The 2.7 "biturbo" performs in a manner resembling a naturally aspirated engine of distinctly larger capacity.

The flow of power is tremendous, and continues unbroken until the nominal engine-speed limit of 5,800 rpm is reached. In conjunction with the 6-speed manual gearbox, this represents a top speed of 236 km/h. Acceleration from 0 - 100 km/h in 7.4 seconds and a flexibility figure of 13.7 seconds for acceleration from 60 to 120 km/h in sixth gear are further clues to the sheer dynamism of the Audi allroad quattro 2.7T.

For all its performance, the V6 "biturbo" is modest when it comes to fuel consumption - a sign of operating efficiency. The allroad quattro with 6-speed manual gearbox and this engine needs only 12.8 litres per 100 kilometres according to the 93/116/EC standard test.

With this gearbox and the V6 "biturbo" engine it is possible to drive in a relaxed, economical manner but always to have the potential for more dynamic progress at one's fingertips, so to speak. The 5-speed tiptronic transmission available as an optional extra is an even greater source of comfort and convenience, without sacrificing any of Audi's proverbial driving pleasure.

The TDI version of the allroad quattro is also a genuine pleasure to drive. This is the most powerful, sporting version of the V6 TDI, which since the beginning of 2000 has also been available in the A6 and A8. From a displacement of 2.5 litres it develops 132 kW (180 bhp) at 4,000 rpm, and has a maximum torque of 370 Nm that is available between 1,500 and 2,500 rpm. With a specific power output of 53 kW (72 bhp) per litre, this refined, powerful Audi TDI currently leads the field among series-production diesels anywhere in the world.

The engine is supplied with fuel by a VP 44-S3 three-plunger radial injection pump with separate solenoid-valve controlled pilot injection. This system permits injection pressures of up to 1,850 bar to be achieved. Thanks to highly efficient exhaust emission control, a pre-converter installed close to the engine and a downstream oxidating catalytic converter, this 132 kW engine easily complies with the EU III emission limits.

With the 6-speed manual-shift gearbox, the allroad quattro 2.5 TDI accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 9.5 seconds and has a top speed of 207 km/h. The engine's pulling power enables it to spurt from 60 to 120 km/h, in only 15.7 seconds in 6th gear. Such performance figures are all the more surprising when set against the TDI's remarkable fuel economy: the total consumption according to the 93/116/EG standard test is only 8.9 litres of diesel oil per 100 kilometres.

The abundant torque is the secret of this model's remarkable pulling power: the version with 5-speed tiptronic in particular is ideal for supremely relaxed travel at high average speeds and minimum fuel consumption.

Form and function: Design

Elegance and authenticity, visual appeal and functional efficiency: with its boldly penned lines and unmistakable details the Audi allroad quattro has the courage to follow an individual path. Audi's designers have deliberately refrained from allowing any of the elements in its styling from overwhelming the rest. Just as the Audi allroad quattro's exceptional versatility is implied in its name, so its attractive appearance reflects its character from the user's point of view. At the same time the innovating styling never fails to confirm that the allroad quattro is an Audi with all the characteristic qualities of this brand.

The exterior

4,810 millimetres long and 1,852 millimetres wide, the Audi allroad quattro clearly demonstrates its membership of the top motoring class. Its height of 1,551 millimetres (in raised suspension setting 1) also sets it apart from the bulk of other cars on the road. The flared wheel arches contain boldly styled 17-inch wheels of 5-arm design that add to its stalwart appearance.

This assertive design is none the less in harmony with the dynamic lines of the Avant-style body, thus emphasising the close links between the off-road side of its character with the noble aspirations of a sports roadgoing vehicle.

Numerous design details point to the Audi allroad quattro's qualities as an off-road specialist. A longitudinally ribbed stainless steel undertray at the front and rear adds a powerful visual element to these areas. Similar ribs run along the roof panel. The roof is painted in a contrasting colour to the main body and thus becomes an independent design element which, like the similarly finished wheel arches and bumpers, adds contour to the body.

The roof rails and rear trim strip, the polished side window frames and the door capping strips are available in an "aluminium look" as an optional extra. They emphasise the allroad quattro's long, elegant outline. Stainless steel is used for the twin exhaust tailpipes at the left and right.

The Audi allroad quattro is being launched in two colour schemes: Highland Green metallic and Atlas Grey metallic; Brilliant Black and Light Silver will be available later.

The interior

Inside the Audi allroad quattro too, the driver is always fully aware of sitting at the wheel of a very special vehicle. Audi's designers have created two "worlds of colour" specially for the interior of this model, with the colours and design features matched to the exterior paint finish. These Steppe Green/Fern Green and Black/Grey colour combinations accentuate both the functional design and the elegance of the interior equally effectively.

Chrome rings for the circular instrument dials and the steering-wheel airbag module add further touches of high quality to the interior. The high gloss burr walnut wood trim package available as an optional extra is an additional means of emphasising the restrained nobility of the design.

The front seats are also of special pattern, developed exclusively for the allroad quattro. Without restricting the occupant's freedom of movement in any way, they provide excellent lateral support, so that the driver and front-seat passenger are held securely even when crossing very rough terrain. The centre seat panel, like the door trims, is in "Karo" check cloth; the side sections of the seats are in a matching plain material.

If the allroad quattro owner chooses the "Cricket" leather or the combination of leather and Alcantara available as optional extras, the centre seat panels and door trims are in this case in lighter-coloured material, though still in accordance with the chosen "world of colour". The side seat sections are darker to provide the required element of colour contrast.

Sport and luxury: Equipment and trim

The interior lighting scheme is extremely well-planned, with correctly positioned light sources to suit the occupants' needs. There are for instance two additional diode lights in the roof lining above the centre console, for subdued illumination of this area when the vehicle's main lights are switched on. As a safety precaution, active reflectors are installed in all doors and on the tailgate, and the integrated entry/exit lights are a useful feature after dark.

Among the many highly convenient standard items of equipment is central locking with a radio-operated remote control, with the aid of which the windows can also be opened or closed conveniently when the doors are locked or unlocked. By pressing the button for a longer period, the glass-panel or solar-cell sunroof, if fitted, can also be closed.

Another invaluable standard equipment item: the automatic air conditioning system, a quiet-running, high-performance unit that includes solar-intensity control. The interior temperature is separately adjustable for the driver's and front passenger's sides of the vehicle, as one would expect in this category, and cool air can also be directed to the rear passenger area through ducts in the centre-tunnel console.

The asymmetrically split, folding rear seat back, the load-area cover and dividing net, the roof rails and the 12-volt power socket in the load area are also standard equipment items.

As an optional extra, the anti-theft alarm system adds to the protection afforded by the electronic immobiliser. All doors can be locked at a switch on the driver's door. Another accessory is the Driver Information System (DIS) with integral Auto-Check Control, which displays many items of useful information including outside temperature, average fuel consumption or warnings of blown bulbs in the vehicle's lighting system. Two speed limits can also be stored: an audible warning is given if they are exceeded. The DIS display also acts as the central monitor screen for either of the two Audi navigation systems, which are available as optional extras.

A full range of optional equipment which allows customers to put their own personal stamp on their vehicle includes for example the Acoustic Parking System, heat-insulating glass, the solar-cell sunroof, a navigation system with display screen and built-in TV reception, a sports leather-covered steering wheel with tiptronic transmission controls or a multifunctional steering wheel, in both cases with the option of electric position adjustment. All these items enable owners to choose the ideal specification to suit their needs and preferences. An interesting new option is the automatic tyre pressure monitoring system, and the list also includes a permanently installed car phone or preparation for a cellular phone, and various audio systems, some of which can be combined with the BOSE Sound System.

Only the best: Safety

Compared with off-road vehicles of conventional design, the Audi allroad quattro possesses at least one crucial safety advantage: its basic construction concept. Whereas conventional off-roaders often have a relatively weak body structure mounted on a rigid ladder-type chassis frame, this Audi model uses a torsionally rigid, load-bearing bodyshell into which a safety occupant cell is integrated and surrounded by programmed impact-absorbing "crumple zones". This represents a safety bonus that cannot be overestimated in practical driving conditions.

Side airbags located in the front seat backs provide additional protection in the event of a "sideswipe" collision, regardless of the position of the seat in relation to the car's interior. Driver's and front passenger's airbags, seat belts with belt force limiters at the front and pyrotechnic-action tensioners on all lap and shoulder belts are standard features, and the allroad quattro's rear seat is also prepared for installation of the ISOFIX standard child's seat mounting system.

Optional-extra side airbags in the rear seat backs and the Audi SIDEGUARD head-level airbag curtain system, another optional extra, round off the complete safety package for the Audi allroad quattro.

When triggered off, SIDEGUARD drops down to cover effectively the entire side-window area and, if an accident should occur, provides those occupying the front and outer rear seats with additional head and neck area protection. The decisive advantage of these large-area curtain airbags as installed by Audi compared with systems intended to fulfil a similar purpose is that SIDEGUARD has a special inflated air chamber layout that protects the occupant against injury caused by violent contact with the A-posts of the car's body.

Unlike the front airbags, the head-level side airbag system remains inflated for approximately five seconds, to provide protection against a subsequent roll-over or secondary impact.

The Audi allroad quattro also achieves optimum levels of active safety. The Electronic Stability Program (ESP) is part of its standard equipment. ESP continuously monitors the parameters that affect dynamic stability and takes action automatically if the vehicle threatens to slide or depart from the chosen line. Using data from the anti-lock braking (ABS), electronic differential lock (EDL) and traction control (ASR) systems, ESP assesses the vehicle's momentary dynamic situation. From the wheel rotating speeds and additional signals from steering angle, yaw rate and lateral acceleration sensors, the electronics can detect any under- or oversteering tendency.

ESP counteracts oversteer by applying the outer front-wheel brake to the necessary extent; in the event of understeer, the inner rear wheel brake is applied for a short period. The combination of permanent all-wheel drive and ESP makes the Audi allroad quattro one of the safest vehicles on the market.

The equipment, trim and data described and quoted here refer to the model programme as offered for sale in Germany. The right to introduce changes is reserved. Errors and omissions excepted.

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