November 8, 2000

Audi's allroad quattro
Text and photos by Neil McGarry

Audi's new allroad quattro, built in Neckarsulm, is now being delivered to dealers near you. The award winning 2.7 liter biturbo motor finds a new home in this crossover vehicle or SUV alternative. The five valve head combined with a narrow bore and a long stroke, create a wave of torque and provides low vehicle emissions. The engine produces 250 bhp at 5800 rpm and 258 lbs-ft of torque from a low 1850 to 4500 rpm. Equipped with the quattro IV system and a Tiptronic or manual 6 speed transmission, the allroad offers un-compromised on road performance with outstanding off road ability. The optional driver-engaged Low Range with 6 speed transmission will not be offered in North America for the model year 2001.

Three Dimensional chassis

Quattro, ESP and Height adjustable suspension make up the truly unique allroad chassis. Both axles have air spring struts controlled by separate height sensors and are driven by an electric pump in the rear of the vehicle. Ride height is variable at every wheel to ensure ample ground clearance for off road and optimum aerodynamics when driving at high speeds. The durability of the auto leveling pneumatic system is enforced with rubber compounds designed for prolonged use in extreme conditions. This four level air suspension ranges from 5.6 to 8.2 inches of ground clearance.

Ride height can be controlled either fully automatically or manually at a dash-panel control unit above the center console. Manual adjustment changes take ~15 seconds between levels and the dampening and rebound rates soften as the vehicle is raised. Manual mode is also used in towing and an Audi supplied, dealer installable trailer hitch will soon be released. The allroad is rated to tow 3300 lbs with a 220lbs tongue weight and has an interior cargo volume of 73 cubic feet.

New body cladding with bold fender flares on the outside and under body cladding made with ribbed stainless steel protects the oil pan. Additional protection is added for the fuel/brake lines and suspension. The floor pan is 20% thicker than a standard A6 Avant. There are also additional reinforced welds around the A/B/C pillars and to areas around the subframes. With higher standard options on the allroad and the additional weight from the engine, suspension and reinforcements, the allroad weighs in at 4233lbs, 280lbs heavier than a standard A6 Avant.

The allroad does have a bold stance shown through its wider track and the moderate increase in body height. The roof is painted in a contrasting color and is shaped with longitudinal ribs. Interior amenities include a new dual tone interior with a lighter walnut trim along with a new instrument cluster. New seats were designed for the allroad with larger bolsters than the standard A6 seats but not quite as deep as A6 sport seats.

On road manners are remarkable for a vehicle of this size and weight. The dampening and rebound rates of the suspension are firmer the lower the suspension is set. At 75mph or above the suspension is automatically lowered to its lowest setting. The allroad is a true sports wagon in the handling department.

Off road manners are just as good. Turn off the ESP and hit the dirt roads for some four wheel drifting. There is more than enough power on tap to rip through the corners. Turn it back on if you want to play it safe. Raise the suspension and crawl over rocks, ruts and gullies. The allroad sports a 23 degree departure angle with the front approach being 19 degrees.

Most manufactures would never dream on introducing a new vehicle to the press at a power zapping elevation of over 8000 feet, but the biturbo engine can negate some of thin air problems. Beaver Creek, CO was the perfect location for combined driving on interstates and back country trails, to prove the allroad has what it takes to tackle the most demanding road or off road conditions.

Audi is on a roll in North America, with a projected sales of over 80,000 units and the best ever year. Planning to capitalize on the crossover vehicle market with the allroad, Audi plans to sell 500 units a month in the US and 50 units a month in Canada. The allroad's competitors include the Mercedes ML, BMW X5, RX300 and sport wagons from Volvo and BMW. Audi's total luxury market share for the model year 2000 was 6.4% and 5.6% for 1999.

allroad Photos:
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