Back in 1996, Subaru introduced the first in a new breed of family cars, the all-wheel- drive Legacy Outback. And while some thought the idea of a sport-utility station wagon to be a bit odd, the Outback went on to be a huge success. Now, other companies are trying their hand at the same concept. The latest of these is this Audi Allroad. It’s a machine that Audi claims offers the best features of both a tough sport-utility vehicle, and the world’s finest luxury sedans. Now that’s a tall order, even for a company like Audi! But then, the 2001 Audi Allroad Quattro is more than just a pumped up wagon. In fact, it boasts more technology than all of the most advanced SUVs put together. Based on the already impressive A6 Avant Quattro, the Allroad is Audi’s ultimate crossover vehicle. A machine designed to out-luxury a premium sedan, yet match the off-road abilities of high end SUVs. This results, however, in styling that struggles to blend the unique aluminum body’s dignified European lines, and the big-tire aggression of a serious off-roader. The prominent fender flares and big 225/55 Pirelli tires on 17-inch aluminum wheels do visually boost the Allroad’s ground clearance. Which can actually be varied from 5.6-inches to 8.2-inches, thanks to a sophisticated air- adjustable multi-link suspension. Standard ride height is 6.6-inches. But accelerate past 60 miles-per-hour, and it automatically drops an inch for aerodynamics. Off-road, you can manually raise the Allroad clearance to as much as 8.2-inches depending on your speed. Variations come from a high pressure compressor that pumps up reservoirs on each shock. The shocks are similar to those used in the A6 Avant’s rear load leveling suspension.
To propel the Allroad along both street and trail, Audi has equipped it with the same 2.7- liter, twin-turbo, 30-valve, V6 used in the S4 and the A6 2.7T sedans. It delivers 250 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Which feeds through either a 6-speed manual, or a 5-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission, and into Audi’s proven Quattro all-wheel-drive system. Permanently engaged, a self-locking Torsen center differential can direct up to two-thirds of the engine’s torque front or rear as needed. An electronic brake differential also uses ABS hardware to limit wheel spin and redirect torque. Such exceptional four-corner traction means 60 miles-per-hour is reached in only 7.4 seconds! And the 1/4 mile in a brisk 15.6 seconds at 90 miles-per-hour. And the Allroad is impressively refined, as well. From the smooth torquey engine, to the slick-shifting Tiptronic, the harmony befits any high-end European luxury sedan. And while it may look like the confused offspring of an A6 and an SUV, Allroad handling is all proper Germanic sport sedan. Cornering balance is excellent, with little of the understeer normally found in all-wheel drive machines. Handling technology includes standard ESP electronic stability skid control. Thanks to ABS, there were no skids when braking. Allroad’s 4-wheel discs needed only 125 feet to stop from 60. The Allroad is rock solid, and tracks straight as an arrow. This is an SUV? But it is! Jack up the ground clearance, and the Allroad proves to be quite capable where the tarmac turns to dust. We don’t ever expect to see one jumping stumps in the deep woods. But we have no doubt that the Allroad can tackle any winter storm that you’re brave enough to drive through. And get you there in superb comfort. For a German car, the Allroad’s interior is quite posh, with plenty of wood, leather, and bright trim. Plus, there is a full complement of front and side airbags. The dash was lifted straight from the A6, with legible, chrome ringed gauges, and straightforward controls for the stereo and optional navigation system, and very intuitive climate controls. Rear seat headroom is good, though we expect a touch more leg room in a wagon this size. No complaints about cargo space, however. A total of 73 cubic feet is plenty for family excursions. And, how much for all this all-wheel drive wizardry? The Audi Allroad Quattro carries a base price of $42,450. The Tiptronic adds $1,000, and the navigation system $1,630 more. While not inexpensive, the Allroad is inline with the comparably equipped BMW X5 3.0i and Volvo V70 Cross Country. And the Allroad is more exclusive, and at least as capable as either.
Engine: 2.7- Liter, Twin-turbo, 30-valve, V6
Torque: 258 Lb Feet
0-60 MPH: 7.4 Seconds
1/4 Mile: 15.6 Seconds @ 90 MPH
60-0 MPH: 125 Feet
EPA Mileage: 15 MPG City 21 MPG Highway