Paul Gover road tests and reviews the Audi A4 Allroad with specs, fuel consumption and verdict at its international launch in Germany.

Everything has changed, and then nothing much at all, as Audi completes the flip on its A4 Allroad Quattro.

The body is instantly familiar from the updated A4 Avant wagon, apart from the obvious body-protection plastics and some chunky roof rails. Drill deeper and there are some big mechanical changes.

The engine is turned 90 degrees so it’s north-south instead of sitting across the nose. The driveline is much more sophisticated with an infinitely variable setup that can make it fully front-wheel drive for improved efficiency instead of just locked in all-wheel drive.

The Allroad Quattro is still aimed at people who do not want an SUV and are prepared to pay well, probably starting from $75,000 for a petrol turbo, so it won’t be a big seller in Australia.

As before, the Allroad is a soft-roader in a similar style to the Subaru Outback but with much higher quality and more technology, not to mention a premium badge.

The Allroad is significantly improved as a high-rider wagon.

The estimated starting price also looks premium when you can get an Outback from $35,990. Even Audi’s own mid-sized Q5, starting from $63,210, has some significant advantages beyond the extra 45L in the boot.

But the Allroad is significantly improved as a high-rider wagon — up by 34mm over the regular avant — including a driveline that can now be front-wheel drive with all-paw grip on demand. Clutches at each end of the tailshaft can completely isolate the rear differential to cut drag and improve economy.

There are various drive and suspension modes on the European-spec cars tested. We will wait and see what arrives here and how it drives on bush tracks and beaches.

“It’s not permanent all-wheel drive like the old car. It can send up to 100 per cent of the drive to the front or rear,” says Audi Australia spokesman Shaun Cleary.

It’s about giving customers a choice, something different from the standard Avant, and also the engines.

The Allroad will come with 2.0-litre petrol and diesel turbos, at least at first, although Audi Australia is looking at a 3.0-litre V6 diesel. At the moment there is no diesel in the Avant, so that’s a point of difference for the Allroad.

The specification, from multimedia to safety, mirrors the package on the regular avant Quattro but buyers of the Allroad will pay about $5000 more for their car. It’s already claimed to have a five-star ANCAP rating, based on testing of the avant.

Audi has modest expectations for sales growth. Cleary says: “We would be looking for similar numbers to last year, which was 180, or a bit better. It’s about giving customers a choice, something different from the standard Avant, and also the engines.”

On the road

Audi makes some impressive claims for the A4 Allroad but a short evaluation loop out-and-back from Munich in Germany does not give much opportunity to test them. There is zero gravel road so I can’t report on the new driveline, although it seems smooth and quiet.

The extra ride height is easy to detect and plastic body protection panels allude to off-roading.