Introduced for the 2001 model year, the allroad quattro was Audis first foray into quasi-sport utility territory. Though it is essentially an A6 Avant made to look like an SUV, Audi claims the car performs like one, while delivering better on-road ride and handling qualities than regular sport utility models.
For 2002, the Tiptronic automatic transmission gains a Sport mode, and a version of GMs OnStar communication system is a new option. A new air-quality sensor includes automatic air circulation, and the steering wheel is now heated. In addition, an electronic air suspension provides more ground clearance than some truck-based SUVs. The 2001 model was equipped with automatic and manual settings, but this years four-level air suspension drops to a single streamlined mode with automatic leveling.
Equipped with twin turbochargers, the 250-horsepower, 2.7-liter V-6 engine mates with either a six-speed manual or the five-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission. As its name suggests, quattro permanently engaged all-wheel drive helps provide true offroad capability.
Subaru pioneered the notion of using SUV styling cues on its Legacy-based Outback. The Audi allroad quattro goes up against such upscale competitors as the Mercedes-Benz M-Class, car-based SUVs like the Lexus RX 300 and BMW X5, as well as AWD wagons such as the Volvo V70/XC.
Although the allroad quattro is related to Audis A6 series, no sedan equivalent is offered for this model. Audi is Volkswagens luxury division. During the first eight months of 2001, Audi sold 4,236 allroad quattros in the United States, vs. only 1,765 A6 Avants.
To create the allroad quattro, Audi began with an A6 Avant and added larger gray bumpers, wheel-arch trim and bodyside cladding. Mounted on a 108.5-inch wheelbase, the allroad quattro is 76.1 inches wide and 189.4 inches long overall, which is 2.7 inches shorter than the A6 Avant.
Audi went beyond paint and plastic components by installing unique 17-inch tires with tread thats said to be suited for offroad travel. In addition, an electronic air suspension adjusts ground clearance from a maximum of 8.2 inches (for offroad excursions) to a minimum of 5.6 inches (for swift highway cruising). At its greatest height, the allroad quattro has more clearance than some car-based SUVs, including the BMW X5, and is equal to that of the truck-based Land Rover Discovery Series II.
Five passengers fit in the allroad quattro with its standard seating: Cricket leather-upholstered sport front bucket seats and a three-place, 60/40-split, folding rear bench. A two-place, rear-facing third seat is optional. Designed for children, the third seat folds into the cargo floor when not in use, and it can be removed completely. Cargo volume measures 36.4 cubic feet with the rear seat up and 73.2 cubic feet when its folded down.
The interior features walnut trim and includes an eight-speaker 140-watt sound system that has both cassette and six-CD players. The Radio Broadcast Display System shows radio station call letters and other information, and stereo volume changes based on vehicle speed. Both front seats have 12-way power adjustment.
Options include a powered glass sunroof, Bose sound system, integrated digital portable cellular phone, satellite-based navigation system, GMs OnStar communication system, and heated front and rear seats. A Premium Package includes a heated steering wheel, low-beam xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights and a Parktronic acoustic parking-assistance system. A tire-pressure monitor is optional.
Under the Hood
A 2.7-liter V-6 engine uses twin turbochargers and generates 250 hp. It mates with either a six-speed-manual or five-speed-automatic transmission with a Tiptronic manual-selection provision and a Sport mode. Audis quattro permanently engaged all-wheel-drive system distributes power among the four wheels as needed to maintain the best traction.
Curtain-type airbags that protect front and rear passengers, and side-impact airbags for the front seats, are standard, while side airbags for the rear seats are optional. Antilock brakes and an Electronic Stabilization Program are standard.
Like all Audis, the allroad quattro is solidly built, civilized and refined. It is a serious vehicle that lacks nothing of consequence.
This beautiful road machine brandishes taut, extra-precise handling skills, as well as satisfying ride comfort and sterling performance. The allroad quattro stays firmly planted through demanding curves, and it hugs the pavement with a passion.
Going off the pavement is no problem; drivers simply touch a button to alter the vehicles ride height as needed. A bounty of gauges and switches are lushly orange-lit at night, which is quite a sight. Cargo space is abundant beneath an excellent cover.
One test wagon with the Tiptronic automatic transmission did suffer a driveability problem the gas pedal was so touchy it became annoying. The slightest touch on the pedal caused the allroad quattro to lurch ahead in an instant. Because other Audis with the 2.7-liter twin-turbo engine have not displayed any such tendency, this could have been an aberration.