leads to roam
Yan is besotted by the 2007
Audi Allroad, a wagon for the gentleman
photographed by Douglas
Expanded from issue
24 of Lucire
THE TROUBLE with buying an SUV—a
Chelsea tractor—in this day and age is sexuality. Yes,
you can say to the world, ‘Look how much room I need for my kids.
There’s no trouble with my equipment,’ but when the SUV
goes on the school run with Dad at the wheel, his homophobic friends
(and enemies) will ask, ‘Dude, how come your car is so clean?’
For the Jeep owner, this is anathema. A clean
Jeep is tantamount to admitting that you do not have the balls to
go off-roading and live the John Wayne Longest Day lifestyle
even for a few hours. Men will laugh.
Hence, SUVs are
bought and driven by women, for whom cleanliness does not carry
a stigma, and the chunky looks do remind them of a man’s pecs.
But we may have come across an SUV
(of sorts) which both sexes can keep clean. The Audi Allroad Quattro
(Audi says the model words should be spelt all in lowercase, but
our proofreaders won’t permit that).
This is what the Americans call a ‘crossover’,
a car that is neither off-roader nor station wagon, but somewhere
in between. In reality, it is a station wagon with four-wheel drive
and cladding. Black cladding, if you haven’t noticed, has made a
bigger comeback in the mid-2000s than the days of the Matra–Simca
Rancho, probably one of the first ‘crossovers’.
A lusty 350 PS
(257 kW) V8 up front means the male driver can stand proud next
to Mad Max, and get away from Interceptors when needed. We found
the unit powerful and smooth, propelling the rather heavy Allroad
forward, even if that meant getting an mpg rating in the teens,
or 15·8 l/100 km in newfangled metric. We liked the toys: a radar
for reversing, including a diagram on Audi’s intuitive MMI
computer system, showing what you were likely to hit. The multi-CD
changer makes a lot of sense. The handling is very good, though
we were able to make the traction control panic through some quick
corners, since we are talking 4·93 m of length.
But the pièce de résistance
for the boys is that you can adjust the Allroad’s ride height to
one of any five positions (125 to 185 mm). In town, one should keep
it low—we tailed a low-riding pick-up truck that thought it was
alone in having this feature—while we happily raised it while testing
the car at the Belmont National Park.
The high ride height is more than a statement
of intent. The Allroad’s Quattro system is capable and the higher
ground clearance helps, but it seems happier as a town car—or more
a town hot rod.
It’s a strange epithet to give to the Allroad,
but at its lowest ride height, it looks sportier than the regular
Audi A6 Avant on which it is based. The neighbours become jealous.
This will never be a hoon’s car—its bulk sees to that—but it is
a vehicle that is everything to everyone.
But why is cleanliness permissible? Largely,
we think, because the Allroad takes the mantle of the doctor’s shooting
brake. You know—once upon a time, the
English city doctor would have a Volvo 245 GL.
The Allroad is the modern equivalent (Volvo has some conflict with
that statement), a car that the gentleman, not the hoon,
can keep clean in his pleasant cul-de-sac. Inside, with the leather
seats and wood accents, it had better be clean. As with all Audi
interiors, quality is second to none.
The difference from the Volvo days is that in
2007, we are supposedly motivated by the idea of lifestyle,
or as this magazine headlines, ‘Life/Style’. One needs a car that
suits life and does it with style. We have this notion, especially
in Aotearoa, of needing the option to go out to Makara with horsebox
in tow or Mt Ruapehu with skis on top. This is why the roads are
filled with Subaru Legacy Wagons here, but we maintain that the
Subaru Legacy does not impress the neighbours, unless you are a
vet working in the country.
And impress you shall. Audi’s original Allroad
was a half-hearted attempt at doing an SUV
at a time when the Ingolstadters didn’t have an SUV.
It priced it semi-cheaply (by Audi standards) to entice those going
for more agricultural truck-based SUVs
that were all the rage among rich Manhattanites half a decade ago.
But now that Audi has a proper SUV—the
Q7—the Allroad has become a lot more of a statement
car. It’s even pricier than the Q7, on either side of the Tasman.
It’s become a niche vehicle, but we argue it shouldn’t be.
There is one final, very compelling reason that
the Allroad Quattro is au courant, the car for the late 2000s—at
least as far as V8s go.
Back in late 2000, Lucire voted the Audi
A4 Avant its Car to Be Seen in, forecasting an SUV
backlash. The reasons included its smaller size, range of powerplants
Now that the SUV
backlash is arguably here—Al Gore-loving Californians are buying
Japanese hybrids these days—those who seek the sound of a bent eight
might want to hide their passion in a more subtle package.
Not that the Allroad Quattro is that subtle—the
chrome-laden single-frame grille contrasts strongly with the blacked-out
cladding—but it gives those lovers of big cars and a flexible mode
de vie that will not be the first to attract the wrath of the
greenie. You can still say, ‘Well, at least it isn’t a Dodge Durango,’
as you go along to Ruapehu. •
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