By Bill Schaffer
Denver, Colo. ? When you start driving at the ?mile-high city? and drive east en route to Beaver Creek, Colo., the roads go over some big mountains.? In fact some of the mountain passes could be called ?two-mile high mountains? and have hundreds of feet left over.? I couldn?t feel the effect of the elevation, until my driving partner and I stopped to change drivers near the 10,000-foot level, and I got winded just walking around the car.
Fortunately, we were driving the new Audi allroad, with a turbocharged engine.? At some points along the route we had non-turbocharged cars passing us, but as we started up steep grades, those cars slowed and dropped back, while the Audi turbocharged four-cylinder engine didn?t seem to notice the difference.
Audi had invited the automotive press to Denver, to show off the new allroad, and to give us a chance to drive the cars they call the ?B-Segment?.? The segment is a middle grouping of some of the most impressive and award winning cars in the Audi stable and I consider them ?just right? size-wise.? The allroad?s distinguished family includes some very impressive Audi siblings: ?A4, S4, A5, S5, A5 cabriolet and S5 cabriolet.
In addition to the distinguished family tree, the allroad has strong roots going back to the original U.S. version that sold here from 1999 to 2005.? Like that original allroad, the new one has the versatility of a wagon, the prowess of a sport sedan and mild off-road capabilities.
Now Audi has reissued the pumped up allroad as a replacement for the A4 Avant.? To enhance the muscular look, the body gets contrasting color ding-resistant cladding around the lower side skirts and the wheel flares. ?There are also stainless steel skid plates on the front and rear fascia as well as on the side sills, but I think they are more for looks than for scrapes.? Finally, the suspension is raised 1.5-inches ?and it gets rugged looking 18-inch wheels both, which give the allroad better clearance in addition to actually making ingress and egress easier.
Audi introduced the LED Daytime Running Lights (DRL) on the S6 and S8 models in 2006 and since then each new model has been outfitted with the distinctive safety lights, with each vehicle getting a different pattern. The allroad is distinguished by a long LED rope DRL that encircles the light pod except over the Xenon beam. The grille is different too, with vertical chrome bars as compared to the egg crate style of the sedan.
The allroad comes in three trim levels, Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige, with prices at $40,495, $43,795 and $49,695 respectively including the $895 destination charge. ?The five-passenger interior feels especially spacious with the standard Panorama sunroof.? The cabin is pure luxury with standard soft leather seats, wood and aluminum accents, premium audio system and all the power equipment expected in a luxury vehicle. ??I especially like the new Chestnut Brown leather seats — they?re a nice alternative to black.
The Premium Plus adds Xenon headlights with the LED daytime running lights, a power tailgate, heated seats and a few other features.? The Prestige keeps adding features including MMI Navigation with Google Earth? maps, Bang and Olufsen sound system, Audi advanced key with push button start, side assist (a blind spot warning system) and adaptive Xenon headlights.? Options and option packages include a three-spoke special steering wheel, 12-way seats, Audi connect? (Internet features include making it a WiFi? hotspot), satellite radio and adaptive cruise control.
Unlike the original allroad, which had V-6 or V-8 engines, the 2013 model comes with only one small engine and it?s one of my favorites — a 2.0-liter turbocharged direct injection four-cylinder.? It?s rated at 211hp and 258-lb.ft. of torque, but every time I?ve driven a car with this engine, I swear it?s much more powerful than advertised.? The engine has won dozens of awards, too.? In addition to producing notable performance, including a 6.5 second 0 to 60 mph time and top speed limited to 130 mph, the engine is very efficient, logging EPA numbers of 20 mpg city and 27 mpg highway.
The engine is mated with a new eight-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic manual shifting and quattro? permanent all-wheel drive.
On the road, the 2.0-liter turbocharged Audi engine feels much more like a powerful V-6 than a four-cylinder, and the new eight-speed transmission made quick smooth shifts throughout the range of gears.
The allroad is a nice addition to the Audi lineup, allowing more versatility and even better all-weather capabilities with the higher clearance.? The car is very comfortable and quiet, too.
2013 Audi A4, S4, S5 and S5 Cabriolet
I had an opportunity to spend some time in the Audi A4, S4, S5 and S5 Cabriolet while in the Beaver Creek area and on the way back to the Denver airport.? The S models, which were previously powered by 4.2-liter V-8 engines, ?now have a 3.0-liter supercharged direct-injection V-6 engines.? Rated at 333-hp and 325-lb.ft. of torque these engines produce exciting acceleration and excellent fuel economy.? The S4, for example, accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.9 seconds (the Cabriolet takes 5.3 seconds because of the extra weight), and still maintains an EPA rating of 18 mpg city and 28 mpg highway with the S tronic seven-speed automatic.
I loved all the cars I drove, but was surprised after the two days of driving which two were my favorites.? While the S models were exciting, powerful and better road cars, my favorites turned out to be the A4 sedan and the allroad probably because of their outstanding value .? Although from a styling standpoint, the coupe and convertible are have to be among the best looking cars on the market.
The bottom line is, I still haven?t met an Audi I didn?t like.? I?m hoping I?ll get to drive all these cars again at home to see how they perform in the daily Schaffer routine, or perhaps on one of our road trips to the coast where the elevations seldom go beyond three digits.