We drove the hidden gem in Audi's lineup -- and it's one of the best cars the brand has ever made

Audi Allroad WagonAudiAudi Allroad.

These days, the public’s appetite for small crossovers seems to be insatiable.

In the luxury space, Audi’s lineup has proved to be particularly popular with consumers.

So far this year, sales of the brand’s new Q5 and Q7 crossover SUVs have surged 21% and 12.3% respectively.

However, consumers and the press alike have seemingly glossed over Audi’s new Allroad wagon.

Even though sales of the Allroad are up 61% through May, the 1,100 units sold pales in comparison to the 21,000 Q5s or the roughly 14,000 Q7s Audi has managed to move this year in the US.

The fact that the Allroad has been overlooked is truly unfortunate. After just a few days with our metallic green Allroad test car, it became very clear that this is without a doubt the hidden gem in Audi’s lineup.

The 2017 Allroad wagon is based on Audi’s outstanding new fifth-generation A4 sedan — a car that very nearly won Business Insider’s car of the year award last December. At the time, our transportation team dubbed the new A4, the best car Audi has ever made. So it’s not surprising we immediately took to the Allroad.

Aesthetically, the Allroad wagon is handsome in a reserved manner.
Audi’s signature LED daytime running lights and hexagonal single-frame front grille are
like the A4 sedan. However, the single-frame grille’s slats are horizontal on the Allroad to help emphasise the wagon’s increased ride height — roughly 1.3 inches more than the sedan.

We applaud Audi for showing restraint and not making the same mistake other manufacturers have by overloading their off-road wagons with body cladding to “butch up” the look. Even though the Allroad does have more pronounced plastic wheel arches, the overall styling remains that of a tastefully Teutonic sports wagon.

Like the A4 sedan, the Allroad is built on Audi’s highly-praised MLB Evo platform that also underpins the Q7 and even Bentley’s hulking Bentayga SUV. The versatility of the chassis enables the Allroad to quickly adapt to multiple usage cases — especially valuable in an off-road wagon.

The only engine-transmission combo available in the crossover is VW Group’s stellar 2.0 litre, 252 horsepower turbocharged, four-cylinder engine and a quick-shifting seven-speed twin-clutch gearbox driving all four wheels. According to Audi, the Allroad can hit 60 mph in just 5.9 seconds and reach an electronically limited top speed of 130 mph.

Although powerful and efficient, the turbo four lacks the soulfulness of V6. Perhaps the A6 sedan or Porsche Macan S crossover could share their V6 powerplants.

Around town, the Allroad is pleasant and composed. And here lies the wagon’s greatest asset. The wagon is able to deliver on-road dynamics that are virtually identical to the A4 sedan with the off-road capability and utility of a comparable luxury crossover SUV.

Inside the cabin, the Allroad is essentially identical to the A4 models destined to live only on the tarmac. And that’s a good thing because the new A4’s interior is a high-tech masterpiece.

The centrepiece of the cabin is Audi’s award-winning virtual cockpit digital instrument display. The 12.3-inch high definition display is infinitely customisable with a full Google Maps-powered interface. The Allroad is also decked out with a full colour heads up display, onboard 4G LTE connectivity, and Audi’s latest MMI infotainment system. Not to mention an available 19-speaker, 755-watt Bang & Olufsen sound system along with full Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration.

In addition, the Allroad available with adaptive cruise control, collision sensing, and active lane assist. Aside from the tech, the overall in-cabin experience is plush, quiet, and immensely pleasant.

As a vehicle, the Audi Allroad is an unqualified success. Unfortunately, wagons are not currently in vogue. And that’s a true shame because hidden behind the all of the crossover SUVs on Audi’s dealership lots is one heck of great off-road wagon.

The 2017 Audi Allroad starts at $US44,000 while our loaded Prestige trim level test car cost a bit more than $US51,000.

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