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Audi A4 2.0 TDI 177 Allroad Estate vs. BMW 3-Series Touring 320d xDrive Sport

Audi A4 2.0 TDI 177 Allroad Estate

Audi A4 2.0 TDI 177 Allroad Estate

Price:  £32,235

If you've ever spotted an Audi A4 Allroad Estate on your travels, chances are you were curious to know why anybody would buy one of these over a sportier looking Quattro Avant model. The reason people buy Allroad's is because they're conventional family cars modified for light off-road use, with a raised ground clearance and increased suspension travel. This makes the Allroad a more sensible option for families than high-rise SUVs, with lots of space and ruggedness combined with excellent cruise ability.

The A4 Allroad Estate slots in-between the A4 Avant Quattro and Audi Q5. It's yet another choice for motorists in the crowded four-wheel-drive market.

There are three engines to choose from with the Audi A4 Allroad Estate: Audi’s 2.0-litre four-cylinder TFSI engine with 208bhp and 258lb ft of torque, a 2.0 TDI with 177 bhp and 280 lb /ft, and a 242bhp, 369 lb /ft 3.0-litre V6 TDI. The model we are looking at today is the cheapest you can buy, at £32,235.

The six-speed manual 177 Allroad will get from 0 - 62 mph in 8.2 seconds with solid potential economy figures of 46.3 miles per gallon with a CO2 rating of 159 g/km.

Thanks to the raised ground clearance (37mm over an A4 Quattro Avant) you get a better view of the road than in an A4 Avant or BMW 3-Series Touring. Surprisingly, during normal on-road driving, it's very hard to distinguish the Allroad from the Quattro Avant and thanks to that increased ride height, there's more suspension travel which results in greater comfort at any speed than other models of A4 - even SE saloon models.

There's no air suspension like on A6 Allroad's, but we don't think the A4 needs it to be honest.

When you leave the road, the Quattro permanent all-wheel-drive system really comes into its own. It gifts the A4 with stellar grip on slippery surfaces and inspires confidence on muddy tracks and steep hills with a loose surface. The increased ride height also means that you can tackle those country lanes which have deep potholes and humps without worrying about scuffing your bumpers. If you do, the black plastic which surrounds the Allroad's wheel arches and bumpers are cheap and easy to replace.

Inside, it's business as usual. The A4 Allroad has a well laid out cabin with high quality materials in abundance. Standard equipment on Allroad models includes climate control, cruise control, Bluetooth, CD player with DAB, side airbags and passenger airbags, 18-inch alloy wheels, load-area fixing kit, power-operated tailgate, high roof rails, and headlight washers.

So is the Allroad worth it over a Quattro Avant? If you find yourself driving off-road a fair amount of the time or in areas with rough and uneven roads, the Allroad offers greater off-road ability and comfort than a Quattro Avant can muster. 

BMW 3-Series Touring 320d xDrive Sport

BMW 3-Series Touring 320d xDrive Sport

Price:  £32,705

While the A4 Allroad Estate is an A4 Avant designed for light off road use, the BMW 3-Series Touring 320d xDrive Sport isn't - in fact, a closer competitor is the normal Quattro Avant. But with the price of an xDrive Touring in desirable Sport trim coming in a little more expensive than the Allroad, we thought it best to compare these two machines to see whether or not the BMW can match the A4's abilities.

The 320d is powered by a 2.0-litre turbo diesel common rail engine with 181 horsepower and 280 lb /ft of torque, but the car weighs less than the Allroad, so can complete the 0 - 62 mph sprint in 7.8 seconds, which is 0.4 seconds quicker than the Audi A4 Allroad Estate. The engine is also quieter than the unit in the A4 Allroad, and feels more responsive than those performance figures would suggest.

The 3-Series also has a more modern and engaging cabin than the A4. Neither cars are going to set the world alight with excitement, but the vast amount of aluminum and textured plastics in the 3-Series help it to stand out more than the A4 and the leathers used are also thicker, as are the soft touch materials used on the dashboard, the upper door cards, and the glove box area. So, if you're looking to have the utmost luxury in your all-wheel-drive estate, the 320d xDrive Touring is the best choice.

There's no denying that the xDrive is not on the Allroad's level when it comes to off-road ability, though.

On Sport models and even SE models, the BMW 3-Series Touring sits over 10mm lower than the Allroad which doesn't inspire confidence on pothole ridden roads and country lanes. The lack of wheel arch protection is also a concern. Like Quattro on the A4 Avant, xDrive on the 3-Series Touring is a permanent all-wheel-drive system, and in tests online it has been proven to be just as effective as a Quattro-equipped cars off-road with the same sets of tyres. So while both cars will offer the same off-road ability on, say, a muddy field, the Allroad will perform better in harsher conditions due to a higher ride height.

Overall

The result of this test has backed up my thoughts at the start of it: The Audi A4 2.0 TDI 177 Allroad Estate is a more appealing and rugged off-roader than the BMW 3-Series Touring 320d xDrive Sport, and so this is the car you want to buy if you live in a rural area and have a need for a car that'll put up with pothole and rough surface abuse. The BMW 3-Series Touring 320d xDrive Sport, meanwhile, is the sharper car to drive and the more luxurious to travel in. It is therefore the car you want to buy if you want an able cruiser with the safety net of all-wheel-drive. 

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