Tech sets apart 2017 Audi A4 from other sports sedans

The new Audi A4 Allroad will feature the firm’s latest four-wheel drive and self-driving technology when it goes on sale in the coming months.

Buyers will be able to select an option which enables the A4 Allroad to drive itself at up to 37mph, with the car taking control of accelerator, brake and steering controls.

The Audi A4 Allroad is, essentially, a jacked-up Audi A4 Avant Quattro with some rugged looking styling additions. It’s in the same mould as the old Audi Allroads, the Volvo XC70 and the old, but loveable, Subaru Forester.

It’s perfect if you want the space of an estate, some off-road ability but you can’t live with the shame and ignominy of having an SUV.

Its higher ground clearance and black plastic arches might not make it the most extreme off roader, but they do add a purposefulness to the A4’s looks. The Allroad is more understated than a normal A4 Avant, has a much friendlier appearance and somehow isn’t quite as ostentatious.

With the new A4, Audi isn’t tinkering much with its formula. The A4 has an aero-clean shape, a crisped-up take on its enduring shape. It’ll take a knowledgeable eye to spot the new car—it’s a bit bigger, the front end wears a few more creases, and the rear end sits a bit higher. It’s no reinvention, but the A4 has always leaned toward long-lasting style.

The cockpit is part throwback, part future-think. The horizontal dash and toggle-switch controls remind us of the spartan look of Audi’s great Eighties sedan, the 4000. That is, until you get to the big display screen fixed to the dash, to the rich combinations of wood and leather, and to the dazzling display embedded where the gauges normally live.

Audi calls it the “virtual cockpit.” It’s a dramatic tech flourish that replaces dials with digital output. It can switch from instruments, to infotainment, to wide-screen navigation with Google Earth maps.

The 2016 A4 Allroad will also be able to run as a front-wheel drive car in normal conditions. When sensors detect grip is lost, they can instantly activate the car’s four-wheel drive system.

While other cars already have similar features, the latest developments by Audi’s Quattro division mean the car is able to predict when grip may be lost by monitoring driver behaviour, road conditions and the car’s speed and steering.

These proactive and predictive all-wheel drive systems allow up to half a second for the car to prepare the four-wheel drive system, meaning it can activate almost the instant grip is lost. Additionally, the car monitors a wide variety of conditions every 10 milliseconds so it’s able to react quickly.

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About the Author: Akhtar Jamal

Tribune International