Iain Dooley, senior PA motoring writer, checks out Audi’s A4 Allroad – a beefed-up Avant with extra ground clearance.

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Engines – As befits a niche model, the A4 Allroad comes with a modest range of engines – one petrol and two diesels. Predictably, it’s the latter that offers the most flexibility and economy. The 2.0-litre option will be more than enough in most situations but the 3.0-litre unit is the clear winner if more performance is needed.

Exterior – The A4 Allroad is, in reality, an A4 Avant in disguise. Boasting slightly higher ride height, the Allroad differs from the Avant with its tough-looking dark plastic ‘bash proof’ trim for the wheel arches.

Interior – Unlike the Allroad’s deviation from the Avant design on the outside, inside it’s pure A4. All of which means a premium ambience backed up by a solidly-built and expertly-trimmed interior.

Driving – You will notice the slight difference in ride height over a regular A4 Avant, but that’s about the only change in behaviour here. Regardless of engine choice, the A4 Allroad is easy to drive, although it was never designed to be a high-performance tool. Opt for diesel power and you’ve got the best of both worlds – economy and solid pulling power in one neat package.

Ownership – Like all Audis, the A4 Allroad is a solidly-built car. It’s also a reassuringly luxurious one, and should offer owners a suitably premium ownership experience. Being all-wheel drive it’s a great all-weather machine, while the slightly raised ride height makes traversing muddy fields easy if you’re an outdoors type. As a compact estate the Allroad offers more room than a saloon, which helps boost its versatility too.

What to look for – Far from being viewed as an urban runabout, Allroad variants often work hard to earn their keep. With that in mind, always check for body damage and evidence of excessive underbody wear and tear from any over- enthusiastic ‘off-roading’. Inside, check for trim and upholstery damage, as this could prove expensive to repair. And for a car this new, a full service history and flawless test-drive is a must.

Model history – 2009, Audi launches an Allroad version of its popular A4 Avant, mirroring the bigger A6 Allroad. Boasting quattro all-wheel drive, raised ride height plus stylish ‘bash-proof’ plastic wheel arch and sump protectors, it’s pitched at drivers seeking a more versatile, all-weather version of its compact premium A4 estate. All the usual Audi refinements apply, alongside a slimmed down range of three engines – one petrol and two diesel units.

Reasons to buy – All-wheel drive capability, Avant load-lugging capacity, beefed up exterior, Audi brand image.

Reasons to beware – Brand image, not a proper off-roader, petrol engine thirst.

Pick of the range – A4 Allroad 2.0 TDI quattro 170.

What to pay – 2009 09 £23,300; 2009 59 £24,100; 2010 10 £25,675; 2010 60 £26,525; 2011 61 £29,200. Showroom prices for cars in A1 condition.

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