FIRING up the quattro has a different perspective when Audi deploys its fabled all wheel drive system on its allroad estates.
Pumped up for greater ground clearance and with toughened looks all round, these versions of the Avant - as Audi calls its estate cars - bridge the gap between everyday motor and SUV.
The latest is the Audi A4 allroad which sits more than an inch higher than the A4 Avant on which it is based.
And being part of the new A4 line up it is not only lighter than before but comes with a range of fuel efficient yet potent engines.
The new A4 allroad is priced from Â£36,010 - a few grand more than its predecessor - and will be available with a choice of four engines, three diesel and a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol which features Audi's new ‘quattro on demand' system for added fuel economy.
The diesels stick to a more conventional quattro set up which splits power front to rear as required delivering splendid amounts of grip that makes the allroad very capable whatever the conditions.
We have just sampled a high powered 3.0-litre diesel which not only packs a mean punch - 0 to 60 takes less than 5.5 seconds - but is also nicely frugal.
Audi claims it's good for 52.3mpg on 18-inch alloys with emissions of 143g/km and we managed an average of 42 to the gallon on a good run out through the Cotswolds which included a spot of soft-roading over field-side tracks.
The A4 allroad is fitted with a hill descent system to hold it in check on slopes and has an off-road mode built into its drive system for extra traction on demanding surfaces.
Uprated suspension front and rear makes the allroad more robust than the regular Avant and it also has added body protection with extended wheel arches and sills and under-bumper panels.
From the front the allroad is set apart by additional air vents and a distinctive grille with pronounced vertical slats.
It looks the part with a decent blend of style and heavy duty credentials. Boot space ranges from 505 to 1,510 litres and it can tow up to 2.1 tonnes.
The 3.0-litre 272ps allroad quattro is an eight speed automatic and costs from Â£39,630 but add some ‘Audi essentials' such as the high tech virtual cockpit with its graphical instrument display, LED lighting and a Bang & Olufsen sound system and it's easy to rack up the pennies.
In fact, the extras fitted to this car took the price up to Â£56,763 making it a very premium offering in a market where alternatives include Volvo's Cross Country models and Volkswagen's Alltrack estates.
As with all versions of the new A4 the interior is a class act and includes features such as wireless phone charging, a full colour seven-inch display screen and smartphone connectivity.
The allroad also comes with a power operated tailgate and a motorised load cover for some added convenience.
On the road the allroad is very refined. Noise penetration is minimal and despite sitting an inch-and-a-half higher it handles in a very predictable and composed manner.
Its characteristics are no different to that of the Avant with a comfortable and rewarding drive but with the bonus of being capable of tackling tougher terrain.
The allroad is a very upmarket soft-roader - a fine estate to drive the estate if ever there was.