Ask anyone who’s not an Audi enthusiast to explain it and they likely can't. To the uninitiated, today's Audi allroad (A4 allroad to Europe) is the unexpected enthusiast’s car. Consider the formula of a station wagon raised up from the ground and adorned with cladding to emulate an SUV then powered by a four cylinder engine (albeit turbocharged). No doubt non Audians would have to scratch their heads. Those familiar with the brand though… they know better. That’s where this car comes in.

In a lot of ways, the first allroad concept was a bit of a gesture, a thumbing of the nose. Then Audi chief Franz Josef Paefgen built the four-wheeled equivalent of Steve McQueen lifting those two fingers up in the air when told that SUVs would take over the world. Instead of an SUV, Paefgen’s formula was a beefed up wagon, with air suspension that paired extremely well with quattro, twin turbocharged high-performance engine, available manual transmission and stylish sporting interior. It may have been the bastard child of an Audi ur quattro rally car and a Range Rover. In some ways, it was obscene… a high ticket and high performance take on the direction begun by the Subaru Outback... or maybe the AMC Eagle.
Project B8.5 allroad: Introduction


Today, of course, it’s different. SUVs have morphed into crossovers and are taking over the planet. Manual transmissions are rapidly disappearing. The allroad remains, but it has changed. It’s moved from A6 to A4, at least for the U.S. market, and its biturbo V6 has been replaced with a more efficient 2.0 TFSI. Its costly and costly to maintain air suspension gave way to simply tall shocks and steel springs.

When you put it all that way, the car may sound sort of boring… and yet it’s not. Today’s A4 allroad is as fast as that first A6-based allroad. It’s based on a much more sorted and feature-laden platform. It’s the last Avant in the North American market and with those flares it boasts what is effectively a widebody. Enthusiasts have taken notice and so has the aftermarket.

Project B8.5 allroad: Introduction


Welcome to project B8.5 allroad.

Why "B8.5"? B8 is the chassis designation for the current-generation A4/A5/Q5 family. B8.5 is a term used by enthusiasts to denote the B8 facelift that happened mid lifecycle and ahead of the 2013 model year. Effectively, all U.S. spec A4 allroads are B8.5 cars.

Of course, attempting to build a tuned B8.5 allroad isn’t exactly a new idea by any stretch. However, with the B8 entering its last year, we figured this was a good time to embrace the platform and review the wealth of knowledge and upgrades available for it. Even more ambitious, there may yet be some new things to do with these cars that maybe hasn’t been done before.
Project B8.5 allroad: Introduction


To that end, we needed a car. Rather than buying a new one, we decided to save some money by looking at the many Certified Pre-Owned allroads out there. We figured out our preferred color combos and option packages and set about on our search, watching sites like AutoTrader, Cars.com or Craigslist.

Those specs eventually dictated our choice. Most importantly, we wanted a car with monochromatic paint. We like the look of the painted cladding as the cars are little more modern and Avant-like, and a little less SUV looking. In the USA at least, Audi only offered monochromatic paint in white, black or silver. Amongst that mix, we found silver to be the rarest and decided to focus on that.
Project B8.5 allroad: Introduction


We also took a look at the 2013 and 2014 order guides and decided we wanted as highly optioned a car as possible, and preferably with Sport interior. At the same time, we were limited in supply. Choosing the more common white or black cars would have offered more options, so we kept black as a backup and actually found several that suited our needs. Unfortunately, the better ones always seemed to be hundreds of miles away.

What we also learned during our search is that CPO allroads are becoming very affordable. Those same higher option cars selling new for over $50,000 in 2013 and 2014 are now dropping down into the $30,000-40,000 range. Some high mileage examples go even lower.
Project B8.5 allroad: Introduction


Eventually, we zeroed in on a car near our east coast offices and located in a suburb of Philadelphia. It was at a small luxury used car dealer named Sky Motorcars who specializes in moving cars dealerships take in on trade and don’t really know what to do with. Such was the case with this silver heavily optioned Premium Plus example that had been in service for about eight months and logged just 1,900 miles.

Why the low miles? Who knows. The CarFax on the car was clean and a buddy at an Audi dealership checked the car’s service history to see if we'd spot any issues. Unsurprisingly, there was no history with just under 2,000 miles logged.

On the up side, this is effectively a new car. We won’t have to repair or fix worn components. On the downside, we didn’t get every option we wanted, in particular the Sport interior option. That means no sport seats or three-spoke steering wheel. Then again, that could be a good reason to go for upgrades that we may not have had we started out with more sporting interior. We’re choosing to look at that aspect as having a glass half full.

Project B8.5 allroad: Introduction


Since the car came from an independent dealer, it unfortunately had no Certified Pre-Owned extended warranty from Audi. However, it is practically a new car and it was listed $11,000 less than its sticker price. Negotiations and no trade in took us even lower. Depreciation was our friend.

Score.

So where do we go from here? Well, we've already ordered up some stuff to install in and on the car, and we have some other ideas we want to chase down. In particular, suspension is something we want to investigate, whether or not to go air or stay static, and maybe a way to get adjustability like that original allroad. If you have any thoughts on the matter, drop us a line within the attached discussion forum below.

And so it begins.