There’s no doubt that the Audi allroad has been envisioned as an active lifestyle vehicle from day one of the concept’s inception back in the late 1990s. Today’s A4 allroad is a much more modern take on that original concept, but the gearing toward owners active with outdoor activities hasn’t changed a bit. Thusly, adding a roof rack to the allroad is a popular choice amongst owners.

When it comes to roof racks, allroaders have any number of options. Aftermarket companies such as Thule and Yakima offer modular roof bar-based systems with attachments for nearly anything you can think of and tailored to most any car. Car brands also offer these sorts of systems, and Audi Accessories (Audi Original Zubehör to those in Europe) is no exception, offering just such a system tailor made to each Audi model. In the end, we decided to go with Audi Accessories for a more allroad specific fitment and appearance.
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Base Carrier Cross BarsFirstly, Audi offers cross bars specifically designed for most models including the allroad. These bars are tailor fit for the width of our specific car – in this case the B8 Audi A4 Avant with raised roof rails. Similar Audi models like the RS 4 Avant and Q5 use roof rails that fit flush to the car’s roof, and Audi offers a separate fitment for these as well. As you can imagine, specific fitment means no cutting of cross bars or mistaken sizing. On the downside, those who wish to maximize a load on top of a car by placing bars wider than the roof itself would need to go with something aftermarket.

Another up side to cross bars from Audi Accessories is their compatibility with Thule. Specifically, these are directly compatible with Thule’s own ‘Rapid Aero’ system design, meaning Rapid Aero accessories should fit the Audi cross bars. As one of the largest aftermarket manufacturers of roof racks and an OE supplier to Audi, this means even more potential applications depending on your needs.

These bars are rated at 165 lbs. of load. That should cover nearly any gear needs for most car owners.

Parts:

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Cross Bar Storage BagWhat to do with your roof rack when not on the car can be a question. For the bars at least, Audi offers this ballistic-nylon storage bag. Specifically, it is designed to fit the cross bars with their risers, though we’ve found it is roomy enough to fit the bars with ski attachments also affixed. The bag is a bit of a luxury, but helpful in moving the set around as a unit, keeping them together while in storage and also protecting them from getting scratched as they might get banged around in your garage while off the car. We’d never had a storage bag for our roof bars before, and are very much appreciating the convenience now that we’ve picked one up.

Parts:

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Roof BoxWhether you have an active lifestyle or not, there’s no doubt most allroad owners can find use for a Roof Box. Affixing this aerodynamic box to the top of your car adds additional storage space for long trips. At the same time, it allows for a separate node of storage that helps keep mud, snow, sand and the like in the box and out of the interior of your Audi.

This particular roof box is a new design for Audi. The shape of the box is the usual aerodynamic teardrop you’d expect, but moulded with triangular leading tip that seems inspired by Audi’s wedge-nosed R18 Le Mans racer, and further sporting with a trailing top edge spoiler shape at the rear. That main body is a platinum grey finish, and new to this design is a high gloss black panel with fitted chrome Audi four-ring log. It is a handsome look that has gotten plenty of attention in person, at shows and in photos we’ve posted to Instagram and our other social media channels.

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Functionally, this is a very utilitarian design. Hinged for opening to either side, it includes tie-down straps, plus strap pulls to help close the lid without climbing up on the car or standing on a doorsill. It is also lockable at both sides and comes with two keys (note: not compatible with Thule lock cores). Finally, it uses grappling claw style attachments that seem as if they’d work with nearly any cross bars. Audi offers a T-Groove adapter that they recommend for cars with tilting panoramic sunroof. We neglected to order a set of the adapters and had no issues other than our inability to do more than tilt our sunroof with the box fitted. A set of the T-Groove adapters would obviously remedy that though we have not tried a set as of the time of this writing.
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Our particular box is Audi’s “small cargo carrier” that is 70x22x15 inches and rated for a maximum load of 110 lbs. There’s also a slightly larger “compact carrier” that is 76x26x15 with 132 lbs. capacity and finally a longer 83x34x15 “Ski and Luggage” carrier long enough to keep skis protected inside. Specs and prices for each of the boxes as well as the T-Groove adapter kit can be found below.

Parts:

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Ski & Snowboard

Other very popular activities for allroad owners are winter sports like skiing and snowboarding. In addition to the enclosed skiing roofbox option shown above, Audi offers more open ski/snowboard attachments with varying levels of width, as well as ease-of-access features. Near as we can tell, these are Thule designs and Thule lock cores are compatible at least in the unit we’ve fitted. This allowed us to use a large online Thule distributor to make sure we could key all of our attachments (except for the roof box) with the same key. More on that below.
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When it comes to ski attachments, Audi offers three. The first ‘Snowboard Ski Rack’ is a 23.62 inch wide unit that fits two sets of skis or two snowboards. There’s also a 31.5” ‘Ski/Snowboard’ Rack that also holds two sets of skis or two snowboards and finally a ‘Ski and Snowboard Holder with Pull-Out Action’ that is 32.48 inches wide and holds two sets of skis and two snowboards. We went with the latter, which makes loading and unloading more easy. Which you choose may depend on features you want or size to fit with multiple accessories. Each are listed below.

Parts:

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BicycleBikes are one of the hardest pieces of activity equipment to carry around due to their large size and often muddy state. Add in greasy chains or interior-ripping sharp gear rings and nobody really wants to put a bike inside their car. Luckily, Audi offers several options for carrying bicycles atop the car.

First and simplest is the option we chose, which is Audi’s ‘Aluminum Bike Rack’. This design does not require removal of the front wheel of the bicycle during carrying and holds the bike to a handsome aluminum tray design via a clamp that grips the upright tube while two buckled clasps affix each wheel securely to the tray.

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A second design is Audi’s ‘Fork Mount Bike Rack’. Like any fork mount design, this requires you to remove the front wheel and secure the bicycle’s exposed fork to the front mount. A second strap holds the rear wheel in place on a shortened tray design. Less convenient, this design is likely better for fuel efficiency as the bike doesn’t reaches so high into the air. Front wheels can be stowed in the trunk or fitted to the roof rack via the optional ‘Front Wheel Holder’ piece.

As with the ski racks, these attachments appear to be supplied by Thule and our experience has shown that Thule lock cores are compatible with them.

Parts:

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Other ActivitiesBiking and skiing aren’t the only activities Audi caters to with their rack system. Several other attachments can be found in the Audi catalogue or in their online store. These include attachments for Kayak and a handsome aerodynamic aluminum luggage basket.

Parts:

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The Thule ConnectionAs mentioned, Thule is one of the largest roof rack manufacturers in the industry. Also, they are an OE supplier for companies such as Audi, producing some of the attachments offered directly from Audi Accessories. Given this, parts like lock cores are compatible with most attachments (not roof boxes in our experience), while other Thule attachments using the firm’s Rapid Aero cross bar design appear to be compatible with Audi’s own T-Groove design roof bars.

As an example, we wanted lock cores that could be fitted to our attachments so that they would all be keyed alike. Large online retailers like Etrailer.com offer lock cores and master keys for Thule racks and can have you replacements or additional units to your door in as little time as you care to pay for rushed shipping. We matched the number visible on our lock cores from Audi, and ordered an extra key and several more cores to match. The process was very convenient.

When it comes to rack attachment types, Thule offers even more. In particular, the firm offers fitment for various kayak, surfboard, canoe, bicycle, roof box and basket designs that may also suit your needs. Most bike stores stock Thule, so there is the added convenience of picking these components up locally. However, if you choose to go this route, don’t forget that you’ll need Rapid Aero fitment versus their standard rectangular roof bar fitment in order to match up with Audi’s T-Groove roof bar design.

Also, make sure to follow Audi and Thule’s weight and fitment recommendations. Overloading a roof rack or incorrect fitment can cause all sorts of problems and possible damage to your car or injure others if incorrectly fitted to a car. Given the speeds at which people travel, care in proper fitment is paramount. Make sure to follow all instructions from the manufacturers.