When Audi launched the B8-based A4 allroad, it made a fundamental change to the allroad game plan. Likely for cost and/or cost of ownership reasons, the smallest of the now expanded allroad family ditched the adjustable air suspension for a fixed-height steel sprung configuration. And, since it was more sport utility wagon than wagon, this meant the sole ride height was more crossover than sport Avant. Not surprisingly, most allroad owners with sporting intentions wish to lower their cars.

Of course there are the usual options in the aftermarket. Conventional springs and perhaps shocks, coilovers or even airbags are your three main choices in order of likely cost and complexity. Each has their strengths and weaknesses.
Project B85 allroad: H&R Sport Springs

Our B85 allroad series has always been an OEM+ inspired endeavor. While we want to improve upon the car’s performance and aesthetic, we’re going to strive to use factory or factory-mimicking parts wherever possible. Suspension is one of those few exceptions for a few reasons. First, the allroad suspension is a bit unique and factory replacement parts can be prohibitively costly with little gain. Second, we’d ultimately like to find some sort of dash-adjustable ride-height functionality while maintaining a general ride height roughly the same as an RS 4 or just slightly lower. With these goals, we considered our options.

Air bags are one very popular choice. Players like AirLift and AccuAir seem to be the most popular in this space, and each offer kits designed for the B8 specifically. Each offer dash-adjustable ride height. On paper that all sounds perfect, but unlike many who’ve built some very impressive A4 allroad show cars, we weren’t interested in parking the car on its belly pan at meets. The complex installation and aftermarket control units also didn’t fit our requirements as they seemed frankly more than we are seeking, which in the end is functionality like the original C5-based allroad with a factory button that’ll take you up or down… but not really, really down.
Project B85 allroad: H&R Sport Springs

We chatted up a few people in the industry about a more simplified air suspension for applications like an allroad without stance intentions. We mentioned it to people at various air suspension companies, distributors, suppliers and also others with plenty of air suspension ownership experience. What we learned is that the industry really isn’t there yet and may not go that way in the end because there’s plenty of business to be had in the segment of people who want very extreme height adjustability. Our more conservative OEM+ yearnings seem to be of less interest for now. Maybe we’re just weird.

Next up is the proposition of coilovers. Adjustable, though manually in most cases, this is a great option for track rats or those looking for an aggressive ride height and/or handling tendency. Bilstein offers some dash adjustability for valving, and others like H&R, KW and more have their own strengths. Interestingly, none of these companies make an allroad specific kit, which is something we were warned when we reached out to several of them. Some owners use A4 kits, and we’d be interested to hear their thoughts on any issues with alignment or camber given the differences in suspension geometry between allroad and the standard A4 Avant. For now, we’ve decided to skip coilovers, though we may turn to them for a second phase to our suspension plans.
Project B85 allroad: H&R Sport Springs

Our last option was springs. H&R does offer a “sport spring” (part# 28969-1, sug. retail $439) that, especially when used with factory shocks, is clearly the most cost effective option. It also seems to be the closest to OE RS 4 ride height, advertised as dropping the car 1.4 inches at both tehf ront and the rear. Also, by keeping the stock shocks the ride is quite compliant. For these reasons, we’ve decided to start with this setup. This will get us the lower ride height and will help maintain a more factory-smooth ride.
Project B85 allroad: H&R Sport Springs

So what do we think? As expected, installation is relatively simple because we’re only replacing springs. Even still, you’ll need shop assets like a lift and an alignment machine. Because we have neither, we turned to our own local tuning shop AP Tuning (a.k.a. APT). Located in nearby Lebanon, PA, APT has been a great resource for us, knowing their way around modifications and upgrades, a distributor for lines like APR, and also with a giant stock of used parts. While at APT, we had several upgrades completed on the car, but for now we’ll stick to the springs.

Once in the car, you can see the ride height drop is a conservative one. Internally, our staff is split on the ride height. Some, with more aggressive coilover systems on their personal cars, think the ride height should be lower. Arguably, that’s not the point because there are solutions for such lower heights. No, the ride height on our allroad appears now to be more the height of a stock RS 4… perfect then for someone who wants to add more of a sporting nature to their allroad, but doesn’t want to look like a hooligan in front of the police or the other parents at the school drop off. Those who don’t get it won’t understand. Those who do will appreciate the hell out of the H&R sport springs for their subtlety.

They’ll also appreciate the ride. By retaining the stock shocks and struts, we’ve also retained a compliant ride. The car doesn't bounce, nor is it harsh. Yes, by running the stock hardware in a lower position, we may very well be lessening its useful life. However, the ride feels nearly like a factory sport suspension you’d expect on an S4 or RS-car and we’re appreciative of the factory refinement that is retained.
Project B85 allroad: H&R Sport Springs

Are there downsides? Well, our new configuration still is not height adjustable from inside the cabin. We’ve found one solution we’re curious about trying, but we didn’t want to do it before we’d had a chance to try these springs on their own and get a gauge on the height and ride.

Some may prefer a lower spring height, but we rather like the OE RS 4 height the H&R sport springs have given us. Our car isn’t a show queen and we think this ride height rather suits the OEM+ style of the car. That said, with adjustability it may not hurt to go slightly lower, but we’ll have to re-examine that as we work on the adjustability portion of the suspension configuration. For now, we couldn’t be happier and find the springs the perfect solution for someone looking for a subtler look, lower impact and lower cost of entry.
Project B85 allroad: H&R Sport Springs

Parts Installed
  • H&R Sport Springs (set of 4), Part Number: 28969-1, MSRP: $439.00


Next upYou’ll note our now-lower Project B85 allroad is still wearing its snow tires in the photographs of this story. That’s since been rectified, so watch for our car getting a new set of shoes for the summer in the form of 20-inch wheels and Michelin tires.