#araroad: A Thousand Miles In

In the two months since the I got my new Exclusive Ara Blue Audi A4 allroad, aka #araroad, the allroad has been lavishly treated with by Paul at Attention 2 Detail NW. The allroad was given new car paint preparation to remove some of the minor scratches and orange peeling on the paint that the allroad had when it arrived. It also got a coating of Gyeon Quartz and Suntek film applied to the entire hood/bonnet, along the door edges, the door handle grab area and the liftgate area.

My allroad getting ready for paint correction and protection. Photo by Paul Demico

I haven’t had a whole lot of time to see what options and settings I can tweak by using the VCDS software and the new HEX-NET interface that I purchased while the allroad was on order. One of these nights or weekends, I’ll have to grab my Surface Pro and hook it up to my allroad and take care of some of the basics. That said, it is nice that the option to use the keyfob to open and close to windows and sunroof is available without using VCDS. I’m hoping that there is a way to switch the Virtual Cockpit to the mode available on the S and R8 models with the digital tachometer in the middle of the display.

This past week, while on running some errands during my lunch break, the odometer reading on my Exclusive Ara Blue Audi A4 allroad’s Virtual Cockpit ticked over to 1,000 miles. The first milestone happened just two days shy of hitting the two month ownership mark; which means, I have averaged just under 500 miles per month so far. The mileage reflects the lack of having a daily commute, bi-weekly trips to the other side of Portland to attend live tapings of a local, public radio variety show, running weekend errands, and a trip over to the coast and back.

A Thousand Miles

Over those thousand miles, the allroad averaged 22.7 MPG with an average speed of 20 MPH. I cannot remember what the average speed that I clocked on the S5; but, I do know that the S5 long-term average fuel economy was 16.6 MPG over a span of well over 10,000 miles (I had recent the long-term memory a couple of times for some reason).

With a combination of dealing with stop-and-go traffic, highway travel and wafting through the curvy roads lining the West Hills, I’ve had the Drive Select mode between Comfort, Dynamic and Individual and haven’t really settled on specific set for Individual mode. As of writing, my Individual settings are: Auto for Engine/Transmission, Dynamic for Suspension Control and Adaptive Cruise Control, and Comfort for Steering.

Individual Drive Select Settings, For Now

Even in Dynamic mode, I have kept the gear selector in normal “D” mode and used the paddles to drop down gears for overtaking or to override the gearbox’s penchant to quickly climb up through the gears. For stop-and-go traffic and dealing with the rough and pothole-ridden roads in and around downtown Portland, I’ve found that I prefer it in Comfort mode and set the gear selector in “S” mode. For less cruddy roads, I find the suspension in Comfort mode to be a little too floaty at times for my comfort… if you will.

With the gear selector in “S” mode, the allroad gets off the line with a good amount of huff and isn’t too bothered when overtaking other cars on the highway. I’ve always been pretty ham-fisted and ham-footed, or plain bad, with the clutch and shifting gears in the S5 and never really got a good, consistent launch with it. Due to that, it feels like I can “launch” the allroad and get the allroad going faster than I could with the S5. That said, there is still some turbo lag present and sometimes rears its head when I didn’t really want it to. There’s also no comparison between the muted engine and exhaust sound of the turbo inline-four in the allroad versus the grunty 4.2-litre V8 in the S5. I am interested in seeing what AWE Turning or APR will do with exhaust options for the allroad.

I have made liberal use of the Adaptive Cruise Control and have kept Active Lane Assist on for almost every mile that I have had the allroad. The former, with stop-and-go assist, has really helped with the stop-and-go side of things; but, there are times where it doesn’t always go when the traffic moves again and the preselected follow distance is surpassed. I prefer to have the Adaptive Cruise Control Drive Select set to Dynamic, as Auto or Comfort makes it feel a little too lazy on the acceleration.

A4 allroad gear selector and center console

Although automated manual transmissions, including the R Tronic in the first version of the R8 and the S Tronic used in the allroad, work really well at speed, they¬†can be a little clunky in stop-and-go traffic; with some more clunkier than others. That said, the S Tronic in the allroad hasn’t been very too clunky when going into first from a stop; but, there are times where going from 2nd to 1st and 1st to a stop have been a bit clunky. Of course, compared to my manual transmission shifting and clutch coordination with the S5, it is miles better in the allroad.

I have quite a few other notes that I have about the other vehicle settings and features that come with Virtual Cockpit and the MMI system that I’ll touch on in the next article.

If you want a look at my Exclusive Ara Blue allroad, I will be up at Audi Expo covering the event as a photographer.