Audi A4 Allroad vs Subaru Outback

Audi A4 Allroad vs Subaru Outback
19 Sep, 2011 1:37pm

Crossover estates are a versatile breed, but which is best: Audi or Subaru?

Crossovers come in all shapes and sizes, but one thing they have in common is the ability to multi-task. Whether it’s family cars that look like SUVs, or off-roaders masquerading as estates, these models show no respect for class boundaries.

Subaru has mined a rich seam of multifunction models, starting with the Outback in the mid-Nineties. When it took the practical estate body and trademark four-wheel-drive system of the Legacy and added tough-looking lower-body protection and raised suspension, it hit upon a winning formula. And the arrival of a diesel in 2008 gave the Outback mainstream appeal.

The jacked-up Subaru is no longer the only option for family buyers who want an extra dose of ruggedness. If one brand knows how to exploit a niche, it’s Audi – and the A4 Allroad is aimed squarely at its Japanese competitor.

As with its rival, the German machine combines practical Avant bodywork and tried-and-tested four-wheel-drive technology with a punchy diesel engine. So does the quirky appeal and cast-iron reliability of the Subaru win this crossover head-to-head, or will the prestige of the A4 Allroad get our vote?


Rarely are two cars so evenly matched on paper, yet so different in the metal. Subaru has a proven pedigree in the hard-working estate sector, and the raw data suggests that Audi has given the Outback a close examination.

But while the financial considerations and pure figures suggest these two cars are evenly matched, the Allroad gets our vote by a margin. Its march to victory begins at first sight – the stylish bodywork sets the tone and, when you climb inside, cabin quality is in a different league to the dated Subaru.

Yes, the Outback provides more space and kit for the money, but it falls further behind on the road, where its notchy gearshift and lacklustre boxer diesel engine cost it dearly.

So, while the Audi’s prestige badge demands a premium price tag, we think the A4 Allroad quattro does enough to justify the extra outlay.

1. Audi A4 Allroad
A hugely desirable family 4x4. The A4 Allroad mixes decent fuel economy with a capable four-wheel-drive chassis and practical estate body. Its high-class cabin and attractive looks trump the Subaru for cosmetic appeal and ensure that motorists don’t have to sacrifice quality in the quest for go-anywhere ability.

2. Subaru Outback
In flagship trim, the Outback is simply too pricey to compete with the luxurious Audi, but lesser models provide far greater appeal. The mid-range SE costs a more palatable £28,070, while entry-level diesels start at £26,870. If space is a prime concern, the robust Subaru is for you. 

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"The jacked-up Subaru is no longer the only option for family buyers who want an extra dose of ruggedness."

What a pathetic thing to put in an article - how about the Skoda Octavia Scout? Forgotten it already? It's has been around for at least four years and has been highly praised in your own magazine on many an occasion.

It clearly qualifies as spot-on competition for these two overpriced but similar vehicles. Typical journalistic inaccuracy.

This is simply not a reasonable comparison. Once you match the Audi spec to the Subaru spec the price difference is significant in favour of the Subaru so of course the Audi wins in terms of perceived quality etc but you are paying significantly more for it.

Also the A4 is a class size down and simply cannot compete with the Subaru in terms of space, luggage etc. If you want a fair comapison, the Subaru Outback should be compared to a similiar sized Audi 4x4 i.e the Audi 6. Then you will see a huge price difference with the Subaru out classing it in all areas becuase it is so much cheaper.

Also some of your performance figures for the Subaru are incorrect. Don't forget the ocassional but often seriously suspect Audi reliability.

Also the article doesn't take into consideration who is buying and what their needs are? So what what's the point?

This seems like an unfair comparison with an Audi A4 when really the outback would be better compared with the A6 and then you would see what value for money the Subaru really is. Also where the A4 is a fashion item like a ladies handbag or jewlery the Subaru is a proper machine fit for all you can through at it.
Also as mentioned above German reliability is very hit and miss these days - I would disagree with this verdict and say the Outback is the better all rounder here.