The third generation of Audi's A6 allroad quattro has just gone on sale. It continues the formula of adding a little more off-road ability and individuality to the A6 Avant package and while it's undeniably competent and desirable, there's a price to pay for that. Here we drive the mid-range 3.0-litre TDI version.
In the Metal:
The allroad quattro has presence like few other Audi A6 Avants - even the top-spec S line models. That's partly down to the size of the thing, as it has grown in most dimensions over its predecessor. The single-frame grille dominates the front with its striking vertical slats. Under-body protection adds some ruggedness to proceedings and the A6's shape is muscled up by the addition of wheelarch extensions that neatly integrate into the new bumpers front and rear and the extended side sills. Unique alloys top it off.
Inside, it's pretty much as in the A6 Avant, which is to say it's beautifully made and the materials used are top notch. Buyers of the allroad quattro get a few custom colours and materials to choose from. We particularly liked the deep brown leather and the feel of the oak wood inlays (if not their appearance).
First impressions of the A6 allroad suggest it's little different to the Avant on the road. That means it wafts along serenely most of the time. Adaptive air suspension is standard and it's integrated neatly with the drive select system, offering comfort, efficiency, auto, dynamic and allroad modes. On our test route we alternated between comfort and dynamic.
In the latter setting the steering assistance is reduced, throttle response is sharpened up, the ride height is reduced and the damping firmed up, while the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission alters its shift points and introduces throttle blips on downshifts. This is the mode to switch into if you're in a hurry or on an interesting piece of road. It's no sports car, but the allroad is competent, though you can't escape the feeling that it's a little too big and heavy to be throwing around.
Hence in comfort mode it absorbs bumps better, smoothens out the throttle response and makes the experience more relaxing. The 3.0-litre TDI engine is a perfect partner in this respect, producing its considerable torque low down in the rev range. As attested to by the 6.6-second 0-100km/h time, this is a rapid car, so we suspect that the entry-level model (powered by a 204hp version of this same engine) will have adequate go for most buyers.
What you get for your Money:
There's a single SE specification and all versions use an automatic transmission and have quattro four-wheel drive. In addition to the standard specification of the SE level, the allroad quattro features 18-inch alloys, the adaptive air suspension, allroad styling bits and pieces (including under-body protection) and headlight washers.
Some people won't get beyond comparing the price of the allroad quattro with the equivalent A6 Avant, as there's a big jump. The cheapest allroad quattro, powered by the 204hp 3.0-litre TDI engine, is €64,080 on-the-road - or €8,640 more than the A6 Avant quattro with the same engine and gearbox. The allroad version is more expensive to tax too, being in Band D for emissions.
The car tested, with 245hp, is €67,430, while a formidable bi-turbocharged 3.0-litre TDI engine with 313hp comes in at €76,370. The only petrol option is a 3.0-litre TFSI V6 unit with 300hp, costing €73,590. Don't expect to see many of them in Ireland.
Many refer to cars like the allroad quattro as 'soft-roaders' and we doubt that this A6 will be taken very far off-road. Unsurprisingly, Audi didn't lay on an off-road course for us to test its mettle on. However, it should be better than a regular quattro-equipped Avant thanks to raised ground clearance and hill descent if nothing else. A tilt and angle display can be found within the MMI interface too. Perhaps more usefully, the towing capacity has been increased to a significant 2,500kg.
We make no secret of the fact that we love the concept of cars like the allroad quattro. Not everybody agrees that they're worth the considerable premium over the standard estates they're based on, but for those that do then the new Audi A6 is the best yet.