The Audi A6, first released in 1999, was pretty much the first example of the estate crossover. With its jacked up suspension, quattro four-wheel drive and chunky body cladding it proved an instant hit with the city-set looking for a 4X4 without the country farmer connotations.
The Audi A6 is now in its third generation and follows the same principles. The price might be in the upper echelons of the segment, but the allroad is now more capable, more refined and better to drive. Getting behind the wheel of the £43,465 3.0TDI A6 allroad, we found out just how capable it is.
The Audi A6 allroad looks a little different to most Audis, which have, in the past, been criticised for looking a little samey. Resist the option of body-coloured bumpers and the contrast from the chunky plastic arch cladding ensures you're left in no doubt as to this car’s quasi-offroad intentions. To complement the arches there’s some extended side sills, a bolder front grille and some pseudo under-body protection at the front and rear - and the allroad rides 60mm higher. Otherwise its standard A6 Avant fare with expensive looking detailing and taut surfaces.
The Audi A6 allroad is a big car, and no matter where you are in the cabin the sensation of space is prevalent – especially thanks to the light beaufort Oakwood inlays adorning our test car. Folding the 60/40 split rear seats is a cinch, the remote handles in the boot doing all the hard work for you. Leave the seats in place and there’s 565-litres to work with, while the integrated dog/load guard stops any objects (feline or otherwise) from making their way into the cabin – no matter how rough the road gets underneath you.
Performance & handling
The Audi A6 allroad is only available with a 3-litre diesel engine, although there are three different engine outputs -- 201bhp, 242bhp or 309bhp in the case of the top-spec bi-turbo version. In reality there’s little need to look past the 201bhp model, which accelerates from 0-60mph in only 7.5 seconds. A 7-speed S Tronic automatic gearbox makes for easy, linear progress, and there’s no doubt the allroad is an ideal motorway mile muncher.
The A6 allroad Is none too shabby in the corners either; sure there’s slightly more body roll than in a regular A6 Avant, but you’d really have to drive the pair back to back to notice. There’s some vagueness to the steering as well, especially just around the dead ahead, but in general the A6 allroad is confidence inspiring to the extreme, no matter what the conditions are surrounding you – such is the level of grip from the quattro four-wheel drive system.
Economy & environment
The Audi A6 allroad isn't the last word in economy and efficiency – that gap is filled by a front-wheel drive A6 Avant with a 2.0-litre diesel engine and six-speed manual gearbox. It has start/stop fitted as standard and the combined economy of 46.3mpg is certainly competitive, while the 159g/km CO2 emissions mean the Audi A6 allroad costs £170 per year in annual road tax. A Volvo XC70 D5 with comparable power can only manage 41.5mpg and 179g/km of CO2 emissions.
Equipment & value
The Audi A6 allroad commands a fair premium over a standard A6 Avant quattro; the difference between the 242bhp models is £3,385. For that you get the raised ride height with adaptive air suspension, underbody protection for the engine and an ESP system with off-road detection to optimise its responses for the conditions. Is it worth it? Well that’s down to your specific needs but for many the quattro A6 Avant will be more than adequate. Regardless, the allroad is well-equipped with leather seats, cruise control, climate control, 18-inch alloy wheels, sat-nav, Bluetooth and keyless go all as standard.
The A6 allroad hasn’t specifically been tested by Euro NCAP but the A6 achieved a full five stars back in 2011. On top of the usual safety kit, the allroad has a sports differential to apportion power across both its axles and a system that momentarily applies the brakes to dry the discs after travelling through water.
Unless you regularly have to deal with adverse conditions, be they rough roads or inclement weather, then there’s little justification for choosing the A6 allroad rather than a regular A6 Avant. However, if you're even considering spending north of £40,000 on an estate car it's unlikely to be a purchase mulled by those on too tight a budget. Those lucky enough to be looking at things from that point of view will find the allroad has plenty of appeal. Compared to its rivals it’s generally sharper to drive and more refined, while for many the Volvo or Subaru badges found on its most direct rivals can’t match the Audi’s for prestige.
Model tested: Audi A6 allroad 3.0TDI
Engine: 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder diesel
Acceleration: 0-62 in 7.5 seconds
Top speed: 139mph
Emissions: 159g/km CO2