"The Audi A6 Allroad estate offers excellent roadholding, quality and luxury in a practical and stylish body. It's also fast, frugal and user friendly with the benefit of being able to tackle the odd muddy road."
Take the latest-generation Audi A6 Avant and gear it up for going off-road and you get the Audi A6 Allroad quattro. That means a 15mm increase in ride height, extra wheel-arch cladding and some undercarriage armour. And it certainly looks chunkier than the standard A6 Avant, with its more rugged exterior. There's adjustable air suspension fitted as standard across the range, as well as specially tuned electronic stability control to help when things get slippery. There are three diesel engines to choose from, starting with the 201bhp 3.0-litre diesel, a 242bhp 3.0-litre diesel (expected to make up 86 per cent of sales according to Audi) and a 309bhp 3.0-litre model with two turbochargers. The first two engines are paired with an efficient and effective seven-speed S tronic gearbo, while the more powerful BiTDI twin-turbo V6 diesel is the only engine to use a newer eight-speed gearbox.
MPG, running costs & CO2 emissions
The lowest-powered 202bhp 3.0-litre TDI quattro is the most efficient engine on offer in the Allroad, returning 46.3mpg in fuel economy and emitting 159g/km of CO2. All models come fitted with stop-start and brake energy recuperation fitted as standard to boost economy. The biggest seller is the 242bhp version, which returns 44.8mpg and emits 165g/km of CO2, which is a little less impressive than the standard Audi A6 Avant estate. The 161bhp 2.4-litre diesel engine in the Volvo XC70 is more economical, but it is much slower and pumps out an unimpressive 179g/km of CO2. The top-of-the-range Audi A6 Allroad 3.0-litre BiTDI quattro returns 42.2mpg and emits 176g/km – but that's the price you pay for going from 0-62mph in 5.6 seconds. It's also worth noting that because the Allroad is a large Audi, parts and servicing will lean towards the expensive end of the scale.
Interior & comfort
Let's be honest, this is an Audi, so it's always going to be comfortable. Inside you’ve standard-fit leather seats, plus Audi's MMI Radio Plus system with sat-nav across the whole range. Once you’ve used the keyless access to get inside, the leather seats provide a great balance of comfort and support, while all the switches, controls and surfaces are all up to Audi's familiar high-quality standard. There's also two-zone climate control and a 180W 10-speaker audio system, which also has Bluetooth and auxiliary connectivity supplied as standard. In terms of driving comfort, you get hill start assist and parking sensors to keep everything nice and easy. The air suspension that's fitted as standard across the entire range offers a smooth and comfy ride, nicely absorbing all bumps and potholes, while the interior is well insulated from engine, wind and road noise.
Practicality & boot space
Like the standard A6 that it's based on, the Allroad is wider, longer and lower than the previous model, which means it's much more spacious inside. It offers improved headroom in both the front and the back, with an additional litres of luggage space in the boot. That boot offers 565 litres of space with the standard-fit 60:40 split-folding back seats still in place, expanding to a hefty 1,860 litres once you’ve folded them flat, which trumps a BMW X5. If you intend to tackle some rougher terrain, then you can raise the air suspension by 15mm to give a better ground clearance, with extra protection from the Allroad's 30cm water-fording ability and stainless-steel under body stone shield. The other benefit of the raised height is that it's easier to load the boot than in the standard Audi A6.
Reliability & safety
The standard A6 and A6 Avant both secured the maximum five-star rating in the Euro NCAP crash safety tests, so you can expect the Allroad to provide top-drawer protection for its passengers. All models come with the added bonus of the quattro four-wheel drive system, making it safer when driving in bad weather conditions, too. Each car comes fitted with a driver's information system, tyre pressure monitoring, electronic stability control, seat belt monitoring, front, side and curtain airbags, ISOFIX child seat anchor points (including the front passenger seat with airbag deactivation function) and parking sensors as standard equipment. You can also add radar-based cruise control and lane keep assist as optional extras. As proven by Audi's ranking at number 10 in the manufacturers list of the 2013 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, Audi is big on reliability, and the Allroad's engine have been tried and tested across the rest of the A6 range, so there should be few problems. The standard A6 placed 27th in the top 100 cars rankings, too. The fit and finish is comparable to a NASA Space Shuttle, so we predict years of trouble-free motoring for anyone who chooses to run one as a family car. You get a three-year/60,000-mile warranty, with the option to increase to four or five years for £560 and £1,335, respectively.
Engines, drive & performance
The Allroad is more smooth and comfortable to drive rather than anything particularly exciting. That's not to say there isn’t enough performance – quite the contrary, thanks to the range of engines on offer – but it feels like a calm cruiser rather than an out-and-out sports car. Despite weighing an average 70kg less than the previous model, thanks to its aluminium bonnet, front wing, door parts and tailgate – the Allroad does still tips the scales at 1,855kg and does feel quite heavy. The steering is weighty, while there's slightly more body roll than in the regular A6 Avant. Beyond that, it's not massively different from the standard car, which is suitably precise and responsive. The seven-speed gearbox is certainly smooth, while comfort levels are really excellent. Meanwhile, there's plenty of grip thanks to the standard 18-inch wheels and quattro all-wheel drive. The biggest seller will be the 242bhp 3.0-litre diesel, which has plenty of power to make overtaking and motorway slip roads stress-free – going from 0-62mph in a time of 6.6 seconds. The 3.0-litre BiTDI is a monster, however, offering sports car-like acceleration, going from 0-62mph in 5.6 seconds.
Price, value for money & options
The Allroad is significantly more expensive that the standard Avant estate, but you do get an impressive list of standard features and accessories. This includes leather seats, Bluetooth connectivity, two-zone climate control, air suspension, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, heated door mirrors, an electrically-powered tailgate, DAB radio, automatic headlights and windscreen wipers, keyless go and a sat-nav. The list price is much higher than for say a Volvo XC70, so with the Allroad it really does come down to whether all the extra equipment and engine choices are what you’re looking for. And, if you get carried away with the options list you could easily add another £10,000 to the purchace price in the blink of an eye.