Audi A6 Allroad quattro estate
"The Audi A6 Allroad is a desirable alternative to similarly priced SUVs and one that’s better to drive and more stylish"
- Sumptuous interior
- Expensive to run
- 45 TDI feels sluggish
- Smaller boot than rivals
SUVs might be dominating sales charts but the Audi A6 Allroad is a great alternative for anyone wanting an involving car to drive that also has some off-road ability. Air suspension means the Allroad can lift up or hunker down depending on the situation, making it an incredibly versatile car, even if it comes at a relatively high price.
Costing from well over £50,000, the A6 Allroad is expensive. You do at least get a lot of car for the money, and the Audi is cheaper than its closest rival, the Mercedes E-Class All-Terrain, while the Volvo XC90 Cross Country undercuts both because it’s available with smaller engines.
There's a lot to like about this type of car, and most enthusiasts will agree there's something seriously appealing about a big estate with flared wheel arches, chunky tyres and a clever suspension system. The Allroad's air suspension can raise the bodywork by up to 30mm in off-road mode, protecting the car’s undertray from rutted tracks and helping it climb over hills and pass through standing water without flooding the engine.
The A6 Allroad uses a 3.0-litre diesel engine with 228bhp or 282bhp, depending on whether you pick the 45 TDI or 50 TDI. Both come with the same eight-speed automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive, providing smooth progress, but the weight of the Allroad makes the 45 TDI feel slower than you might expect and it can only manage 37mpg. Both should make light work of towing, however, with a braked trailer limit of 2,500kg - 400kg more than the E-Class All-Terrain. Sharp handling easily outclasses the vast majority of SUVs too, with excellent body control that's helped by a low centre of gravity.
MPG, running costs & CO2
With quattro four-wheel drive and suspension designed to negotiate muddy tracks and ford streams, the Audi A6 Allroad is far from the most fuel-efficient model the manufacturer sells. There are concessions to running costs though, including new mild hybrid technology designed to save energy while braking and take some strain off the engine. That's on top of advanced stop/start technology to temporarily cut the engine while in traffic, and even when you lift off the accelerator at higher speeds.
These all help the Allroad to return up to 37.7mpg, a figure that's identical for both the 45 TDI and 50 TDI versions of the same 3.0-litre six-cylinder diesel engine. Hardly frugal, but a number that's on a par with rivals and potent SUVs. CO2 emissions of 153g/km put it in the top Benefit-in-Kind band for company-car drivers.
Other running costs are also going to be pricey, from high insurance to Audi servicing, along with expensive replacement tyres and brakes.
Engines, drive & performance
The most unique feature of the A6 Allroad is its adaptive air suspension, which can raise the car by up to 45mm or lower it by 15mm from its normal ride height. It's a feature more typically seen in SUVs than estate cars, and gives the Allroad its distinctive appeal for drivers who occasionally venture into the countryside. In its off-road setting it lifts by 30mm at speeds up to 50mph, while on the motorway it goes into its lowest stance to reduce drag.
However, the extra complexity has added weight, so the Allroad is around 160kg heavier than a normal Audi A6 Avant at just over two tonnes. Because of this, the 45 TDI version with 228bhp can feel like it's struggling at times, feeling wheezy when asked to pull quickly out of a junction or overtake slower traffic. That's despite its official 0-62mph time of 6.9 seconds and a top speed of 155mph.
With 282bhp the 50 TDI offers more punch, and it cuts the car’s 0-62mph time to 5.7 seconds, making it faster than most hot hatchbacks off the line. Both A6 Allroad models feature the same eight-speed automatic gearbox and quattro four-wheel drive. We tested a car fitted with Dynamic Steering (a pricey option), and found it direct and communicative, while the air suspension offers impressive comfort even with 20-inch wheels fitted. Body control is excellent too, which is vindication for anyone who chooses the Allroad over a tall SUV that will suffer from much more body roll in corners.
Interior & comfort
One of the major highlights of the A6 is its upmarket interior, which feels supremely well engineered and finely crafted, using a blend of metal, leather and soft-touch plastic. There are three digital screens in total: one for the Virtual Cockpit instruments, another for the infotainment and a third sitting below it that adjusts the car's climate control and driving functions. It's an impressive system but some may miss the control wheel, which has been replaced by a touchscreen and voice inputs.
The interior is available in black, beige or brown and the standard leather and Alcantara seats can be upgraded to Valcona perforated leather. The standard aluminium trim can also be swapped for two styles of wooden veneers.
Sport and Vorsprung trim levels are offered, with Sport versions getting silver roof rails, window surrounds and skid plates, and Vorsprung getting black versions. Sport comes with 19-inch alloy wheels, Matrix LED headlights, privacy glass and a powered tailgate, while Vorsprung adds 21-inch wheels, all-wheel steering, sports seats, a flat-bottomed steering wheel, a panoramic sunroof and a Bang & Olufsen stereo. It also benefits from Audi's Technology Pack that includes sat-nav, Audi Virtual Cockpit and wireless smartphone charging.
Practicality & boot space
It might not be as tall as a Porsche Cayenne or Range Rover, but the Audi A6 Allroad still offers plenty of room for tall adults in the front or back seats. There are lots of upmarket features too, including plush armrests, charging ports for your gadgets and four-zone climate control (in the Vorsprung version).
The powered boot opens to reveal a 565-litre boot, which is a small 21-litre reduction from the standard A6 Avant. This is likely to be big enough for most families but the Mercedes E-Class All-Terrain is even bigger, with a 640-litre boot that extends to a gargantuan 1,820 litres with the seats folded down.
Owners of a car like this are more likely to tow a trailer, boat or horsebox than most, and here the Audi scores points over its Mercedes rival. Both 45 TDI and 50 TDI versions can manage a 2,500kg braked trailer, compared with 2,100kg for the E-Class All-Terrain.
Reliability & safety
Given how much the A6 Allroad costs, you'd expect it to be extremely safe. The A6 has an extremely strong crash structure, and features like autonomous emergency braking helped it achieve a five-star Euro NCAP crash-test score. Vorsprung versions are also fitted with a City Assist Pack that adds features like blind-spot warnings and a system that prepares the car if a collision is about to occur, closing windows and tightening seatbelts.
Despite the desirability of the Audi badge, owners responding to our 2019 Driver Power survey only ranked the German manufacturer 16th out of 30 brands. That was up two places from 2018, though, and ahead of BMW and Mercedes. Meanwhile, Volvo, Jaguar and Lexus were more highly regarded. Most Audi foibles seem to be related to electrical gremlins and the high running costs associated with servicing and insurance.