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Driven: Audi A6 allroad quattro. Image by Matt Robinson.

Driven: Audi A6 allroad quattro
Audi's third-generation allroad quattro could well be the nicest, most competent all-round A6 you can buy.

 



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| Test drive | Audi A6 allroad quattro |

Overall rating: 5 5 5 5 5

Good points: stunning ride, super-smooth drivetrain, elegant appearance inside and out, plenty of space and practicality.
Not so good: it's pricey, engine isn't EU6 compliant.

Key Facts

Model tested: Audi A6 allroad 3.0 TDI quattro S tronic 245hp
Pricing: 45,350 basic; 54,555 as tested
Engine: 3.0-litre V6 turbocharged diesel
Transmission: four-wheel drive, seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic
Body style: five-door estate
CO2 emissions: 165g/km
Combined economy: 44.8mpg
Top speed: 147mph
0-62mph: 6.6 seconds
Power: 245hp from 4,000- to 4,250rpm
Torque: 580Nm from 1,750- to 2,500rpm

Our view:

On the scene since 1999, Audi's allroad models have always been easy to spot - they're often clad in a load of lower-body black plastic and they ride like they're on stilts. Whether this sort of crossover ethos (it's trying to be midway between a normal Avant estate and a Q-model SUV) works for you or not will determine whether you'd ever even consider buying an allroad. But it would seem Audi is trying to downplay the latest car's extra off-road ability, because our test example looked just like a normal A6 Avant - in Oolong Grey metallic (655), it was also equipped with the 535 full-paint finish option, which coats its wheelarch extensions and the bottom section of its bumpers in the same colour as the rest of the car. You can still spot the silver underbody protection front and rear, but from a distance it's just a posh estate.

And we loved it for that. OK, it might seem daft to opt for an allroad and then make it look like an S Line Avant, but the extra bit of muscle those aforementioned wheelarch spats give the car combine with the A6's chiselled looks to make it classier than ever. Plus it has a big 'singleframe' grille at the front, which evokes thoughts of RS models. Meanwhile, the interior is faultless. That ought to be the standard shorthand now for Audi cabins; we can't remember one in the last 15 years that we haven't liked. Not only does the allroad's cockpit look and feel exceptional, but there's plenty of space for four adults inside (five if required) and it has a massive boot.

Audi UK offers just three engines for the allroad and they're all 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesels. The entry-level 204hp will probably be the best-seller, while there's a monstrous bi-turbo 313hp version at the top of the range. But this 245hp could be all the engine you'll ever need. It is as sweet as a nut, with a wealth of revs-wide torque and power to call on, while it performs in admirably hushed tones no matter what you're demanding of it. Coupled to the exceptional S tronic twin-clutch automatic transmission, there's very little you can criticise about the way the Audi goes about its business. Furthermore, it returned an average economy of 45mpg during 500 miles of mixed driving in our hands, which is superb for something of this size and power. The only black mark against it is that it is only up to EU5 emissions standards... if that kind of thing bothers your green conscience.

There are 18-inch alloys as standard on relatively fat-sidewall 55-section tyres, but Audi's press office opted to bump the spec of this car up with 2,445 worth of 20-inch five-parallel-spoke rims - these look fabulous, but they're bound to ruin the ride, right? Wrong. Long gone are the days that even modestly sporty Audis rode like they lacked any suspension at all. In fact, this allroad was so wonderfully supple with an incredible ability to filter out surface imperfections that on a number of occasions, it made us wonder if Audi had sent a normal Avant by mistake. The standard-fit air suspension is the star here, as in Comfort mode the car is supremely relaxing, despite its weighty 1,855kg mass.

Drop the A6 on its dampers into Dynamic mode and the whole case doesn't fall apart. The Audi still offers compliance but now it has firmer body control, making hustling the allroad along tighter lanes a pleasure. It's no sports car in disguise, granted, but for something which can ride so tall on its adjustable suspension, it easily exceeds expectations. Its appeal is furthered by nicely weighty and reasonably feelsome steering and strong brakes that aren't over-assisted. So punting it along at a fair old lick or swanning along a motorway are all well within the Audi's repertoire.

The one thing we didn't do was test it off-road. But it does have extra ground clearance, hill descent control and a tilt-angle display in the MMI infotainment system, which should all help if you ever find yourself in the middle of the desert. In Surrey. The more pertinent stat for road users is that its maximum towing weight is 2,500kg, which is more than a normal Avant can manage.

So is it worth the premium over a conventional A6 with the same engine? For some, the answer will always be 'no' - its perceived, but probably unnecessary, extra off-road abilities coupled with its attempts to look conventional will not swing steadfastly-anti folk. And for others, a 'proper' Q SUV will always be the first choice. But our time with it was an eye-opening delight - it rode magnificently whatever the conditions, provided wonderfully hushed and abundant performance and proved to be as practical and spacious as buyers could possibly require.

In our eyes, it's preferable to those Q-badged Audi SUVs and its rugged nature elevates it above other Avants, while the all-wheel drive USP differentiates it from BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar equivalents (for now). In fact, it was very hard to find fault with the allroad - so much so that even 55,000 doesn't seem like too much money; that's just about the going rate for this extremely high all-round level of quality. We liked the allroad a hell of a lot. In fact, we'd pick it over any of its current rivals right now.

Alternatives:

BMW 5 Series Touring: there are now 22 xDrive four-wheel drive models that aren't out-and-out SUVs in the BMW UK range, but none of them are Tourings - meaning, if you want the BMW, you'll have to sacrifice all-wheel drive.

Jaguar XF Sportbrake: as with the BMW and the Merc, the Jag... well, we think you know where we're going. Ageing interior and small boot aside, we'd recommend the 3.0d S as the Audi's closest rival.

Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate: as with the BMW, the 4Matic E-Class isn't sold in the UK. Also, the W212 version has been around for longer than the current A6 and isn't as handsome inside or out.


Matt Robinson - 19 Aug 2014









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2014 Audi A6 allroad quattro. Image by Matt Robinson.2014 Audi A6 allroad quattro. Image by Matt Robinson.2014 Audi A6 allroad quattro. Image by Matt Robinson.2014 Audi A6 allroad quattro. Image by Matt Robinson.2014 Audi A6 allroad quattro. Image by Matt Robinson.

2014 Audi A6 allroad quattro. Image by Matt Robinson.2014 Audi A6 allroad quattro. Image by Matt Robinson.2014 Audi A6 allroad quattro. Image by Matt Robinson.2014 Audi A6 allroad quattro. Image by Matt Robinson.2014 Audi A6 allroad quattro. Image by Matt Robinson.



2014 Audi A6 allroad quattro. Image by Matt Robinson.
 

2014 Audi A6 allroad quattro. Image by Matt Robinson.
 

2014 Audi A6 allroad quattro. Image by Matt Robinson.
 

2014 Audi A6 allroad quattro. Image by Matt Robinson.
 

2014 Audi A6 allroad quattro. Image by Matt Robinson.
 

2014 Audi A6 allroad quattro. Image by Matt Robinson.
 

2014 Audi A6 allroad quattro. Image by Matt Robinson.
 

2014 Audi A6 allroad quattro. Image by Matt Robinson.
 






 

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