BELIEVE it or not, the A6 Allroad is the model that Audi’s very wealthiest customers go for.
Since its first incarnation it’s always done everything that these no doubt successful, confident and assured citizens want, from towing and basic off-road work (often at the same time) to comfortable cruising carrying five people and their luggage.
There’s a new Allroad out now, though, and while Audi says it’s the best yet, the discerning clientele will have the final say in how well it ultimately sells. There’s quite a lot to think about with the new range.
On the face of it it’s much the same, built solely in the Avant estate body style with flared plastic wheel-arch extensions and skirting to ward scrapes away from the paintwork. Things under the bonnet have changed a little since the last model, though.
On top of near-compulsory entry-level four-cylinder petrol and diesel options there are three versions of Audi’s very highly-rated V6 diesel. The single-turbo 201bhp and 242bhp engines are known and loved by thousands of existing large VW Group car owners, but a new range-topper adds something extra.
That something extra is a thumping mid-range wedge of torque, and the name of the powerhouse is the 3.0-litre BiTDI; a twin-turbo engine based on the familiar V6 oil-burner but with less turbo lag and quite a lot more shove. More of this later on.
The top brass at Audi openly recognise that no version of the Allroad will give you the driving thrills of, say, the R8 supercar, but other than that, the Allroad is claimed to be just about the best Audi you can buy – that is to say the Audi that ticks the most boxes in terms of what makes owning a car a joy.
Starting with the basics, the quality is very high. Materials in the cabin feel substantial and thick, while the textures and panel fit are first-rate. A neat touch is that the large colour infotainment screen retracts and slides into the dashboard, keeping the centre console neat and improving security.
Speaking of the screen, the MMI interface is an optional extra but it provides a genuinely easy way of exploring and customising the myriad options within the car’s systems, from audio to communications and from suspension to seat belts.
Here lie the only two niggles the car seems to have. For one thing, the MMI wheel turns anti-clockwise to cycle down through a list, when clockwise seems the much more intuitive way to do it – in fact that’s the way most manufacturers do it. That said, it’s hardly a deal-breaker.
Secondly, and perhaps more significantly, there are just too many options and settings. As you delve deeper and deeper into the menus it becomes like the film Inception, where before too long half the audience aren’t sure what’s going on any more or how many layers down they’ve gone. A little simplification would be welcome here.
A lot of the most appealing kit is optional and sometimes rather expensive, but Audi believes the sub-1,000 customers per year who will plump for the Allroad won’t at all mind adding four-figure options.
The BiTDI really is the engine to have for those looking for the best. It’s quick to respond when the eight-speed automatic gearbox is set to Dynamic mode, and the sheer grunt all the way from 1,500rpm to 5,000rpm is monumental. It’s a hugely rapid car, but it’s the light, free-revving nature and stage-managed noise that make the difference. A sound actuator in the exhaust can be set to create a growl not unlike a large petrol V-engine. It’s not entirely organic but it is clever and it does work.
Then there’s the ride. Our test car had been given the optional 20-inch wheels, which look great but usually ruin a car’s road comfort entirely. But in combination with clever suspension the A6 Allroad floats over most bumps and manages its considerable body weight with astonishing ease. The number of cars that ride this well on wheels this size can be counted on the fingers of one hand.
The boot is big with in-built luggage restraints, there’s a space-saver spare wheel (which needs to be inflated before use), the sat-nav is clear and efficient, even if its pronunciation could perhaps use some refining, and the available space for rear passengers is excellent. The Allroad will even tow up to 2.5 tonnes. It’s a fabulously talented thing.
It’s almost impossible to criticise this car. Alright, there are a couple of niggles and you might hear derisive comments from people who’d never buy this sort of car anyway, but the truth is that the A6 Allroad will do almost everything you could ever want a five-seat car to do, and it’ll exceed your expectations every time.
FACTS AT A GLANCE
Model: Audi A6 Allroad Quattro 3.0 BiTDI, £49,445 on the road.Engine: 3.0-litre V6 diesel producing 309bhp and 479lb.ft of torque.Transmission: 8-speed automatic gearbox permanently driving all four wheels.Performance: Top speed 155mph, 0-62mph in 5.6 seconds.Fuel economy: 42.2mpg.CO2 rating: 176g/km.