AUDI A6 ALLROAD REVIEW
Engine: 3.0 litre V6 turbodiesel | Power/torque: 180kW/580Nm
Transmission: Seven-speed DSG (and Quattro AWD)
Fuel consumption listed: 6.3 l/100km | tested: 8.9 l/100km
Audi's new A6 Allroad is one very impressive wagon. At $117,000, it's premium buying – but, spend some time with it, and you’ll start doing the sums.
If you can find the necessary ambit in your wallet, and you’re looking for some sprawling room in the family transport, Audi has your wagon.
In fact, the sheer capability of this car, Audi's A6 Allroad, is proof positive that Australia’s love-affair with SUVs is a bit bonkers.
Whether getting the teenage lumps to the snow, or to Broken Hill, the A6 Allroad is a car made for Australian distances. For effortless travel, long-legged tourers don’t come much longer-legged than this.
Quality: Sure, there’ll be flaws somewhere in the leather and in the fit and finish. Somewhere… but I can’t find them.
It’s an impressive interior. The leather has a graining and feel that only quality hide can provide and all switchgear and controls are solid to the touch.
The brushed metal highlights, piano-black facings and carbon fibre garnishes are similarly classy.
There is a thin chrome-ringed screen display (with standard sat-nav), that slides out and up to nestle above the centre-stack when pressing the ignition; it is a beautiful piece of modern design.
Comfort: There is a snug serenity to the A6 Allroad’s interior. Once inside, you’re as good as cocooned; on better roads, wind and road-noise are banished and only on very coarse bitumen is there any intrusion at all.
The seats, front and back, are generously wide, have a vast range of adjustment, and nicely shaped for effortless long-distance travel. And front seats are heated (of course).
With the A6 Allroad though, most of the important stuff is loaded in.
Among the Allroad’s standard features are keyless entry and ignition, stop/start technology (so seamless you’ll forget it’s there), and dual-zone climate control.
There is also Audi's MMI media controller, sat-nav and rear-view camera, 60GB hard disk, Bluetooth with voice control, 10-speaker audio, CD, aux-in, and MP3 sound system (with noise cancellation technology).
Also standard are 20-inch alloy wheels and space-saver spare, automatic wipers and (Xenon) headlights, steering-mounted paddle shifters, powered tailgate and roller blind.
Storage: For a wide, deep load area, there’s not a mid-sized SUV in the country with a boot as cavernous as the A6 Allroad.
It offers 565 litres with the rear seats in place, 1680 Litres with them folded. There are also adjustable tie-down hooks, and a clever sliding divider to hold things in place when partially loaded.
There’s also an Audi cooler-bag to prevent the salmon from turning into a salmonella log on its way home from the supermarket.
Braked towing capacity is a reasonably hefty 2.5 tonne.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: This is a seriously good drive. From the wheel, it feels more ‘GT’ than family wagon.
It begins with the meaty and masterful 3.0 litre V6 diesel. With 180kW and a locomotive 580Nm to call on (from low, low in the rev range), the surge of power nestled under the right foot builds and builds like rising wave.
Whether powering away from the line, or bolting out and around a B-Double, the A6 Allroad has the urgency of a potent V8. Audi quotes a 0-100kmh sprint time of a very worthy 6.6 seconds.
The Quattro all-wheel-drive system, with a 40:60 rear bias, is mated to a seven-speed DSG (liquid-smooth once rolling and getting better with every iteration at lower speeds).
Gear changes are accompanied by a momentary ‘zink’, and down-shifts seamlessly rev-matched.
There are paddles for manual shifting but it’s only when driving quickly on gravel that operating the box manually adds to the experience.
In Sport-mode on looser surfaces, the traction control works like a catcher’s mitt.
It allows a degree of slide and traction loss (to cut through the loose top-surface gravel to the firmer footing below), but steps in ‘quietly’ if too close to the ragged edge.
But don’t take it too far off road. It’s good for the occasional excursion but is not an off-roader (and the owner’s handbook warns against it).
Refinement: Diesel? You’d hardly know it except for the flat omnipresent wave of torque waiting to lift you up and propel you into the distance.
The muscular 3.0 litre V6 under the Audi’s long wide bonnet ticks over with a very un-diesel-like smoothness, and, on the road, only a muted gruff groan alerts you to the ‘oiler’ under the bonnet.
Its party-trick though is the ‘wave cancellation’ technology built into the Allroad’s cabin. Unpleasant frequencies entering the cabin are cancelled out by a series of speakers nestled under the headlining.
The result is a serene and limousine-quiet interior, free from road noise on all but the worst tarmac.
Suspension: We’ve said it before; Audi does suspensions better than its close cousins in the VW Group.
Where some Euro suspensions pound and thump on our poorer Australian road surfaces, the A6 Allroad’s three-setting adaptive air-suspension retains a sporting elasticity while managing to soak up broken surfaces and irregularities.
It’s also incredibly well stuck down. You can belt it through mid-corner troughs or bumps, and it just takes it in its stride.
There are three height settings as well as performance settings. Over rougher roads, the Allroad can be raised to lift things up and out of harm’s way, or, if low-flying on a smooth road home, you can drop to the deck above 80km/h.
There is also, of course, the mid-point setting.
And the tyre monitoring system works. We picked up a flat tyre after a river crossing (courtesy of an unseen rock and a pinched low-profile sidewall).
No sooner had we noticed the slight change in the steering feel than the tyre monitoring alert chimed in.
Changing the tyre revealed another nifty feature.
After jacking up the Allroad, the suspension ‘logic’ stepped in and automatically raised the whole vehicle to its highest setting, allowing the tyre and wheel to easily be slipped under the guard.
ANCAP rating: Not rated in Australia, but 5 Stars with Euro NCAP.
Safety features: The Allroad naturally comes with the full Gladstone bag of safety features: tick off ESC, traction control, hill descent control, ABS and EBD etc. as well as parking sensors, reversing camera and tyre monitoring system.
There are eight airbags and Isofix child seat tether-points among a very long list of features.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years/unlimited kilometres with 24 hour Roadside Assist and Audi’s Warranty Plus option to extend cover for a further 12 months.
Service costs: Service intervals and pricing varies, best to consult your Audi dealer before purchase.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY:
Alone in a niche when launched a decade ago, the AWD Allroad has been further isolated by a swamp of fat SUVs used as urban wagons but masquerading as desert-stormers.
Perhaps its natural enemies are premium high-po wagons, rather than SUVs.
BMW 335i M Sport Touring ($101,954): The BMW stormer is a beautiful machine, and as superb for its fit and finish as much for its on-road prowess.
But its personality is quite different to the Audi; the 225kW/400Nm BMW is more the hammer, the Audi more the blade. (see 3 Series reviews)
Mercedes E 63 AMG Estate ($201,338.00): As monstrously expensive as it is powerful, but another beautiful machine with brooding style.
Hammer? The bi-turbo 386kW and 700Nm V8 AMG is a sledgehammer. It’s a performance brute with electric acceleration, but that huge price difference shines a very favourable light on the swift, well-rounded and stylish Allroad. (see E-Class reviews)
Note: All prices shown are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include on-road costs and charges.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Expansive, but sleek; Audi’s impressive A6 Allroad points and turns like a performance car and has the winged heels to suit.
It’s not for everybody – its premium price will ensure it stays in rarefied air – but it’s a smarter alternative to a premium SUV, especially for drivers who enjoy a finely balanced machine.
It’s the hedonist’s choice.
With the A6 Allroad, the keen driver can have his cake and eat it too. There’s ample room for the family, AWD sure-footedness and ground clearance for getting around the country property or the lash to the snow, and the power and handling of a sporting saloon.
This latest A6 Allroad is one of the best from Audi and a worthy bearer of the ‘Allroad’ Quattro badge.