2012 Audi A6 Allroad review

  • New Audi A6 Allroad driven
  • Based on A6 Avant, with choice of four V6 engines
  • On sale now from 43,150; first deliveries in July
Words ByAndy Pringle

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The Audi A6 Allroad is the latest model in the new A6 line-up, joining the saloon and Avant estate.

This third-generation Allroad follows the same principles as its predecessors, giving buyers a car that's a cross between a regular estate and an SUV.

Based on the A6 Avant, the Allroad is six centimetres higher and has extra ground clearance.

Beyond that, it is further distinguished by its 4x4-style bodykit, with the wheelarches, bumpers and sills finished in a contrasting colour (although they can be body-coloured at extra cost). The package is completed by a steel underbody guard and aluminium roof rails.

The engine range (all V6s) includes just one petrol unit the 3.0-litre TFSI alongside three versions of a 3.0-litre diesel.

Power outputs run from 201bhp to 309bhp, and all four engines are paired with Audi's S-tronic semi-automatic gearbox.

Every Allroad also comes with quattro four-wheel drive and adaptive air suspension, and prices start at 43,150 for the lowest-powered diesel model.

The biggest seller is expected to be the 44,690 mid-range diesel, while the range tops out with the 49,500 bi-turbo BiTDI diesel.

Whats the 2012 A6 Allroad like to drive?
Unsurprisingly, the A6 Allroad feels very much like the A6 Avant: safe, solid and reassuring.

We tested the entire engine range with the exception of the least powerful diesel, and all give the car a decent turn of speed.

The pick of the bunch is the mid-range diesel, which delivers flexible and strong performance, as well as costing sensible money to buy and run.

The BiTDI is certainly faster, but what strikes you more than the outright pace is the effortless way it goes about producing its performance.

With this engine, its very easy to get frankly indecent pace from such a big car. However, given the 5000 extra the BiTDI will cost to buy and its slightly less impressive economy 42.2mpg rather than 44.8mpg we think the less powerful version is the one to go for.

The petrol engine, too, gives strong performance, but only if you work it comparatively hard. Not only are the diesel engines more relaxing to drive, theyre easier on the ear, too, because you dont have to keep the revs up as high for as much of the time as you do with the petrol.

Their low-down strength also helps them work more effectively with the semi-automatic gearbox; with the more rev-hungry petrol engine, the 'box can sometimes take a while to pick the right gear.

Whichever engine you choose, the A6 Allroad is a pleasant car to drive, and it copes particularly well with motorway stretches. Here, any engine noise fades into the background, and all you hear is some wind noise from around the big door mirrors.

Across country, the Allroad takes sweeping bends in its stride, but once the road gets tighter, you cant escape the cars sheer bulk.

The Allroad's higher suspension makes it more prone to body roll than the A6 Avant, too, particularly if you get aggressive with your steering inputs.

Whats the 2012 A6 Allroad like inside?
Other than the Allroad badges dotted around the place and the unique design of floormats, the Allroad is identical to the A6 Avant inside, which is no bad thing.

In the front, theres plenty of room for the driver and passenger, and a wide range of adjustment to the seat and wheel to ensure a good driving position.

The quality of materials and assembly is as excellent as youd expect of an Audi, so all that may cause concern is the MMI infotainment system. This takes a bit of getting used to because the four function buttons grouped around the main control dial relate to different commands depending on which menu youre in at the time.

In the back of the Allroad, theres room for a couple of six-footers, but the large central transmission tunnel in the floor makes it awkward for three to sit across the rear bench.

The boot is an impressive size and comes with all the neat practical touches (such as straps and lashing points) that so impress in the Avant.

The 60/40 split rear seats drop down to extend that space further, but they dont fold completely flat and are quite heavy to set back in the upright position.

Should I buy one?
The A6 Allroad is very much a niche product, but if you want a car that combines estate-car practicality with the added versatility of some off-road ability, and all without the image problems of a bespoke 4x4, the Allroad could be just your cup of tea.

Indeed, with the Volvo XC70 its only direct rival, the A6 Allroad is pretty much all there is out there and certainly worth a look.

That said, only the diesel-engined models make sense. Not only does the petrol engine have the worst fuel economy, it also has the weakest resale values, pushing up ownership costs.

Also, remember that you can already buy the four-wheel-drive A6 Avant quattro. It might not have the ultimate ability, or style, of the Allroad, but it does have price on its side.

Audi A6 Avant
Volvo XC70

What Car? says

Andy Pringle