What is it?
The entry point into the new Audi A6 Allroad range, complete with a 201bhp version of the car’s 3.0-litre V6 TDI engine. The engine is effectively a detuned version of the 241bhp version which is expected to represent the overwhelming majority of sales. Despite reduced running costs and a lower sticker price, the car we’re testing here will make up around seven per cent of all A6 Allroad sales.
That’s surprising, because thanks to weight being reduced by around 20 per cent over the old car through the extensive use of aluminium, on-paper performance is impressive. It’ll reach 62mph in 7.5sec and reach a 139mph maximum while returning 46.3mpg on the combined cycle and emitting 159g/km of CO2.
The 3.0-litre V6 is mated to a seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission. No manual option is offered. The A6 Allroad uses the same quattro all-wheel drive system as the standard A6, which splits torque 40/60 front to rear.
Standard air suspension with controlled damping allows the body to rise through 60mm from its lowest to highest setting and will adjust its ride height depending on speed.
The rough-and-tumble looks of the previous car have been toned down and the look is sleeker, which may or may not please customers. Part of the old car’s appeal was that it looked like it was capable of towing a horse box across a field (Audi says the equestrian market is a key one), while not having the controversial trappings of a proper SUV. Even so, in neither old nor new Allroad is the cladding likely to stand up to too much abuse from regular green-laning.
Certainly the versatility will suit the outdoor enthusiast markets; there’s 565 litres of boot space, growing to 1680 litres with the rear seats down, and the roof rails will carry up to 120kg. The 2500kg towing capacity is identical regardless of the powertrain. The new car is both wider and longer than the car it replaces.
What is it like?
The power deficit over other models certainly doesn’t reduce driver enjoyment.
The engine is refined and flexible and offers plenty of punch. Peak torque of 332lb ft arrives between 1250 and 3000rpm, so rarely is it left wanting when a burst of acceleration is required. Accelerating hard out of tight bends on our Dartmoor test route revealed a well matched set of gear ratios, and the fast-shifting S-tronic dual-clutch gearbox is decisive.
Over rough roads, sliced and diced by wear and poor repairs, the Allroad rides exceptionally well, and superb body control allows faster progress than would be possible in a tall SUV or a low-slung executive estate. On muddy, wet or poor roads, few cars are as able at speed. It is here where the standard air suspension earns its corn. In comfort or automatic settings, there is a superb balance of ride and precision; only the sportiest of the settings begins to upset the ride.
There is no less steering feel than the standard A6 Avant, either. Audi Drive Select is standard fit – now featuring an Efficiency mode to reduce power consumption of ancillary equipment – and works in conjunction with Dynamic Steering (a £1200 option) and Sports Differential (£1100).
Unsurprisingly, the 201bhp Allroad is the efficiency champion. Headline figures of 159g/km and 46.3mpg are 10g/km and 1.5mpg less than the 241bhp model. Audi claims it has best in class running costs.
Should I buy one?
If you do, you’ll be in the minority, but that’s not to say you shouldn’t. Running costs are impressive for a car this talented, but given the affluence of A6 Allroad buyers, the price differential isn’t enough to pull buyers from the more potent models.
It makes more sense as a company car, where its 25 per cent benefit-in-kind rating undercuts the equivalent Volvo XC70 by four per cent.
As an every day ownership proposition, and in isolation, the entry-level A6 Allroad is all the car you could ever need.
Audi A6 Allroad 3.0 TDI 204PS S tronic
Price: £43,150 0-62mph: 7.5sec Top speed: 139mph Economy: 46.3mpg CO2: 159g/km Kerb weight: 1855kg Engine V6, 2967cc, turbodiesel Power: 201bhp at 3250-4500rpm Torque: 332lb ft at 1250-3000rpm Gearbox: 7-spd dual-clutch automatic