What is it?
The Audi A6 Allroad may only be a niche proposition but the Inglostadt off-roader-cum-estate has already impressed us in entry-level form.
The range was given a light facelift in 2015, which saw the 3.0-litre TFSI dropped and the V6 TDI engines given a bit more power – with the outputs increased to 215bhp, 268bhp and 316bhp from 201bhp, 242bhp and 310bhp respectively.
A new trim was also added to the well-equipped standard Allroad. The Sport trim adds a tad more luxury to an already well-equipped car, including electrically adjustable front seats, LED front and rear lights, tinted rear glass, bigger alloy wheels and a Valcona leather upholstery. This means an entry-level Allroad Sport model will set you back in excess of £50,000, more than a 268bhp Avant Black Edition.
The model we are interested in is the twin-turbocharged version, and on paper, the A6 Allroad BiTDI sounds hugely capable with its 479lb ft of peak twist lowdown giving it enough lowdown grunt to pull its near two-tonne mass up a rough track, while also being able to get to 62mph from a standstill in a barely believable 5.5sec.
What's it like?
The engine has plenty of lowdown grunt, so every time you dab the accelerator you get a lovely surge of power pushing you up to speed swiftly, so much so you take it for granted, while the two turbos spool up and give you added potency higher up the rev range. Such is the linear nature of the power delivery, there is never any hint of turbo lag.
And the engine keeps on giving, because pushing this 3.0-litre V6 diesel is no chore on your eardrums, as it produces a rather pleasant sound on the move, encouraging you to stab the accelerator further to see how deep the oilburner’s vocals are willing to go.
The eight-speed automatic fitted to the BiTDI Allroad is a conventional torque converter unit, unlike the dual-clutch version fitted to the single turbo versions.
As you expect the changes are smooth and unnoticeable as it goes about its business, while shifting gears manually is almost instantaneous.
The only issue with the gearbox is its insistence to hold onto a ratio as you cruise along, rather than going up through the gears as most units will. It feels as if it has been tuned to build and hold the revs for the premise of off-roading, but on the road it borders on irritating and requires you to press on slightly to encourage it to go up a ratio.
Even the air suspension fitted as standard to Allroads, has four different height settings, designed to give drivers the ability to adjust their A6 from low Avant stance through to a semi-high-riding feel. The suspension on the whole is very good at absorbing the ruts and lumps found on our scarred roads.
There is the odd occasion where a larger pothole will catch the suspension out, but the damping is so good that you only hear it rather than feel it. The A6 handles relatively well, with its bodyroll kept in check and its chassis taut enough to tackle faster corners with some verve. While the steering is quick and precise, it is uninvolving and remote which means there is very little here to appease keener drivers.
The interior is very much as we come to expect of Audi, which is to say, comfortable, ergonomical, well-put together and classy. Yes, the A6 is showing its age compared to the younger Volvo V90 Cross Country and E-Class All Terrain, but you wouldn’t complain being sat at the wheel for a long period of time.
Should I buy one?
You would have to acknowledge that you would be in a minority, as rugged estates of this nature tend to be. This toughened A6 is still as capable in the ride, comfort and practicality stakes as a conventional Avant, just with the ability to tackle trickier conditions away from the asphalt in its stride.
The BiTDI diesel engine is rather good and you would be hard pushed to find many, if any, faults with the powertrain, but look pragmatically at the figures and it is very expensive, less frugal and dirtier than its stablemates, and suddenly it looks a bit decadent alongside the lower-powered turbocharged 3.0 TDIs.
For us, our heart would say go for the BiTDI, but realistically, the entry-level 215bhp version would be as capable and all the car many would want.
Audi A6 Allroad Sport 3.0 BiTDI 320PS quattro
Where Redhill, Surrey; On sale Now; Price £59,700; Price as tested £70,165 Engine 2967cc, twin-turbocharged diesel; Power 315bhp at 3900-4600rpm; Torque 479lb ft at 1400-2800rpm; Gearbox 8-spd automatic; Kerbweight 1955kg; Top speed 155mph; 0-62mph 5.5sec; Fuel economy 43.5mpg; CO2 rating 172g/km; Rivals Volvo V90 Cross Country, Mercedes-Benz E-Class All Terrain