If you’re looking for a fast estate car that can also venture off-road, then Audi’s new A6 Allroad Quattro could be just the ticket, says Ed Coles
At first glance, you might think you’re reading the wrong magazine, testing an Audi A6. But hold your horses — on closer inspection we may have found something that could fit the bill for country sports types.
The Audi A6 Allroad Quattro is essentially an A6 with adjustable air suspension and four-wheel drive, though I probably won’t risk trying to fit a spinner on the back to go feeding.
Audi A6 Allroad Quattro – sleek and stylish
As estate cars go it’s quite sleek and stylish, almost pretty from a certain angle. The 20in wheels don’t look out of place, though I can’t help wondering if anyone makes a 20in low-profile tyre capable of off-roading.
It’s time to pull out that trusty feed bag and see how promising things look underneath. There’s not much to report, unless black plastic excites you — most of the workhorse bits are hidden safely away behind a fortress of shielding.
There are a few glimpses of the permanent 4WD set-up and a few gizmos, but not a lot. The all-road has a central self-lockable differential, and we don’t need to see it to know it’s there. Audi has form with the quattro set-up — those of a certain age will recall Audi’s world rally success.
We can see the independent air suspension front and rear that cushions the big A6 — it is an important part of the all-road system. The air suspension raises and lowers the car depending on which driving mode is selected. Of course, the off-road setting gives us a little more breathing space when it comes to the front and rear clearance.
The tailgate is quite fancy with one-touch auto-opening and closing, so stand back. There’s a decent amount of space back here but it’s deep rather than tall. It’s not ideal for accommodating a dog box, but a small one would fit in. There is enough space for all the essential sporting kit, by my guesstimate, using the standard bag of wheat measurement, around seven to eight full bags. There is also enough room to accommodate 32in barrels — just about.
Opening the bonnet, lurking beneath the plastic on our test model is a 3-litre V6 TDI engine, which stables 282 horses. It certainly packs a punch and with the eight-speed Tiptronic automatic gearbox it soon propels you to speeding fine territory.
The A6 all-road is offered with three different 3-litre engine variants, with output ranging from 228hp to 344hp. All use Audi’s mild hybrid technology (MHEV) system, which can reduce fuel consumption by up to 0.4 litres over 62 miles using regenerative braking via the alternator/starter, feeding a separate battery.
As it is an Audi, you would expect it to be a bit plush and it is. The interior is best enjoyed when dark — it’s like a neon cocktail bar. All mod cons are present and correct, and the central touchscreen controls myriad devices. The satnav uses satellite imaging and I was simply blown away by it — I could do with it to show my beaters where to go on shoot days.
The interior is very comfortable with a few options making it a bit more luxurious, ranging from a Bang & Olufsen stereo to an extended leather package.
Everything is controlled from the touchscreen, be it the climate control, the radio or driving mode selection. There are seven driving modes — Allroad, off-road, efficiency, dynamic, comfort, auto and individual. Auto and comfort give you a standard ride height of 139mm, which is pretty reasonable; 45mm higher than the standard A6. However, the faster you go, the lower the suspension sits. Motorway driving at more than 74mph — though illegal — lowers the ride height by 15mm.
Off-road with the Audi A6 Allroad Quattro
So for a little off-piste driving. With off-road selected, the height again adjusts depending on speed. If you want to avoid those ruts, don’t go faster than 20mph as the suspension will drop from 184mm to 169mm. Don’t then go over 49mph or you could be in trouble.
The Audi A6 Allroad Quattro also has hill-descent control along with a lockable diff, so on paper it should be able to cope with an adventure or two
Does it do what it says on the tin? The Allroad feels stable on country lanes and is very much at home on the motorways. For a big vehicle it’s quite spirited on the back roads. The automatic gearbox works well and manual mode is fun using the paddle gear change.
It handled the ruts pretty well but I wouldn’t take too many liberties with it, and I certainly wouldn’t want to scratch it. I do wonder how the big 20in wheels and low-profile tyres would cope on really rough and wet ground. That said it’s pretty capable for an estate car on stilts, and most importantly it didn’t get stuck.