THE third-generation Audi A6 Allroad quattro will be a strictly niche model, with just 150 units to be made available to Australian customers from this week starting at $117,900 plus on-road costs.
The new model is larger, quicker and more frugal than before, while Audi claims it has almost $20,000 worth of extra standard equipment over its predecessor to offset the corresponding $11,900 price hike.
The company expects the car will fill a small void in the market for adventurous buyers who don't want a comparatively mainstream luxury SUV like the Q7, instead preferring the dynamism and lower body profile of a crossover-style vehicle.
This differentiation is furthered by the Allroad’s substantial $27,900 premium over the equivalent 3.0 TDI Q7, which starts from $90,000.
Many buyers of the first-generation Allroad launched in 2001 switched to the follow-up in 2007, and Audi naturally expects many of those customers to move into the latest version.
While the limited supply is partially attributed to strong global demand, Audi Australia said limiting the number of cars to a neat 150 units was also a ploy to add a further level of exclusivity.
The company also took this approach to the conceptually similar – but smaller and far cheaper – A4 Allroad quattro launched alongside the A6 this week (see separate story).
With sales projections of at least ten cars per month, the company's staggered local supply will likely run out toward the end of next year, but the company said there was the potential to order another batch down the track.
Power for the A6 version comes exclusively from a 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 engine, which sends 180kW of power and a thumping 580 Nm of torque (available from 1750rpm) through all four wheels via a seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic transmission.
The Allroad thus becomes the solo A6 Avant variant offered in Australia with either six-cylinder power or quattro all-wheel-drive (the two existing regular variants are four-cylinder and front-drive), while the equivalent 3.0 TDI A6 quattro sedan costs $116,500 – just $1400 less than the Allroad.
Audi claims this engine is enough to hustle the big crossover – which tips the scales at 1855kg un-laden – from standstill to 100km/h in 6.6 seconds, while combined fuel consumption is kept down to 6.3 litres per 100km – down 16 per cent on the old one.
The new model also has a towing capacity of 2500kg – an important figure, says Audi, since many prospective buyers will wish to hitch their Allroad up to a boat trailer.
As with previous iterations of the Allroad, the new model is differentiated from the regular A6 Avant by additions like flared wheel arches, stainless steel underbody protection and adaptive air suspension that can raise or lower the ride height depending on the driving mode selected.
When stationary, the Allroad sits 60mm higher than the regular A6 Avant on which it is based, but the air suspension system automatically lowers the ride by 15mm when travelling above 80km/h and can raise it by 35mm when the 'drive select' system is set to 'comfort'.
An additional tap of the button raises the height a further 10mm, giving the car an SUV-like 175mm of clearance. Its credentials off the beaten path are furthered by a 77mm reduction to the front overhang over the previous model, helping approach and departure angles.
The quattro mechanical AWD system has 40:60 rear wheel bias, and can send up to 85 per cent of torque to the rear axle if required.
At 4940mm long, 1898mm wide and 1474mm high, the new model is 6mm longer, 36mm wider and 13mm higher, while the wheelbase has grown 72mm, helping free up more passenger and cargo space.
The loading area can accommodate 565 litres, expanding to 1680 litres with the seats folded (not entirely flat), while an electric tailgate and storage rails are also fitted as standard.
Underneath is an electromechanical power-steering system, 20-inch alloy wheels with 255/40 tyres (and a space-saver spare) and aluminium multi-link front and rear suspension.
Standard equipment includes ventilated leather seats, satellite navigation, four-zone climate control, front/rear-view camera, Xenon headlights with daytime LEDs, automatic lights and wipers and transmission paddle shifters.
Despite the price jump, there remains an array of optional extras including a panoramic sunroof ($2980), a 14-speaker 600 watt Bose sound system ($1950) and Audi active lane and side assist with park assist and adaptive cruise control with pre-sense plus ($6140).