Car reviews - Audi - A6 - Allroad
Head-turning styling, luxurious cabin features, locomotive engine, doesn’t mind dirt
Room for improvement
Needs a big park bay, fussy console
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4 May 2015
By NEIL DOWLING
LIFE’S changing demands create consumer-goods options in everything from shoes to kettles but few have the diversity of a car.
The trick is to have a weapon of choice that covers as many bases as possible and, in the past 20 years, that’s been the role of the SUV. But what if even that wasn’t enough?Audi launched its first A6 Allroad in 2001 as a prestige family wagon with go-pretty-much-anywhere capabilities. This week it unveiled its mid-life third generation of the same concept.
Bigger, more luxurious, loaded with convenience and safety tricks and a car with a massive appetite for open roads of any surface, the A6 Allroad quattro gives a lot for its $111,900, plus on-road costs.
At a fraction under five metres long, this is a substantial wagon that is only 150mm shorter than the imposing Audi Q7 seven-seat SUV.
In the flesh it’s long, stretched and sleek and more like a performance wagon than one with an off-road bent.
The wagon design is sharper than the previous model thanks to a new nose and tail. The rest is carried over from the A6 range although there has been substantial improvements to refinement on the way up.
Cabin treatment is typical of Audi with superb materials and perfect fit and finish. The choice of materials and colours is buyer dependent and seemingly restricted more by the size of the wallet.
The impressive colour monitor is central to the dashboard and to the operation of the A6. It’s big, bright and cleverly graphic with its sat-nav mapping that it appears more like a birds-eye view of the surroundings.
Audi has raised the bar with its infotainment, using a faster platform and program and upping the colour depth of the screen to 24-bits from 18-bits.
It also has faster phone charging via the USB port, SIRI support, an SD card for free map upgrades and takes up to 4000 entries in the phone book, up from 2000.
There’s more detail in the dash and while it's clever and attractive the dashboard appears more cluttered. Certainly that’s the case in comparison with the A6 Allroad’s smaller sibling, the A4 Allroad.
Cabin space, however, is more than generous. Though the Allroad lacks the imposing height of the more traditional SUV players, there’s sufficient head and legroom in the back of this wagon. GoAuto tested with five adults and no-one complained about occupant comfort or space.
Better was the ride comfort. The A6 Allroad gets air suspension with four levels of height adjustment. This marries with a drive select program that guides the drivetrain through a separate five tiers from economy to dirt driving and to performance motoring.
Faced with a soft road surface or obstacles such as rocks, the Allroad will pump itself up to a clearance of 185mm which is well within SUV parameters.
But it has next to no suspension compliance at this height so progress over demanding terrain has to be at a slow pace.
Conversely, it will squat at 125mm clearance for high-speed cruising, with intermediate clearances of 140mm and 175mm.
Having these further options within the car adds to its flexibility and pleasingly changes its characteristics to suit the driver’s varying demands.
The A6 Allroad, now the only wagon in the A6 range, picks up the sedan’s 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel with 160kW of power at 4500rpm and torque of 500Nm from 1250-3000rpm. The flat torque delivery is the lynchpin to the flexibility of this car.
It is also the only engine for Australia. Some European markets have a greater choice, including the bi-turbo version of the same engine that cranks 235kW/650Nm and is found in a sedan variant in Australia.
But the sole engine seems to be sufficient. On the stretch of roads in the Northern Territory, from Darwin down to the Kakadu’s Mary River region on blacktop and gravel, the drivetrain was barely fussed.
At 1890kg dry, the A6 Allroad is no lightweight. Yet it will run – when pushed – the 0-100km/h sprint in a brisk 7.3 seconds and sparkle with its seamless power flow.
That bulk torque also gives impressive overtaking ability, on some occasions so strong that it ignored the opportunity to down shift.
The quietness of the ride is as impressive, though the absence of engine noise and minimal tyre roar served to enhance some wind noise around the front windows.
Handling is as predictable as the Allroad’s sedan sisters, although Northern Territory is renown for roads with sweeping curves and undulating altitudes.
For the launch, certainly the Allroad is a more stable machine than the Q7, for example, given its much lower height.
Audi claims an amazing 5.6 litres per 100 kilometres from its new Allroad. The test recorded 7.2L/100km but the car was pushed hard.
The A6 Allroad is a difficult car to put up against others. Its price puts it above similar all-wheel drive wagon concepts such as the Subaru Outback, Volkswagen Passat Alltrack, Skoda Octavia Scout and Volvo XC70.
Its style also moves it away from the more bulbous SUV offerings. It is the wagon for everyone with demands for flexibility and the occasional run away from the bitumen – with the extra need for luxury.
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