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Audi A6 Allroad review (2012 onwards)
Summary: all-new Audi A6 Allroad promises more space, a better drive, increased efficiency and the same go-anywhere attitude
We like: stonking 3.0 V6 diesels, interior space and quality, versatility
We don't like: light steering, feels heavy in tight corners
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This is the third generation of the Audi A6 Allroad, a model that has been around since 2000 and offering car-like qualities with SUV-rivaling capability.
For 2012, though, the Allroad is a far-cry from the jacked-up first gen car, looking less rugged and utilitarian and more suitable to plodding over mud-filled potholes on the Kings Road.
It still looks more focused than the regular A6 Avant with body-protecting plastic covering the wheel arches and stainless steel protecting the sills and underbody, and it rides six centimetres higher and provides more space inside.
The latest Allroad is also 20% lighter thanks to liberal use of aluminium and bringing the weight down by 70kg, but the most exciting development is the introduction of a new bi-turbo diesel engine.
This 3.0-litre turbo unit offers 313hp and 479 lb/ft of torque mated to an eight-speed tiptronic gearbox. It's ferociously quick and has lovely meatiness throughout the rev range, but the most thrilling thing about this engine is the menacing grumble it makes from idle. However, at £49,445, it's the most expensive of the range and will only account for 5% of sales.
So I switch into the predicted biggest seller, the 3.0 TDi with 245hp and 428 lb/ft of torque, expected to account for more than three-quarters of UK sales.
It's no slouch either, proving forceful low down and keen to respond thanks to a dual-clutch seven-speed gearbox that fires through changes for blistering cross-country pace. With four-wheel-drive and a 60/40 torque split rear/front, this makes the Allroad a devastating all-weather machine.
Another diesel, a 201hp 3.0 V6, is available, but unless you need the best economy possible, sacrifice a few less mpgs for the mid-range diesel's broader range of talents.
Ride & handling
The Allroad is a big car, but at speed it belies its size and heft, and covers ground with great nimbleness thanks to electromechanical power steering that actually guides the A6 with some precision.
Torque vectoring brakes the wheels on the inside of a bend to ensure a tighter line and to aid traction. In action it's mesmerising: you think you're arrived at a bend too fast but the Allroad somehow seems to find grip and launch you out the other side with a squeal of protesting tyre noise.
There is also a four-level air suspension system as standard, which lowers the body by 15mm at high speed and raises it by 35mm for rough surfaces. And the Audi drive select set-up, which at the touch of a button, tunes the responsiveness of the steering, throttle and suspension.
Even in Sport, only badly-surfaced roads will upset the suspension: at all speeds you can feel a pitter-patter but rarely do bumps overwhelm the dampers.
The new Allroad is an all-round bigger car than the last one, so that means more space for heads, shoulders, legs and luggage. The boot holds anything from 565-1,680 litres and, if that isn't enough room for you, you can add roof bars that can take the weight of 120kg - or in other words, quite a fat man. Inside, it is the exact same as the regular A6 Avant save for a few badges. Life in here couldn't be more wonderful, imbuing elegance, durability and technology.
Economy & safety
Active safety systems like lane assist and a night vision system that warns of pedestrians, plus a pre-braking system that predicts a frontal impact at speeds below 19mph, mean this car is at the pinnacle of car safety.
All models benefit from a stop-start system, too, helping to reduce emissions and bring about a 20% improvement in fuel economy.
The entry-level diesel returns 46.3mpg and emissions of 159g/km, rising to 44.8mpg and 165g/km for the most popular diesel. The stonking bi-turbo returns 42.2mpg and 176g/km.
MSN Cars verdict
The Allroad is the consummate all-rounder. It's fuel efficient, engaging to drive, superbly built and fast whatever the conditions without any of the compromise that comes with owning a regular 4x4. It's the car equivalent of a Swiss Army knife.
|Need to know|
|Engines, petrol||3.0 V6 TFSI|
|Engines, diesel||3.0 V6 diesel|
|Power, hp||204 - 313|
|Torque, lb ft||331 - 479|
|0-62 mph, secs||7.5 - 5.6|
|Top speed, mph||155 (limited)|
|Mpg combined||31.7 - 44.8|
|CO2, tax||159 - 206 (25- 29%)|
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