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First Drive

First Drive: Audi A6 Allroad

The story:
Audi’s jacked-up semi-off-road A6 Allroad hits its fourth generation with the arrival of a version based on the latest A6 Avant launched in 2018.
Key rival:Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain
AUDI A6 Allroad 45 TDI quattro 231 Sport
On sale:Now

While Audi heads off into all sorts of crossover niches, it also continues to build a car that was once a niche addition itself, but is now at the grand old age of four.

The new A6 Allroad is the fourth iteration of the raised ride-height and plastic-clad estate that offers a degree of off-road ability over a regular A6 Avant without the higher centre of gravity and handling compromises of a full SUV.

Up to 45mm higher than the Avant, the new Allroad comes with a pair of diesel engines – the so-called 45 and 50 TDI models that offer 231hp and 286hp respectively, with a petrol engine to be added in the new year.

Both diesels offer the same efficiency figures of 37.7mpg and 153g/km of CO2 in Sport trim, with slight increases for the higher Vorsprung model thanks to its larger alloys.

First Drive- November 2019-Audi A6 Allroad- Image 2The Allroad gets additional standard kit to reinforce a degree of off-road ability that the cladding round the wheelarches in particular is supposed to portray. It includes hill descent control and a tilt angle assist systems, the latter being a display that shows the driver the current longitudinal and transverse angles the car is at, and alerting the driver when the car is at risk of tipping over.

The adaptive air suspension is fitted to all Allroads, and is tuned for off-road use to adjust ride height for mode and speed.

The lower-powered diesel driven here is more than £4000 cheaper than the 286hp 50-badged model, and is the sensible bet unless the extra power will be useful for towing, for instance, where the car is capable of pulling 2.5 tons. It’s a shame that the combination of engine and eight-speed automatic transmission can be hesitant on occasion, but the suspension set-up if anything suits the Allroad better than the regular A6. It’s appreciably softer and rides well, making for a comfortable and unflustered driving experience.

It is a shame that the car looks less of an Allroad than some of the previous generations, with the cladding and general sense of off-roadness has been toned down. It looks lower and subtler than before, and isn’t quite as easy to differentiate from a regular A6 Avant. Which isn’t great, given there’s the best part of £10,000 difference between the two in corresponding specs.

paul barker

The verdict

New A6 Allroad is still the best at what it does, in a very niche pool, and is possibly the most appealing car in the A6 line-up. It’s just a shame that it doesn’t stand out compared with the regular Avant as much as it used to.