Audi A6 Allroad 30 TDi Quattro

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Description: Audi A6 Allroad 3.0 TDI quattro car review from the AA. Overall car review rating: 9 out 10. Value for money: 7 out 10.

    Purposeful-looking exterior blends premium character with rugged design cues Extra ride height of air suspension and all-wheel drive Smooth and efficient diesel engine line-up Practical, luxurious and spacious cabin
    Some tempting options should be standard on a car of this standing Cabin won't stand up well to the rough and tumble of true off-road life On-road ride quality not quite as good as regular A6 Avant Despite adjustable ride height, off-road potential is limited

There are niche products, and then there's something like Audi's allroad. In reality, there really isn't much else like the German maker's rough-tough A6 Avant alternative. And if you're a cynic, be prepare to be disappointed - the allroad actually makes a lot of sense.

This is the second-generation allroad, the first was an offshoot of the previous generation A6. Obviously no fluke, the car's popularity warranted further investment by Audi, which is why it continues on the back of the larger and improved A6 you see here.

On the back of a mid-life refresh, this A6 allroad gains a few subtle exterior changes, although the purely cosmetic tweaks do little to detract from the car's underlying performance. Straddling the class line between executive estate and premium SUV, the allroad attempts to offer the best of both worlds for buyer who find the latter to be overkill - they won't be venturing off-road enough to justify the inherent compromises associated with proper SUVs.

And it's in this area that the allroad scores so highly. At its core it is a premium estate car, with all the luxury connotations associated with such a vehicle. The added value element essentially takes a perfectly reasonable A6 Avant, raises its ride height slightly, adds air suspension (with different user switchable height settings), all-wheel drive plus subtle but effective protective body cladding.

The end result is a better than average tow car, a premium estate capable of taking to the beaten track once in a while and a car capable of dealing with the worst the weather could throw at it. And all the while, you get to sit in the lap of leather-line luxury. If it's true that people who buy SUVs rarely exploit their capabilities, the allroad allows you to ditch the high-rise driving position and roll-heaving ride without any real compromise.

Audi has done well in recent years by identifying gaps, or niches, in the market and plugging them. The A6 allroad is one example; it's more premium estate than SUV, yet boasts all-wheel drive, adjustable suspension, a bash-proof exterior and a raised ride height. With no SUV-like compromised to battle with, the allroad proves itself to be a great all-weather, premium holdall.

With the allroad based on the A6 Avant, you can expect similar running costs. It's a premium class car so don't think routine servicing will be a bargain. That said, the diesel variants are frugal machines and Audi's reliability track record is good.

With the allroad available only as an estate, its practical nature should be immediately obvious. In an everyday context it's difficult to find fault. Although the allroad might not be the largest estate in this premium sector, what it does it does very well. Treating front and rear passengers equally in terms of space, the allroad's cabin is impressive. For a premium car oddment space is also impressive. At the rear, the loadspace is accommodating and versatile. Load dividers can be used to keep things from moving, while with the rear seats folded, the flat space is great for transporting bikes or other activity paraphernalia.

There's no cause for complaint here, with a full compliment of airbags present throughout the cabin. Anti-lock brakes and a clever array of electronic stability aids are also standard. Don't dismiss the all-wheel drive system as merely a marketing gimmick - in slippery conditions it could be a lifesaver.

Despite the allroad's raised suspension the car handles well. Buyers moving across from the A6 will notice only a small difference. In truth the A6 and allroad family are trumped by BMW in the keen driver stakes, although this generation of A6 has succeeded in closing the gap. For maximum financial enjoyment the car's diesel line-up is the way to go, with the 3.0-litre diesel unit surprisingly competent. On the road the allroad feels smooth and refined. That its all-wheel drive system and increased ride height allows you to leave Tarmac roads for the trail with confidence is an added bonus.

Benchmarked by the industry and praised by critics in equal measure, Audi interiors have become famous for their fit and finish. The allroad is no different, and just like the regular A6 it offers a pleasing combination of excellent fit, finish and choice of materials. And with an increasing number of models and sky-high demand, Audi products are on the shopping lists of a lot of people.

There's a subtle increase in ride height over the regular A6, and it's most welcome when it comes to getting in or out of the allroad's cabin. Everything else is pure A6 though, with the front doors opening wide and the back doors offering a reasonably-sized aperture. At the rear the car's extra height makes loading and unloading that little bit easier.

Unlike in the dim and distant past, Audi vehicles come with a decent audio unit as standard. In the case of the allroad the performance is as you would expect of a car in this price bracket. Also, there are a number of optional upgrades such as enhanced audio and sat-nav unit - the latter being the latest version with a 3D 'bird view' option plus an integrated music 'jukebox' feature.

As with all Audis the allroad looks best in modest metallic shades. Although the rougher and tougher cousin of the sedate A6 Avant, the allroad is no less refined, and deserves a similarly tasteful treatment - even the allroad's extended arches and rubbing strips look classy. Inside it's pure A6, with fit and finish far exceeding that of its closest rivals, while the choice of materials is first rate.

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