Someone at Audi HQ in Ingolstadt plainly wasn’t paying attention during their English lessons. The result is the A6 allroad quattro wears badging without capital letters. In future I will be spelling it properly. Thankfully the engineering department clearly did have their eyes fixed to the blackboard.
The Allroad is a great concept: a regular estate with go-anywhere capability. It’s got off-road equipment like Hill Descent Control. Of course it’s four-wheel drive; and you can raise the ride height courtesy of the air suspension. However, I’m not sure I’d rather have this than a regular SUV if I was going to be spending a lot of time in the muddy stuff. But I won’t be. And nor will the majority of Allroad drivers making it road-biased for a reason, although it’s a big car and you really notice its girth on rural roads.
While Audis are rightly praised for the beauty of their interiors, for me, the engine and transmission are the high point of the A6 Allroad. The creamy 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel has a hefty 428lb ft of torque meaning a remarkably swift 0-60mph time of 6.6 seconds. Claimed economy is 44.8mpg on the combined cycle and I’m regularly easing into the early 40s. This gives me hope that when the engine is properly run-in the manufacturer’s estimate will be attainable.
Of course the interior is a work of art. But at night it’s particularly lovely, glowing red and white with digital clarity to its analogue feel. The alcantara suede seats are initially comfortable too. However, they adjust up and down as well as tilting which causes a bit of to-ing and fro-ing between Mrs F and I because I like lots of support under my legs, she doesn’t.
That brings me to the pedals. As with so many cars that are designed to be left-hand drive, in swapping the steering wheel over, the pedals have had to be angled slightly to the left obviously to cater for something in the bowels of the engine compartment. You don’t notice it on short trips. But on longer journeys the very slightly different angle that my legs have to point in relation to my body snuggled into the seat manifests itself in lower back ache. There is an answer: I sit pointing slightly to the left. It feels a bit weird initially but it’s better than back pain.
As with other Audis, it’s got the company’s excellent MMI system to control just about every electronic function on the car. Initially I spent time deliberating over the best setting. But aside from having the engine set to Sport, where gears are held for longer, or Economy where the engine feels like a 1.6, I’ve come to the conclusion that it actually doesn’t make a huge difference so it tends to get left on Auto.
That said, I haven’t quite got to grips with the MMI Touch electronic ‘pad’. The idea seems straightforward. Instead of using the regular MMI controller to select letters from a list, you trace it on the pad with your finger. That’s fine for me: I’m left handed. It’s not so easy for the majority. Plus I’ve found with letters like Ps and Ms it works satisfactorily. But it does get confused between V and U, 1 and I and 5 and S. That might be my writing, or it might be a technology leap too far.
One thing that definitely isn’t is the Direct Shift Gearbox. It’s seven speed and with all that torque it’s quick to grab its smallest ratio. Thanks to the twin clutches, changes are almost imperceptible. My one complaint is the same person responsible for the car’s name clearly had a hand in calling this S-tronic with a lower case t.