TEST DRIVE: Audi A6 Allroad — I Hate That I Love It

Credit: Original article published by QuattroDaily.

For years, I’ve bemoaned the existence of cars like the Audi A6 Allroad. The idea of taking a perfectly good Audi Avant, slapping ugly pseudo-rugged body cladding on its fenders, raising its ride height a bit, and calling it an “Allroad” always felt quite cynical to me. The whole point seemed to be to sell wagons to wagon-hating Americans under the guise of being “active”.

 

Plus, the very existence of Allroads, and their surprising success in the U.S. market, always reminded me of how we don’t get Audi Avants in the ‘States anymore. So when it came time to drive the new Audi A6 Allroad, to say that I wasn’t exactly filled with optimism would be a gross understatement.

 

However, upon actually spending a week with it, the pretend-rugged wagon not only managed to charm me but now I kind of want one. Dammit, Audi.

 

Surprisingly Good Looking

 

When the Audi A6 Allroad rolled up into my driveway, it was replacing an Audi SQ7, which I thought was a fantastic looking, very sporty SUV. So you’d imagine that a semi-frumpy wagon painted in the same color scheme as hospital equipment would disappoint. But it didn’t. The A6 Allroad is a very handsome, premium looking wagon that manages to charm, even with its plastic fender extensions. It helps that its starting point — the Audi A6 Avant — is a fabulous looking five-door.

 

Admittedly, it needs a better exterior color than the Vesuvius Gray which finished my tester. While it’s not an offensive color, it’s just very dull. And since the plastic body cladding of the Allroad is the automotive equivalent of wearing crocs, it can’t afford to look any duller. There are a few interesting colors in the A6 Allroad’s palette, so choose one of those instead.

 

There’s also a Black Optics package, which my test car did not have, that makes the car look far better. It brings five-spoke 20″ wheels, black trim, black roof rails, and just an overall sportier vibe that makes the Allroad looks far more youthful.

 

Lovely Cabin

 

There’s no complaining about the cabin, though. My test car’s Sarder Brown leather seats looked fabulous and the leather quality was through the roof. While I wish the seats were more supportive for sportier driving, they fit the car’s calm nature well and were comfortable over long journeys. Though, they had nothing on the incredible thrones in my previous SQ7.

 

Thankfully, my test car made up for that with wonderful dark walnut wood trim, which was absolutely gorgeous. I’m of the mind that only three main materials should exist in a luxury car; leather, wood, and metal. Carbon fiber is posh plastic and has no business being in the cabin of cars, yet is seemingly the only trim automakers use these days. So I was incredibly relieved to see the beautiful woodwork inside the A6 Allroad and it really classed the cabin up.

 

Outside of that, it was pretty standard Audi A6/A7 fare on the inside. Which is no bad thing, the interior of the Allroad is a lovely place to spend some time. But it wasn’t exactly interesting or exciting.

 

Good Tech, Bad Tech

 

By now, we’re used to Audi’s touchscreen MMI system and it works very well. While we’d still prefer more physical controls, as far as touchscreens go, the new MMI system is quite good. It’s responsive, easy to learn, and has a ton of interesting functionality.

 

Audi’s Virtual Cockpit is also a thing of beauty. It works so brilliantly; with its customization, crisp graphics, and colorful maps; that it’s hard to go back to any other brand’s setup.

 

However, the touchscreen climate controls are still infuriating. They’re too far down on the center console, meaning you must take your eyes off of the road for more time than is comfortable to make adjustments. Sure, you can adjust the temperature a bit with voice controls but you shouldn’t have to rely on them to change the temperature of the car. Thankfully, Audi seems to have switched to physical climate controls in the new e-tron GT and Q4 e-tron.

 

Comfy, Capable, Relaxing

 

More often than not, I test performance cars. In fact, that seems to be all I test, lately. That’s not a complaint, far from it, merely an observation. However, the calm, relaxing, and effortlessly comfortable Audi A6 Allroad was a nice change of pace. Its ride is buttery smooth and swallows up bumps with ease, even in its Dynamic setting. Its steering is light, calm, and precise, which allows you to effortlessly place the car where you want to go, without having to think too much about it. That does make it a bit numb and boring but that’s okay in a car as calm as the A6 Allroad.

 

I can see the A6 Allroad being a great daily commuter car. It’s the rolling equivalent of a your favorite comfy chair; it just sort of melts the stress of driving away.

 

The engine is nothing to get excited about, though. It’s the standard 3.0 liter turbocharged V6 we’ve come to know quite well and it’s fine. Not exciting, not bad, just fine. Its seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox does provide snappy shifts and it does keep the car in the right gear, all of the time, but it’s never really enjoyable to use in manual mode, mostly because of its relatively uninspired engine and handling. Still, it’s meant to be responsive but also comfortable and it manages that well.

 

When it comes to try and take some corners in the Audi A6 Allroad, I found that it’s more competent than it looks but was never encouraged to keep trying. It’s not designed to be a canyon carver and it’s not designed for fun. It’s designed to comfortably take five people and their lugged to where they want to go, in refined luxury. And it does that very well.

 

Shocking Practicality

 

This part is what frustrates me so much about the American market. U.S. buyers don’t like wagons because of the perception brought on them by old wood-panel wagons of the 1970s. However, wagon hating is nonsense because they provide the driving dynamics of a car with the practicality of an SUV. Some Americans think that a wagon’s practicality is only marginally more than a sedan’s and that it can’t match a proper SUV’s. However, those Americans are flat-out wrong.

It Makes a Treadmill Look Small in the Back…

 

Not only did the Audi A6 Allroad swallow up tons of luggage, as well as some moving boxes during my week with it. I also was able to fit an entire treadmill, without taking it apart, into the trunk with room to spare. Obviously, the rear seats were folded down, but the whole treadmill, folded in half as it does, was able to slide into the trunk of the Allroad without me dripping a single bead of sweat in the process. Its low load floor, adjustable air suspension, and wide trunk aperture made it a breeze to load large items.

 

I Kind of Want One

 

I would never buy an Audi A6 Allroad if it were my only car. I would need something a bit more engaging for that. However, if I knew I could also have a sports car on the side, the A6 Allroad would be a fantastic daily driver and one that I’d be happy to own. It’s a bit pricey, starting at $65,900 and easily getting into the $80,000 range, but it’s a ton of car for the money. It’s quick enough, extremely comfortable, very spacious, and still feels like a nice luxury car, rather than an SUV. I started out hating the A6 Allroad but, after spending a week with it, I’m convinced.






























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