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Audi A6 2006 review

Meet the newest addition to the A6 family, the A6 Allroad. We put it to the test on and off the tarmac

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

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The talented Allroad is a very impressive performer, combining all the refinement and practicality of the A6 Avant with improved off-road ability. Few owners are likely to venture far from the tarmac, but plenty will pay the £2,280 premium the new car commands over a standard A6 for the extra individuality it provides.

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As with its predecessor, the A6 Allroad is closely related to the A6 Avant - but with a proper SUV now available further up the range, how does the fresh-faced crossover stack up? We sampled the flagship diesel to find out.

As before, the tall-riding Allroad boasts contrasting flared wheelarches and extended side sills. Yet despite the addition of stainless steel underbody protection, unique bumpers at the front and rear and the firm's latest corporate grille, the car doesn't have the same purposeful stance of the original.

You can choose to have the contrasting trim body-coloured, but doing this only lessens the impact of the visual changes. And looks are what this car is all about, because Audi expects only two per cent of owners to take their Allroad into the rough stuff.

On tarmac is where the newcomer needs to excel, and with the A6 Avant as a basis, it's an accomplished performer. The 3.0 TDI diesel is an impressive engine and, with 230bhp and 450Nm of torque, performance is brisk.

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Refinement is also top class, and the Allroad makes a great long-distance cruiser. The standard height-adjustable air-suspension has five modes, and does a fine job in soaking up bumps on the road surface. Predictably, the 'comfort' setting provides the most cosseting ride, while 'dynamic' mode sharpens up the handling, reducing body roll in bends.

Numb but precise steering and powerful brakes complete the package, giving an on-road driving experience that's more car-like than SUV.

Off tarmac, despite the absence of a low-range gearbox option, your own enthusiasm and the machine's ground clearance are the biggest barriers. The permanent quattro four-wheel drive ensures great traction, while there's an automatic self-locking centre differential for when the going gets tough.

Steep downhill tracks can also be tackled with confidence thanks to an electronic hill descent function, and the ESP even boasts an off-road setting. For genuine mud-pluggers, there's the option of fitting all-terrain tyres.

The new Allroad hits UK showrooms in June, with only two engines initially available in the form of the 2.7 and 3.0-litre TDI diesels - the 180bhp 2.7 TDI is priced from £33,530. The 3.2 FSI and 4.2 FSI petrols follow in January. If you're looking for an SUV, but don't want to shout about it, the oil-burners in particular are credible alternatives.

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