Audi A6 allroad (2012-2019)

Models Covered:

5dr Estate (3.0 TFSI petrol, 3.0 TDI diesel) / 3.0 BiTDI)

By Jonathan Crouch

* Introduction

It's hard to think of a better 'one car fits all' solution than Audi's A6 allroad quattro, which in 2012 became much more sophisticated in the third generation ‘C7’-series guise we look at here. It's presentable in any situation and as at home in the city as it is blasting across continents or slogging its way along dirt tracks.

The History

Back in the year 2000 as the world struggled with the Millenium Bug, German prestige brand Audi was struggling with a lack of foresight. Having virtually pioneered four wheel drive in ordinary road cars with their clever quattro system, they’d failed to foresee just how popular it would prove to be in big, chunky SUVs.

The allroad was an Audi A6 Avant estate with clever air suspension for limited off road ability and a little more styling attitude. A simple enough idea you might think, except that at the time of this brilliantly executed model’s launch, no one else had thought of it. This concept was continued with a second generation model in 2006 and further evolved with the MK3 version we look at here, launched in the Spring of 2012. This A6 allroad remained a largely unique proposition, not properly copied by Mercedes or BMW until well in this ‘C7’ design’s production run.

Of course, the market has long offered slightly smaller SUV-style all-wheel drive estates than this: Subaru has been doing it for years and Audi launched its own A4 allroad model in 2009. But these models basically offer nothing more than plastic body cladding and a marginally higher ride height, this A6 allroad does the job properly, with an air suspension system able to raise the car height enough to give it real off road ability.

In third generation guise the recipe was further refined, with a more powerful range of more efficient 3.0-litre V6 engines and enough high technology to satisfy the most committed technophobe. The original 204 and 245PS versions of the 3.0 TDI engine were updated respectively to 215 and 268PS by 2014. This ‘C7’-series A6 allroad model sold until late 2019, when it was replaced by a new fourth generation ‘C8’-series version.

What You Get

This A6 allroad sits 60mm higher than an ordinary ‘C7’-series A6 Avant, but that of course isn’t the only difference. The chrome effect grille is the first thing you’ll notice. Then there are contrasting wheel arch extensions. A stainless steel underbody guard overlaps into revised front and rear bumpers and there are aluminium roof rails. The more important stuff though, is under the skin where use of aluminium for up to 20% of the body weight enabled this generation allroad to shed as much as 70kgs over the previous model.

This MK3 model was lighter then, even if it was larger – and the extra size is something you’ll appreciate jumping into the rear. Much of this design’s additional 72mm of wheelbase was used for the benefit of back seat passengers who as a result enjoyed an extra 7mm more of head room. It’s still a bench primary shaped for two adults, though three children will be quite comfortable. Behind lies a capacious 565-litre luggage bay that was 20-litres bigger than that of the previous model. Should more space be needed, you can flip the rear seats down to access up to 1,680-litres.

Up front, the seats are 20mm further apart than they were in the previous generation version: it's much as you'd find in a conventional A6 Avant – which is certainly no bad thing. The build quality is typically impeccable. Most of the minor controls are gathered on and around the steering wheel and it's all surprisingly easy to use given the complexity of this car's systems. The MMI infotainment system improves in its user friendliness with each generation and features a pop-up screen.

What To Look For

It’s very unlikely that this A6 allroad will have been seriously used off road, but check underneath just in case. This ‘C7’-series A6 generally has a good reputation for build quality and reliability, but there are a few things you'll need to look out for. We've heard reports that the electronic handbrake can sometimes get stuck. The infotainment screen that should power smoothly out of the dash top on start-up can sometimes get stuck too, so check that. On a few 3.0 TDI models, you might notice an engine rattle; faulty chain sensors are the cause, an issue solved when Audi introduced new chain sensors for this engine in 2016. If you're looking at a 2014 or 2015-era A6 3.0 TDI and it has the rattle, then this can apparently be solved by the fitment of these revised chain sensors, something your dealer can arrange: ask if it's been done.

On The Road

Air suspension. That’s what an A6 allroad is all about. That’s what differentiates it from an ordinary A6 Avant. The air suspension settings can be controlled via the Audi drive select system and can be switched between five different on road modes, according to your driving situation.

Under the bonnet, there’s all the choice you could want - providing that’s a 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 of some kind. The A6 allroad offers a choice of four such units, the least relevant of the quartet being the 310PS TFSI petrol engine that virtually all original UK customers elbowed aside in favour of a diesel. Most were tempted by the entry-level 204PS 3.0-litre TDI that manages 60mph in 7.2 seconds and will knock on the door of 140mph where conditions allow. This was later updated to 215PS. Next up is the mid-range 245PS version of this engine, which steps the torque up from 450 to 580Nm, drops the 60 sprint time to 6.6 seconds and tops out at 145mph. This mid-range unit was later updated to 268PS. The range-topping engine was a 3.0 BiTDI variant with 313PS which generated so much torque - 650Nm from just 1,450rpm - that Audi had to fit a sturdier 8-speed automatic gearbox to cope.


A6 allroad buyers are apparently the most affluent of any of Audi’s customers, so it makes sense perhaps that they’re also amongst the cleverest, amongst the few choosing a car with four-wheel drive for what they actually need it to do, rather than buying into vague perceptions of safety and social standing. If you want the occasional benefits of better ground clearance and off road traction without the usual clunky dynamic downsides. If you can do without the image, expense and bulk of a fully-fledged SUV. And if, in summary, you want to make a sensible lifestyle statement, then we can’t think of a better way to do it.