- Available for £10,500
- 3.0 TDI V6 diesel, single or twin turbo, all wheel drive
- Tons better than the first C5 Allroad
- Stealthy performance in the BiTDI version
- Loads of room, practicality and quality
- Many were heavily specced at vast expense
Before we start, let's first of all say that we'll be giving the A6 Allroad a capital 'A' throughout this piece. Not because it has one. It doesn't. Officially it's an A6 allroad, but that looks daft halfway through a sentence so it'll be an Allroad from now on. Just so you know. Apologies to Audi (but not that many).
Audi launched the first A6 Allroad in 1999. Building on the strong foundation of all-wheel drive technology that the company had established in the 1980s, the Allroad should have been an easy win, but maybe a degree of complacency or something got in the way because things didn't quite go to plan. In the same way that the baddies in Scooby-Doo would have gotten away with it if it hadn't been for those pesky kids, the Allroad would have been a bigger success if (1) it hadn't been for the pesky problems it had with its air suspension, and (2) if that pesky lot over at BMW hadn't launched the X5 in the same year. By demonstrating that big SUVs really could be made to drive well, the X5 exposed the Allroad's failings in that department. The Audi's hoisted stance and stone-deflecting bodywork gave it a big and chunky look, which was good, but it also drove a bit like something that was big and chunky, which wasn't.
Today we're looking at the gen-three C7/4G Allroad which went on sale in the UK in early 2012. By that point in its career, the do-everything all-wheel drive market had long since been covered not just by Audi itself with its Q models (3, 5 and 7) but by just about every other manufacturer through one type of SUV or another. The 'posh estate on stilts' crossover space established by the Allroad had been ignored by all the other premium marques who were frantically concentrating all their efforts on SUVs. The Allroad had become something of a forgotten model, a status many unhappy owners of the gen-one cars were only too happy to embrace.
Fortunately, Audi never gave up on the original plan. In the thirteen years between 1999 and 2012 (via the gen-two C6 model of 2006) the Allroad was put through the usual careful process of improvement that you would expect from an outfit like Audi. The C7/4G still had air suspension and the extra ride height it needed to broaden its operational spectrum (reflected in an overall height gain of more than two inches) but its separateness from the rest of the range was subtly toned down. The vaguely Halfordsian look of the original Allroad was replaced by a more sophisticated high-end lifestyle approach backed by high amounts of high tech and an efficient, gutsy range of drivetrains.
Technically at least you could get your C7 Allroad with a 3.0 TFSI petrol engine, but its performance advantage over most of the diesels was marginal and certainly not enough to justify its inferior fuel consumption. You'll do well to find one in the UK now because hardly anybody bought one here. Instead they chose from a short range of 3.0-litre V6 diesel engines, which was no hardship as there were no duffers. The first two 3.0 TDI units had 201hp and 242hp, rising to 215hp and 268hp respectively in the Allroad's 2015MY refresh which also brought a new Sport trim level. All of these ran with the S tronic 7-speed twin clutch auto gearbox.
But there was another C7 Allroad (cue threatening Darth Vader style music and an ominous rumble): the biturbo 3.0 BiTDI. With its two staggered-size turbochargers, the smaller one handing over to the bigger one at 2,500rpm, this beastie came to the party with 309hp from 3,900-4,500rpm (raised to 315hp in the refresh) but more spectacularly it pumped out 479lb ft from a subterranean 1,400rpm, mandating the use of a stronger 8-speed Tiptronic torque converter automatic. It tramped through the 0-62 in the mid-fives and delivered a combined fuel consumption figure of 42mpg.
For information, the 0-62 times of the other four iterations of the 3.0 TDI were more than respectable, running between 7.5 secs in the 201hp and 6.2 secs in the 268hp, but the biturbo was the perfomance option. There was no reason to fit a sound actuator to the biturbo other than boyish fun but you'll be glad they did because it worked really well in this car. It's that car whose stats we've listed below.
Evolution brought extension. The gen-three Allroad added length just as the gen-two had. In C7 form it was almost six inches longer than a Range Rover Sport, three inches of its additional space vis-a-vis the C6 occuring between the axles. That was good news for rear seat passengers who also received a little extra head room. Despite its beefy size, the new model was up to 70kg lighter than its predecessor (depending on the model), thanks to Audi's growing use of aluminium. Audi's new 'hockey-stick' headlights, revised bumpers and big grille distinguished the C7 further from the gen-two C6.
In late 2019 the C7 Allroad was replaced by the fourth generation C8 version. This comes with two versions of the 3.0 litre TDI diesel engine, a 241hp 45 with 7-speed S tronic double-clutcher, or a 282hp 50 with the 8-speed Tiptronic. The biturbo diesel has gone, boo, with petrol making a comeback in the 335hp 55 TFSI, which also has the 8-speed Tiptronic box. Prices for these current-model Allroads range from £56,000 to £79,000. If that seems a lot, you can save yourself a potload of cash by buying the previous C7 model that we're discussing here. You could easily pay £30k or more for a late, low-miles C7 like this 8,000-mile 2018 example in white but you could just as easily find above-average mileage C7 Allroads in the classifieds for as little as £10,500. Sub-100,000 milers come in at around £13,000. For that sort of money you'll be nabbing a classy and highly capable piece of family transport.
SPECIFICATION - AUDI A6 ALLROAD 3.0 BiTDI (2012-2019)
Engine: 2,967cc V6 diesel 24v twin turbocharged
Transmission: 8-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Power (hp): 309@3,900-4,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 479@1,450-2,800rpm
0-62mph: 5.6 secs
Top speed: 155mph (limited)
MPG (official combined): 42.2
Wheels: 8 x 18in
On sale: 2013 - 2019
Price new: from £43,000 (£49,000 for 2015MY bi-turbo refresh)
Price now: from £13,000 (or £10,500 for single turbo models)
Note for reference: car weight and power data is hard to pin down with absolute certainty. For consistency, we use the same source for all our guides. We hope the data we use is right more often than it’s wrong. Our advice is to treat it as relative rather than definitive.
ENGINE & GEARBOX
Most C7 A6 buyers were more than happy with the basic 201hp 3.0-litre TDI which, despite pulling 1,930kg, breezed the Allroad through the 0-60mph in 7.2 seconds and took it on to nearly 140mph. The 242hp version needed just 6.6 secs for the 0-62. The official fuel consumption figures all began with a 4 but reaistically they were more likely to be in the mid 30s, still more than acceptable especially if you were fully savouring the rumbling performance of the biturbo.
The diesels were inherently reliable, but as you might expect they weren't foolproof. At least one car has had to have a faulty camshaft replaced at under 40,000 miles and there is a suggestion that there might have been more. As with any modern diesel you could find yourself with EGR valve, diesel particulate filter, glowplug, turbocharger or injector issues. You could also experience problems with oil and coolant leakage and worn timing chain tensioners, which in the 3.0 TDI would manifest itself as a cold start rattle. AdBlue injectors have been known to fail. That's a £500+ job.
Of course you might end up with none of these problems. Keeping the oil in good condition by changing it no later than every 10,000 miles (or ideally sooner) will be money well spent.
In normal driving the power split was 40/60 rear-biased. You didn't get a low-range transfer box but the combination of a mechanically locking centre diff and hill descent control was more than sufficient to look after the car on wobbly ground. Unlike the Multitronic CVT gearbox, the 7-speed S tronic DCT and 8-speed Tiptronic auto that were fitted to the C7 Allroads were generally reliable. Again, keeping the gearbox oil in good condition is a sound policy, changing it every 40,000 miles at the very least.
Electronics play a big part in a C7 A6 so if you're going to look at a car, download an owner's manual and try to check as many of its features as possible for correct function.
Unlike Volkswagen's Passat Alltrack or Skoda's Octavia Scout, which were essentially just higher-riding estate cars, the Allroad's ride height could be driver-adjusted to four different levels via the Drive Select system. That system gave you a fistful of modes. Allroad lifted the car by as much as 35mm, with another 10mm available through the 'Lift' feature creating a maximum car/ground gap of 185mm, or just over 7 inches – not as much clearance as the gen-one Allroad had, but Audi had found from its own research that real-world A6 owners really didn't need as much as that. If you were an atypical owner, there was a hefty stainless steel bash plate, 300mm of wading depth, a well-shaped underbody with regards to approach and departure angles, and you could keep an eye on how it was all going via the MMI screen.
Back on the tarmac, Efficiency mode focused the electronics on miserly running, Comfort was for easy motorway cruising, and Dynamic lowered the Audi to its bottom setting, stiffening up the suspension, sharpening up the shifts and throttle response, and adding weight to the steering. Individual let you mix/match the best bits of the other settings according to your preference. As usual with this sort of thing, once the novelty had worn off most owners would just leave it in Comfort or Auto and let the sensors judge the best mode for the situation. Auto would adapt to your driving style, automatically lowering the car for better fast cruising or, if you were pottering, giving you Comfort-like suspension quality. Efficiency or Auto would lower the car after a minute of so's driving at more than 120km/h (77mph). On leggier cars the rear airbags can start to leak and the air suspension can develop some creakiness. This is usually down to worn control arm bushes.
Stability on the road was impressive, and even when set up soft and/or high the Allroad cornered reasonably well thanks to the chassis-tidying effects of torque vectoring and adaptive suspension, this last feature helping to reduce the ride-spoiling effects of fitting 20in wheels. Stick with the smaller wheels for a good ride and you'll also benefit from somewhat cheaper tyre replacement costs.
Feedback through the electromechanical steering system was low, but it could be made to feel better if the first buyer had ticked the 'dynamic steering' option to add automatic speed-dependent adjustment of the steering action. With luck that first owner might have also ticked the 'sport differential' box to optimise torque distribution between the rear wheels for a livelier spring out of bends.
The steel brakes were strong but they could be 'squealy'. Whoever invented the electronic handbrake probably got a big pat on the back from their employer as it meant there was no longer any need to bung a big bit of bent metal between the seats. Whether they would get such a warm reception from the poor twits who have had to use them is another matter. The C7's has been known to play up.
The C7 Allroad is not a small car. You need to watch yourself when spiralling up and down a multi-storey car park. Both the paint and the rust protection have stood up well over time though. Any defects in this area (along with less than even panel gaps) might suggest crash repairs at some point. From new you could have the wheelarch extensions painted in the main body colour to streamline the car visually and permanently expunge that lingering Rover Streetwise vibe from your memory.
The locking and unlocking of the C7's fuel filler cap went haywire for some owners. The roof rails were made of aluminium and the tailgate was electronic. Some of the cars fitted with panoramic roofs experienced leaks.
Audi became a byword for interior quality back in the 20th century. The profit motive has come to the fore for every car manufacturer in the 21st century. Audi has not been immune to that influence, and there were some cheaper technical solutions in the C7, but most observers would conclude after a day in an Allroad that they had done a good job of resisting 'quality erosion'. It was first class travel in there.
Leather was standard and you had around ten aluminium or wood trims to choose from, which when new were priced at between £400 and £1,500. The screen directly ahead of the driver gave driving, media, compass and navigation data. Desirable options that used buyers won't have to pay much extra for in 2021 included a head up display, night vision assistant (which used a thermal imaging camera to spot objects ahead), adaptive cruise control, ventilating and massaging front seats and the unfeasibly swish Bang & Olufsen stereo with pop-up speakers which would have rushed you £6,300 from the dealer. The Sport trim level that came along in the 2015MY refresh added electronically adjustable front seats, LED front and rear lights, tinted rear glass, bigger alloy wheels and Valcona leather upholstery.
Compared to the gen-two car there was an extra 20mm of space between the C7's front seats. The rear cabin was designed for two adults, but three kids would manage fine in there. There's plenty of head and knee room even for taller bods, and with the right options fitted they got not only their own climate control zones but also heated seats. At 1,680 litres with the back seats down the Audi's boot was 80 litres bigger than a Volvo XC70's and the shape was usefully boxy. Seats up, it offered 20 litres more space than the gen-two Allroad. Smaller storage spaces up front were abundant and not so small either.
Audi's MMI infotainment system started off well and got better with each new iteration. There's a magician's hatful of tricks in there, but being able to operate most of those via the Allroad's steering wheel makes it considerably less daunting than you might expect as a new owner. For reverse parking the screen included a neat bird's eye car graphic alongside the normal camera view. There have been issues with C7 screens not popping out of the dash, or not going back in.
After an uncertain start, the Allroad has been gradually coming back into its own as a smart choice for those who want SUV-like versatility without the SUV-like driving experience. In the C7 you got the class, quality, comfort and refinement of a big, modern Audi estate combined with the occasionally useful attribute of adjustable air suspension, which was a paragon of reliability compared to the C5's troublesome arrangement.
In the showroom the C7 Allroad was significantly undercut on price by the less well-specced and arguably less posh Volvo XC70. That moved the Audi out of most buyers' crosshairs, but in today's used market you can get a gen-three Allroad for not much more than the £10k price difference that existed between those two cars when they were new – an attractive prospect to be sure.
Visually at least, the C7 Allroad is much more of a road car than the first C5 model appeared to be, but that's a false perception. Have a squint at these geezers effortlessly churning through deep snow in a C7, and indeed a C6 Allroad. Or this dude drifting his growly bi-turbo. All we're saying is, don't make the mistake of thinking that a C7 Allroad won't get where you want it to go just because it doesn't look like it will.
What's out there to buy? At the affordable end of the PH Classifieds range here's a fully-historied one-owner 120,000-mile 2013 car in black with black leather for £10,995. Privately owned Allroads can offer good savings over dealer stock as long as you don't mind not having the usual safeguards or doing your own valet work. This midnight blue 73,000-mile 2014 Allroad with a towbar and a full service history is £13,800. A biturbo will provide plenty of laughs for your money, especially if it's under £15,000 like this 308hp car from 2014. It's done 120,000 miles but the novelty of the Clydesdale horse torque should be good for a few more miles yet.
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