RE: Legacy | Audi Allroad 4.2 meets A6 Allroad 45

RE: Legacy | Audi Allroad 4.2 meets A6 Allroad 45

Thursday 19th March

Legacy | Audi Allroad 4.2 meets A6 Allroad 45

The Audi Allroad has been a constant for 20 years. Here's why...



It's funny, really. All thought of Audi heritage lead to Quattro, and how four driven wheels revolutionised international rallying 40 years ago, then road cars not long after. Which arguably makes Audi's contemporary SUV line-up easier to swallow than those of rival manufacturers; from Q2 all the way up to Q8 through 3, 5, and 7 on the way (and don't forget the Sportbacks), the manufacturer has harnessed its expertise to offer the buying public every possible sports utility vehicle variation they could possibly want. And probably a few they don't.

But it wasn't always that way. At the tail end of the 1990s, Mercedes-Benz had embraced the luxury, ever-so-slightly sporty 4x4 in the M-Class (the 55 AMG version is 20 years old this year). BMW followed soon after with the X5. Over the past two decades and through an assortment of generations, those cars have sold millions, validating the business case if nothing else. And where was Audi, the four-wheel-drive master? Making the Allroad. Which, reading it back, sounds demeaning. But that couldn't be further from the truth, because this, not the SUV, is the trend that should have caught on.

The Allroad quattro - note there isn't an A6 badge to be seen - was previewed in a 1998 Detroit concept, then introduced to the UK market in the summer of 2000 to mark 20 years of Quattro. Initially with a 2.5-litre diesel or 2.7-litre twin-turbocharged V6 (and even a low-range gearbox option!), the Allroad quattro was, according to Audi, "the best compromise yet between the comfort and refinement of a family estate car and the versatility and all-terrain capability of a serious off-roader." Quite a blend of talents to target. To achieve that it boasted a four-stage self-levelling air suspension system, with ride height sensors to vary the ground clearance between 142mm and 208mm - with manual override possible as well. Otherwise it was as you were for an A6 inside, which was as pleasant and passable a proposition at the turn of the century as it is now.



The V8 arrived in 2003, an "advanced new petrol engine" boasting five valves per cylinder, a 5kg weight reduction over the unit used in the S6 and an "unmistakeable V8 engine note". The headline stats were punchy: 300hp, 280lb ft, 7.2 seconds to 62mph and 149mph. There was also the small matter of 27mpg (extra-urban!) and 331g/km - but nobody really cared about that in 2003, did they?

So that's a wee bit of Allroad context; now to the point. What is it that's lured people to the genre over the past 20 years? Well, one could argue quite convincingly it's a combination of a rugged aesthetic, aspirational lifestyle marketing, a premium billing, a modicum of off-road ability and yet, broadly speaking, the sort of dimensions and driveability that remain manageable. Nobody wants an actual off-roader, now, do they? Heaven forbid. Much too cumbersome.

The Allroad conforms to all those criteria. The seat even raises up really high as well. It's just an A6 Avant, yet one equipped with sufficient off-road ability that if, say, your cricket club is at the top of a craggy, potted track (we're looking at you, Coldharbour), there's no need to worry. It's the confidence that the Allroad treatment gives, the ability to raise the ride height and feel assured in what it can do, that makes it such a clever idea; especially so because there's little sense of the flat-footed handling, either, that can come with larger 4x4s.



The original Allroad seen here is a 16-year-old car with 120,000 miles on it; clearly it's not one to test and critique like something fresher. Especially so given the Allroad's well documented issues. But it lapped up everything required of it in a cold, wet, miserable day on the byways of Surrey. An Allroad most likely never tackles much more challenging than a cul-de-sac kerb, but a test day of torrential rain meant it faced a lot: sludgy, boggy inclines, branches strewn everywhere, routes craggy and awkward already because of roots, rocks and holes made super slippery. It was difficult to walk on, given the inclines, surface and water, even if it doesn't look it from the pics. Never at any point did the old car feel overawed, nor the new car even remotely bothered by the situation: raised ride heights meant the vital bits were protected, and to be honest the traction was never really called into question either. They just got on with where we needed them to go, without squeak, groan, or complaint, looking for all the world like two lost A6 Avants but in reality searching for more of a challenge in the forest.

Now, obviously, this wasn't exactly Camel Trophy levels of exploration - it would have been a surprise if they hadn't made it, as well as extremely embarrassing. Crucially, however, it was sufficient to prove that the Allroad estates can cope off-road, at least to the level they or rivals would be required to. People buying Defenders and Land Cruisers would naturally expect more, but those looking at Touaregs, X5s and XC90s? This has to be more than enough. That's always been the clever thing with Allroads; while ostensibly A6 Avants (whether badged that way or not) they can deliver beyond expectations when required. Need an off-roader? Buy an off-roader. But up until the point an Allroad will see you right. Then back on road they're near-as-dammit regular A6s (even if that does means aloof and a touch ponderous sometimes) - a neat trick.

Because that V8 engine was twin-turbocharged for the original RS6, then reworked and renewed for use in the R8 and B7 RS4, it's pretty cool to have it rumbling along in an old Avant. Even paired with a five-speed automatic that surely wasn't the swiftest when new, there's no denying the potency of the 4.2. The joy of a muted V8 woofle should never be underestimated, either; the noise satisfying in a way that subsequent, synthesised V8s seldom have been. Useful to remember that joy when filling up again, too...



Furthermore, while the diesel A6 Allroad of 2020 can't deliver the same sort of emotional pull as a big V8, it does deliver the same finely-judged, desirable array of talents. And doesn't emit half a kilo of CO2 per mile. By and large it's a capable, cossetting, tech laden and effortless A6 Avant. Only when the situation dictates does it show off its Allroad credentials; contemporary reports of the original Allroad suggested it felt noticeably less wieldy than its Avant base, but that's been addressed here. Obviously it's no great driver's car, but the Allroad pays little penalty for its fair 4x4 ability. With a far smarter gearbox and enormous torque reserves from the twin-turbo diesel, the latest iteration is miles quicker than the old V8, even if the style of the performance - relying on the low-rev muscle, never feeling to exert itself too much - remains the same.

It's hard to see, honestly, why the Allroad format hasn't caught on. Credit should go to Audi for extending and continuing the model range; there's an E-Class All Terrain currently as well, though precious little else. Bizarrely it seems that the Allroad look has been more successful at a lower price point, with everything from a Ford Fiesta Active to a Honda Jazz Crosstar available for those who need a tougher ride height... in front-wheel drive superminis. Fashion never did make much sense.

For those that aren't too bothered about trends, the Allroad remains a hugely likeable and adept package. If anything, as we demand more from our cars now than ever, its breadth and depth of talent is more impressive than at any point in the past 20 years. Because what more, really, do you need a car to do? So while the rest of the world continues flocking to SUVs, it's nice to know that there's still an option for anyone willing to think a tiny bit differently. And for the truly brave, an Allroad with a great big V8 remains quite the way to travel - on road or off it.


SPECIFICATION | 2004 AUDI ALLROAD 4.2
Engine:
4,172cc, V8
Transmission: 5-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
Power (hp): 300@6,200rpm
Torque (lb ft): 280@2,700rpm
0-62mph: 7.2 seconds
Top speed: 149mph
Weight: 1,860kg
CO2: 331g/km
MPG: 27.7 (extra urban)
Price: Β£41,255 (2004), from Β£6,000 today

SPECIFICATION | 2020 AUDI A6 ALLROAD 45 TDI
Engine: 2,967cc, V6 turbodiesel
Transmission: 8-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
Power (hp): 231@3,250-4,700rpm
Torque (lb ft): 369@1,750-3,250rpm
0-62mph: 6.7 seconds
Top speed: 155mph
Weight: 2,020kg (with driver)
CO2: 153g/km
MPG: 37.7
Price: from Β£54,555 (45 TDI Sport)

Photos: Dafydd Wood

















Author
Discussion

virgilio

Original Poster:

222 posts

103 months

Wednesday 18th March
quotequote all
I really like the format. Normal cars are indeed too low for normal use on normal non motorway roads. But SUVs not used for offroading are Freudian Symbols of Sadness, so these give a reasonable compromise (at least for where I live).

defblade

5,845 posts

171 months

Wednesday 18th March
quotequote all
My disappointment when I saw the title, saw a couple of mild off-road estates, and then realised there was no Legacy or Outback actually in the article...

Turini

92 posts

124 months

Wednesday 18th March
quotequote all
A format that hasn’t caught on. I suppose that overlooks the numerous Skoda 4x4 Scout estate models, the Volvo Cross Country ranges of the V70 and V90, Passat Alltrack (always thought that name was cunningly all but identical to the Allroad), Peugeot RXH, Subaru Outback & Forrester.... and that’s before I’ve had a morning coffee.
We had an Allroad as a ‘do it all’ car, loud clattery diesel, impending air suspension financial write off - Arnott air bags from the US the best replacement for Audi ones - and hugely enjoyable and capable offroad if you didn’t worry getting your mate with a Discovery to pull you out when you overdid it...

Gitwhoismiserable

767 posts

81 months

Wednesday 18th March
quotequote all
Q version for me

cerb4.5lee

16,476 posts

138 months

Wednesday 18th March
quotequote all
I can't believe its 20 years since these first came out. It feels like yesterday to me and I've always liked these, they seemed like a nice change(something new) at the time I thought.

XIII

4,592 posts

56 months

Wednesday 18th March
quotequote all
The original Allroad was an absolute pig of a car.

On the surface you'd think it was perfect, a nicely made, decent looking, quality offroad estate.

In reality, everything deteriorated; suspension, gearbox, engine (in particular the 2.7TT).

I had one in the trade and no amount of discounting to bidders could shift it, its not a car youd want to retail for the reasons above..

Oh , and what the fk is going on with that A6 grille? From a distance it looks like when you lose a stick on number plate and some residue is left on it.

RicksAlfas

10,513 posts

202 months

Wednesday 18th March
quotequote all
Turini said:
A format that hasn’t caught on. I suppose that overlooks the numerous Skoda 4x4 Scout estate models, the Volvo Cross Country ranges of the V70 and V90, Passat Alltrack (always thought that name was cunningly all but identical to the Allroad), Peugeot RXH, Subaru Outback & Forrester.... and that’s before I’ve had a morning coffee.
Yes, it's a popular format around where I live (West Yorkshire). I really like the Merc E-Class All Terrain, but I don't think I've ever seen one in the wild!


Vee12V

966 posts

118 months

Wednesday 18th March
quotequote all
"Credit should go to Audi for extending and continuing the model range; there's an E-Class All Terrain currently as well, though precious little else."

You clearly forgot about the V90 Cross Country.

shalmaneser

4,349 posts

153 months

Wednesday 18th March
quotequote all


This couldn't be any more early noughties.

Green leather audi interior with wood. Nice.

GravelBen

14,215 posts

188 months

Wednesday 18th March
quotequote all
defblade said:
My disappointment when I saw the title, saw a couple of mild off-road estates, and then realised there was no Legacy or Outback actually in the article...
hehe

Just a more luxurious but less dependable copy!

LayZ

1,398 posts

200 months

Wednesday 18th March
quotequote all
C5 chassis one looks better imo. That was a really original design. The interior on the new one of course blows it out of the water, but it isn't green, so loses points there obviously.

V8 one that works must be seriously rare now. Most of these sold with the 2.5 TDI (unreliable) and autobox (unreliable) and air suspension (unreliable) so can't see there being many left.

Fastchas

2,027 posts

79 months

Wednesday 18th March
quotequote all
is it a myth that the Allroad transmission ties itself up in knots if the tyres aren't changed at the same time cos of the rolling circumference? Or something.

cobraBLACK

19 posts

43 months

Wednesday 18th March
quotequote all
For anyone getting excited about the RS4 and R8 references, the 40v V8 has nothing to do with them. It's basically a detuned B6 S4 engine. Apparently they can be mapped to match the power of the S4 though.

tiredoldm3

11 posts

93 months

Wednesday 18th March
quotequote all
A6 Allroad is such a classy understated car. Always driven by the horsey set. Drivers are typically minted but dont want to shout about it. You can lease an A6 estate for £260 a month...an A6 Allroad is more like £500 a month.

Maldini35

2,531 posts

146 months

Wednesday 18th March
quotequote all
I had one as a company car a few years ago.
It was great. In fact it was brilliant for daily duties.
That said, I couldn’t put my own money in one given the large bork factor.


legless

1,126 posts

98 months

Wednesday 18th March
quotequote all
tiredoldm3 said:
A6 Allroad is such a classy understated car. Always driven by the horsey set. Drivers are typically minted but dont want to shout about it. You can lease an A6 estate for £260 a month...an A6 Allroad is more like £500 a month.
More than one person at Audi HQ has told me in the past that the A6 Allroad customers have a higher average net worth than the customers of any of their other models, including the R8 and RS models.

Pommy

11,102 posts

174 months

Wednesday 18th March
quotequote all
legless said:
tiredoldm3 said:
A6 Allroad is such a classy understated car. Always driven by the horsey set. Drivers are typically minted but dont want to shout about it. You can lease an A6 estate for £260 a month...an A6 Allroad is more like £500 a month.
More than one person at Audi HQ has told me in the past that the A6 Allroad customers have a higher average net worth than the customers of any of their other models, including the R8 and RS models.
Not by the time theyve finished paying to keep the bd thing running hehe

LetsTryAgain

1,690 posts

31 months

Wednesday 18th March
quotequote all
XIII said:
The original Allroad was an absolute pig of a car.

On the surface you'd think it was perfect, a nicely made, decent looking, quality offroad estate.

In reality, everything deteriorated; suspension, gearbox, engine (in particular the 2.7TT).

I had one in the trade and no amount of discounting to bidders could shift it, its not a car youd want to retail for the reasons above..

Oh , and what the fk is going on with that A6 grille? From a distance it looks like when you lose a stick on number plate and some residue is left on it.
Couldn’t agree more.
I had a 2.7TT Allroad and it was the biggest pile of rubbish I’ve ever owned.

Genuinely dreadful car.

Edited by LetsTryAgain on Wednesday 18th March 11:35

bqf

1,878 posts

129 months

Wednesday 18th March
quotequote all
I had an Allroad on a '53 plate. 2.5 TDi, with a manual.

Needed a new air compressor (£300) fitted, and regular servicing, but it did 40,000 miles over 4 years, and cost me £3,250 to buy.

I should've changed the turbo, as it started whistling 6 months before it finally went bang in a big cloud of smoke, totalling it beyond repair.

Cheap, comfy, mutli-purpose motoring for £1,000/year depreciation though. Loved that car.

klunk0

8 posts

41 months

Wednesday 18th March
quotequote all
Had a 2004. Binned it 2013.
Noisy engine. Boat wallow air springs. Nice format. Wife's car. Her all time favourite.

Huge bork factor chasing the pipes/bags/pumps

In the end the local VAG repair indy begged me not to bring it back again. As the original version strip down wasn't great.
So get it working for a day (faults often intermittent) let them drive it and trade it into the trade for something with steel springs.

Never again.