2012 Audi A6 Allroad Quattro biturbo diesel
Engine3.0L Biturbo Diesel V6
Power313 HP / 480 LB-FT
0-60 Time5.6 Seconds
Top Speed155 MPH
Curb Weight4,380 LBS
Cargo20.0 / 59.3 CU-FT
MPG35 MPG (est.)
As an American living in Italy, there are often entire month-long stretches where I drive nothing but European cars that will sadly never come out to play on American soil. Such is the case for the abundantly adored Audi A6 Allroad Quattro seen here. I was initially of the assumption that since the A4 Allroad had already been confirmed for the U.S. that the A6 Allroad would be coming as well, but I am dismayed to report otherwise.
Such a pity, too. The business case for giving North America the whole range of Audi models that Germany offers apparently just doesn't pan out financially – and for some of us, it's the old predictable story of unrequited love across the chilly Atlantic.
Team Ingolstadt brought me into their home in Neckarsulm just north of hilly Stuttgart for this drive through the area's precisely cultivated fields of hops. The aroma of beer is everywhere here, which may go some way toward explaining just why the new A6 Allroad felt so good under and around me as we freight-trained along the Swabian two-lanes.
On hand, a trio of engines: the 241-horsepower 3.0 TDI V6 with 428 pound-feet of torque and seven-speed S tronic, 306-hp supercharged 3.0 TFSI V6 with 325 lb-ft of torque and S tronic, and all-new biturbo 3.0 biTDI V6 with 313 hp and a cranking 480 lb-ft of torque paired with an eight-speed Tiptronic. I felt obliged to try out the TFSI gas-powered A6 Allroad that in theory would be the most likely candidate for U.S. importation, and sure enough, it was solid work over Germany's postcard roads. Even so, my mind was on my appointment with the mighty biturbo diesel the entire time.
With the A6 Allroad in the TFSI engine trim costing 12-percent more than a similarly equipped sedan in Germany, a U.S. price would most likely follow suit and hover dangerously near $57,000 after destination charges. As for the raucous biturbo diesel, we'd be staring at around $62k.
All testers came fully optioned, too, of course, so those added accessories would jack the price up nicely. Standard wheel size is 18 inches on these husky taskmasters, but my cars for the day were fitted with optional 19-inch treads – the 3.0 biTDI sporting 255/45 Pirelli P Zeros (20s are available, too). Most of the driving was over those idyllic sun-drenched roads of beer, but I escaped to some no-limit autobahn as well, plus I had to find some grassy dirt two-track through a pretty field or two to see how this bigger Allroad behaved in its truest theoretical element.
I'm a supporter of the seven-speed S tronic transmission, certainly versus Audi's clunky R tronic, and this setup proved itself highly capable once again, wonderfully flexible in every condition mated to the supercharged TFSI V6. Germany gives this particular A6 Allroad a curb weight of 4,255 pounds, and the standard air suspension with Audi Drive Select chassis calibrations did a good job of reining in the mass even as I let loose. If nothing else, Audi has learned how to deal with Quattro's weightiness and the neutral handling seen on nearly all of its hefty cars. In these Allroad models, one comes to expect the thick and somewhat numb steering feel, but the emphasis on comfort is certainly well executed.
To emphasize the Allroad's ruggedness, Audi has thoughtfully added both Tilt Angle Display and Hill Descent Control functions to its Multi Media Interface (MMI). The former is a cool tool while softroading for monitoring the sideways incline and fore-aft inclines you're putting your family through while on the way to grandma's house. It gives a graphic display that I found very helpful in a couple of tight spots along the way. And while you may think it's a caving-in to the almighty Apple, the new pair of iPad holders that slip into the backside of the front seats are a first and they are a brilliant touch. Here they cost roughly $200, and I would expect to see them offered in the U.S. very soon on various models from Audi and others.
But I digress from the Holy Grail of my journey: the A6 Allroad with 3.0 biTDI and eight-speed Tiptronic. Whoa, this horse goes. It can get to 62 mph in a stated and conservative 5.6 seconds versus the TFSI's 5.9 seconds, and top speed is predictably governed at 155 mph. Curb weight rises to 4,380 pounds, but the V37 engine's potent and progressive biturbo setup makes all action between 1,450 and 4,500 rpm terrifically nimble. As the torque wave that gets everything going under hard acceleration starts to fall off at 2,800 rpm, the power curve takes over as it rises steeply up to 313 hp from 3,900 to 4,500 rpm. The redline is pegged at 5,100 revs and the sound that comes from the optional sport exhaust when all things in ADS are set to Dynamic is brilliantly un-diesel.
The biturbo strategy here with the V37 works thus: Under easier throttle loads, the smaller GT17 Garrett turbocharger works up until the engine reaches 3,600 rpm, while the larger GT30 unit (which never really stops circulating completely) chimes in at 3,000 rpm. From 1,200 rpm under any load, the small-volume GT17 is at its maximum boost pressure of 31.9 psi. When the accelerator demands full power, however, both the GT17 and GT30 work together up to 3,000 rpm for maximum boost, at which point the stressed GT17 bows out and all forced induction bypasses to the lower-pressure but higher-throughput GT30. From behind the wheel, the feeling is that the urge to thrust forward never pauses, not even for a moment. It's incredibly addictive, especially when the fuel needle moves downward so slowly. Estimated U.S. gallon averages linger around 35 mpg, which is pretty hot stuff for something this versatile and powerful.
This Ingolstadt wagon still leads the herd with a roof weight capacity of 220 pounds, while towing weight on this biturbo TDI reaches 5,500 pounds and cargo space ranges from 20.0 cubic feet on up to 59.3 cu ft. It's easy to imagine the full-family, four-season road trips.
Sadly, Audi has seen fit to deny North America the glory of driving an A6-based Avant model. We'll have to content ourselves with the A4 wagon and Allroad as the only load-lugging offerings from Ingolstadt for the foreseeable future. Maybe if people buy the smaller softroader in sufficient numbers, Audi will be able to screw together a business case for the wonderful A6 Allroad as well. Open your checkbooks, voters.
UPDATE: Horsepower figures for the 3.0L biturbo diesel V6 were stated incorrectly as 420 hp and have been changed to the correct figure of 313 hp.
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