Audi Q7 2020 review
The Audi Q7 will easily swallow seven family members comfortably, even on long road trips. Does it have what it takes to beat the competition?
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The Subaru Outback has a lot to answer for. Way back in 1994 the Japanese brand created the high-riding wagon scene - and while the idea never really took off with most mainstream makers, European luxury brands seemingly loved the idea of a rugged estate. It’s another niche to fill, after all.
There has been evolution in the Audi Allroad line-up over time: in 2015 the company added the smaller A4 Allroad, while the original larger A6-based Allroad wagon continues to cop the rough-and-tumble treatment, as it has for decades now.
So, since the all-new Audi A6 Allroad has just arrived in Australia, we thought we’d see what it’s like. And perhaps more pertinently, maybe we’ll be able to answer the question that many of you probably have: Should you buy a high-riding wagon? Or is it smarter to just buy an SUV?
|Audi A6 2020: Allroad Quattro 45 TDI|
|Engine Type||3.0L turbo|
Before we consider what else you could buy, let’s consider what the situation is for the A6 Allroad.
It comes as just one variant in Australia, the 45 TDI, which is priced from $109,500 plus on-road costs (MSRP/RRP). It might not seem affordable, but Audi Australia claims there’s an additional $15,000 of extra value over the previous version of the A6 Allroad, which listed at $114,700.
So what gear do you get for your money?
The standard equipment list is extensive, and includes adaptive air suspension, Matrix LED headlights, 20-inch Audi Sport alloy wheels, LED puddle lights, a hands-free power-operated tailgate and dynamic LED tail-lights.
Inside, you get dual touchscreens (10.1-inch for media and 8.6-inch for climate and car controls), satellite navigation with Audi Connect online data, Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay support, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, a head-up display, wireless smartphone charger, four USB ports, three-zone climate control, front sports seats with heating, extended Valcona leather upholstery and stainless-steel pedals feature.
As you may expect of a luxury family-focused car there’s a raft of advanced safety tech fitted as standard, too - read the safety section below for more detail.
Our particular test vehicle had metallic paint (Gavial Green metallic, which looks amazing but costs as much as painting an apartment, at $2200), and the interior was treated to manual rear sunblinds ($450) and black cloth headlining ($750).
The car also had the $8900 Premium Plus package, with HD Matrix LED headlights, 21-inch alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, a Bang & Olufsen 3D sound system, dual sunroof (front opening, rear glass roof), four-zone climate control and LED ambient lighting. Lovely. But expensive.
If you’re wondering about colours, only Brilliant Black is a no cost option. The optional metallic paint finishes are: Glacier White, Floret Silver, Vesuvius Grey, Mythos Black, Gavial Green (seen here), Firmament Blue, Diamond Beige, Seville Red, Soho Brown, Typhoon Grey and Avalon Green. All the metallic options add $2200 to the price.
Rivals for this type of high-riding wagon include the attractive and attractively priced Volvo V90 Cross Country (from $80,990), the Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain ($115,500) or, ahem, the Subaru Outback (from $37,440).
Thinking outside the box-y wagon, you could consider the slightly smaller Audi Q5 (from $66,900) or the seven-seat Audi Q7 (from $101,900). And I can totally understand why the latter is a better choice for many buyers out there. But it’s just not a wagon, right?
If this isn’t the best looking genre of car, I must have been blindfolded since birth. You might think differently - be sure to let me know in the comments section below.
But for me, I just love the idea of a station wagon that is beefed up with SUV styling cues, and the Audi Allroad formula has been en pointe for generations now. This latest A6 Allroad doesn’t disappoint, either, with all the elements you’d expect.
Things like the bulging contrasting wheel-arch liners, the rugged underbody protection bash plates, and even the silver roof rails and silver metallic side sill protectors with ‘quattro’ emblazoned upon them - it just all works.
And being an Audi A6 wagon underneath the glittery bits, it’s a sizeable vehicle. The dimensions read like so: length - 4951mm; wheelbase - 2925mm; width - 1902mm; height - 1458mm, though that depends on the height of the air suspension.
The A6 Allroad sits about 45 millimetres higher than the standard A6 Avant wagon (not sold in Australia). And the ground clearance also varies depending on the air suspension height setting, but it is officially recorded at 139mm - which isn’t very high at all, but that’s for the regular driving setup. In its raised height, that jumps by 45mm to 184mm. Nowhere near an off-road Toyota, but still high enough to stop the belly from scraping.
And there are other hardware bits to help you out if the going gets tough - out of sight is Audi’s ‘quattro’ all-wheel drive system with a self-locking centre differential that the brand says provides “superior traction and its high level of safety and agile handling”. There is hill descent control, and the infotainment screen can display the location, elevation, compass and driving angles, too.
As for the design of the interior? It’s high-tech Audi opulence and comfort at its best. Check out the interior pictures to see what I mean.
Technical. Practical. Glorious. Three words I’d use to describe the cabin of the Audi A6 Allroad.
The cockpit isn’t anything out of the ordinary for an Audi of the modern era, and as such it will feel familiar to you if you’ve been in or around any of its more recent stablemates. It also means that you’ll find yourself in a high-end, high-tech and highly pleasant interior. The materials used are beautiful and of a high standard. They look very nice and it is an extremely pleasant place to be. And you can hate on me if you want, but I’m sold on brown leather. Yummo!
It will take some time for you to get to grips with the dual-touchscreen layout of the cabin, but once you get the hang of it, it becomes second nature.
The media screen is very easy to use, the menus are simple to learn, and over my week there were absolutely no issues with Apple CarPlay - either when connected via USB, or when used wirelessly.
The second screen below controls a lot of the main functions of the air conditioning system, and while I’m not a huge fan of using a screen to touch through temperature and fan controls, this one has haptic feedback and is well positioned - it’s not as much of a glance away from the road as in, say, a Land Rover or Range Rover. There’s also a volume knob which is good, and quick buttons for Drive Select and demister for front and rear windscreens.
In terms of the practicalities, there are bottle holders in the doors, a pair of cup holders between the front seats, a covered centre console bin with Qi wireless phone charging (remember not to leave your phone in there!) and there are two USB ports in there, plus a SIM card slot and SD card slot as well.
The seat comfort is very good - there’s electric adjustment on both seats with lumbar adjustment, and the driver’s seat gets memory settings as well. The electric steering wheel adjust is a nice touch as well, and there’s a remote boot release trigger, too.
There are twin sunroofs, and the front one can tilt and slide while the rear one is fixed. It helps lighten things up a bit if you have the optional dark headlining, which I personally wouldn’t choose.
Rear seat space is excellent. Sitting behind my own 182cm driver’s seat position, I had easily enough legroom, headroom and shoulder room - in fact, the rear pew is so accommodating, it could easily fit three of me across - but foot space is a little tight due to the large transmission tunnel.
Those in the back are well catered for – there are 2x USB ports, a pair of large door pockets with bottle holders, twin mesh map pockets, a flip down armrest with storage and cupholders, and our car had quad zone climate control (as part of the optional Premium Plus package - standard is three-zone climate), plus there are centrally mounted directional air vents and in the door pillars at face height. Our tester also had those optional manual sunblinds, which would certainly help those in the back get some shut-eye on longer trips.
The centre section of the rear seat can be split folded down on its own as well – so you have 40:20:40 rear seat folding, which is great for skis or snowboards. Plus there are two ISOFIX child seat attachments and three top-tether points available for baby seats. And one of the most excellent additions to any car ever – illuminated seat belt buckle receivers. It just makes it that much easier to see at night.
If you need to fold down those rear seats, there are boot-mounted triggers. That’ll help expand the luggage capacity from the standard 565 litres (VDA) to an expansive 1680L (VDA). The cargo hold easily fit the three CarsGuide suitcases (124L, 95L and 36L) with room to spare.
There is no Audi Allroad seven seater, though. And that’s potentially where something like a Q7 makes more sense, depending on your intent.
Under the bonnet of the Audi A6 Allroad is what Audi labels the ‘45 TDI’ - a 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 engine that produces 183kW of power (from 2750-4500rpm) and 600Nm of torque (from 1500-3000rpm).
The engine is only available mated to an eight-speed torque-converter automatic transmission and Audi’s renowned ‘quattro’ all-wheel-drive (AWD) system.
Audi claims this 1980kg wagon can run from 0-100km/h in just 6.5 seconds, on its way to a top speed of 250km/h. It is a hummer of an engine - more on that in the driving section below.
Towing capacity is pegged at 750kg for an unbraked trailer, and maxes out at 2500kg for a braked trailer.
Should Aussies feel short changed when it comes to the engine options here? Arguably, yes - and that’s despite the powertrain offered here still being a stormer.
There’s only one spec available Down Under, and even it doesn’t get the most up-to-date emissions tech. There isn’t AdBlue urea treatment (meaning this is a Euro 5 engine), and our cars have essentially been de-specced to miss out on the latest 48-volt mild-hybrid tech, which is standard on all grades of the A6 Allroad in Europe. Maybe that is part of the reason the cost is down, this time around.
And while the outputs of the 45 TDI in Australia are pretty decent, other markets have the A6 Allroad offered in 50 TDI (210kW/620Nm) and 55 TDI (257kW/700Nm) trims. Remember, though - this is a very niche player here.
Audi claims the 45 TDI powertrain in the A6 Allroad will use 6.6 litres per 100 kilometres. That’s the official Australia fuel consumption figure on the combined-cycle test. CO2 emissions are claimed at 174g/km.
During my time in the Audi A6 Allroad I saw an average fuel use return of 7.4L/100km - which was taken over highways, back roads, unsealed roads and twisty bits. There was even some urban stop-start in there, too. I think that’s pretty darn good for a car of this size.
Fuel tank capacity is 63 litres, meaning a real-world range of 851km based on my fuel consumption.
As mentioned above, the A6 Allroad is a mild hybrid model in other markets, but not in Australia. We don’t even get the Euro 6-compliant version here, as there’s no incentive for it to be offered locally - as in, there’s not even AdBlue treatment.
There’s no electric version (though you might want to look at the all-new Audi e-tron) or plug in hybrid, and no petrol model either.
Here’s where the A6 Allroad separates itself from, say, an Audi Q5 or Q7. It’s a low-slung wagon, made for touring on country roads, doubling down on dirt backtracks and cruising comfortably on the freeway.
It’s not as upright as a Q5 or Q7, and that means it has a lower centre of gravity - so it feels more hunkered down, more settled into the surface below.
And in the case of the A6 Allroad, there’s adaptive air suspension all around to cushion the car from what lies beneath. For the most part, that air suspension is superb - it absorbs big bumps and lumps very well, though the oversized 21-inch optional wheels can’t disguise sharp edges from those in the cabin.
The general compliance is very good, and as I found out first hand, you can easily soak up hundreds of kilometres without feeling the affects of the road underneath you - even over bumpy country back roads and lumpy dirt sections.
The steering could be better; it’s a little bit vague and heavy on centre at higher pace, but at lower speeds it is light and amicable. Very easy to park despite its size, and easy to manoeuvre around town, too.
The engine builds pace with superb linearity, and it’s very quiet and refined as well. There is a tiny bit of turbo lag at lower speeds or from a standstill – but it is completely manageable and never feels like it’s sluggish at all. The 0-100km/h claim of 6.5 seconds seems achievable, too.
The eight-speed automatic transmission was mostly very smart and well sorted - although in other VAG models with this engine family/eight-speed auto, the transmission never felt quite as busy at higher speeds. I noticed it shuffling between seventh and eighth gears more than I was expecting, given how much torque the engine has. It’s not annoying at all, and nor is it unrefined, and could well have something to do with attempting to save fuel rather than leaving it in top gear.
During night driving, the optional HD Matrix LED headlights were exceptional - among the best headlight technology that I’ve ever encountered. The ‘matrix’ technology means they can blank out oncoming traffic or cars in front of you while keeping the high-beam on in other areas. The auto headlights with auto high beam worked very well, too.
The plan was never to do a serious off road review, but I did do some driving on unsealed roads and found the Allroad to be excellent.
Through slippery unsealed corners it exhibited excellent traction, though you can feel the weight of the car shifting from side to side when you pivot through corners. There was a touch of skittishness over mid-corner bumps, but again that could be more to do with the big wheels than anything else.
I came away thinking that if you had your eyes closed, you wouldn’t even know that you were on dirt or gravel. It really is an exceptional car across sealed and unsealed roads.
3 years / unlimited km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
The Audi A6 was awarded a five-star ANCAP crash test rating in 2018 testing, and according to the documentation on the ANCAP site, the rating applies to all variants from August 2019 in Australia - though strangely, the 45 TDI Allroad is missing from the list of variants.
Even so, the A6 Allroad is loaded with advanced driver-assist systems, including autonomous emergency braking (AEB) that works from 10km/h to 250km/h, and also incorporates pedestrian and cyclist detection which is operational from 10km/h to 85km/h.
There is also lane keeping assistance and Active Lane Departure Warning that can steer you back into your lane (between 65km/h and 250km/h). Further, there's blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert with rear AEB, and adaptive cruise control with stop and go functionality - which happens to be the best example of the breed that this tester has yet sampled.
There are other safety helpers like Turn Assist and Intersection Crossing Assist, both of which monitor oncoming and surrounding traffic and can warn you of potential danger, plus Audi’s Exit Warning System that can warn occupants of oncoming cars and cyclists and delay door opening.
It is fitted with a configurable surround-view camera (360-degree camera with 3D animation), front and rear parking sensors, semi-autonomous self parking, driver fatigue monitoring, and there are eight airbags fitted (dual front, front side, rear side, full-length curtain).
Audi offers a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, which is as good as BMW, but not as good as Lexus (four years/100,000km) or Mercedes-Benz, Volvo and Genesis (five years/unlimited kilometres). It’s falling behind in the luxury sphere.
The company offers reasonably priced capped price ownership plans for maintenance. Purchasers can roll in the cost of either a three-year service plan ($2170) or a five-year plan ($3300). That covers off the usual service items due every 12 months/15,000km.
Roadside assist is included for the period of the new car warranty.
I was thoroughly impressed by the Audi A6 Allroad 45 TDI quattro 2020 model. It is excellent on road, resolved and comfortable on unsealed surfaces, and very well packaged for family touring.
I’d personally have it in a heartbeat over a Q7 or any SUV, for that matter. I can understand why some buyers wouldn’t consider it, but if you’re someone who likes to think outside of the boxy SUV, then be sure to take a look at the Audi A6 Allroad.
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|Price and features||7|
|Engine & trans||8|