There are parts of this great land where the climate, demographics, and taste all conspire to create a market for all-wheel drive wagons. This writer has been in parking lots in Vermont where every car in the lot fits the description. For many, the pedestrian Subaru Outback is just not chic enough. For those looking for an executive sedan that can pull up its pant legs and march onward when the pavement turns to mocha-latte or drifting snow, the Audi All-Road is the answer.
At one time the All-road was available in America with an 8 cylinder engine. That time has now passed, and in place of the thirsty V8 Audi has supplanted a much more efficient turbo-charged and direct injected 3 liter V6. Fuel efficiency is increased up to 20 percent over previous models. You may ask, gas or diesel? And the answer is yes. Now properly powerful, the gasoline variant has 310hp, more than enough to blow past slow-pokes on the way to the ski lodge. Coupled to the All-Road’s engine is either an 8 speed, automatic “Tiptronic” transmission or a 7 speed “S tronic” dual clutch Auto. All are available with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. Audi’s legendary Quattro system now has torque vectoring to help reduce the inside real wheel’s speed in a turn, hence helping to rotate the car, and of course can vary power from front to back to make the most of available traction.
This may all sound a bit like the Audi A6 Avant. So what makes the All-Road special? A few things do. Most notable is the air suspension. I enables the driver to raise the car up a couple of inches when off road, or on poor roads. Whether this has any useful purpose is beside the point. It is insanely cool. That is the point. The car also lowers at highway speeds to improve handling and fuel efficiency. The All-Road sports skid plates underneath. Of course they are stainless steel. Rusty plates under a car where nobody but the Audi mechanic will ever look just wouldn’t do. Skid plates are functional, and are inexpensive insurance against the one stray tip of a glacial granite boulder that can ruin your day when flying down a logging road. The All-Road wears fender trim and other accents that add to the butch look.
All Audis have splendid interiors, cutting edge infotainment systems and offer solid performance. The 2013 Audi A6 All-Road Quattro has everything one expects of an Audi in a wagon body that can go in style anywhere a car should be, and many places one should not.