Audi’s A6 Allroad is one of the most difficult-to-criticise cars I’ve ever written about.
If you can afford one (they start at well over £40,000) they’re handsome, spacious enough for a family of four, ultra-comfortable, fast, economical and have enough off-road ability to cope with a fierce Scottish winter.
Which is just as well, as the snow was coming down in sheets and I had a friend in Pitlochry to visit.
On a dark and snowy night the Allroad is about as comfortable and reassuring a car to be in this side of a Range Rover.
The four-zone heater ensured me and my passenger were cosy and the wipers steadily cleared the white stuff from the windscreen.
Audi’s Quattro four-wheel drive kept the car glued to the road even through ankle-deep slush. Obviously it isn’t designed for heavy duty off-road use, but the car’s ride height can be raised from 6cm above a standard A6 Avant to 18.5cm higher, allowing it to cope with muddy fields, deep ruts and rocks.
The A6 Allroad starts at £43,465 for the 3.0 litre, six-cylinder, 204hp turbodiesel but I’d recommend stretching to £45,000 for the car I had with the 245hp version of the same engine: it’s the one around three-quarters of buyers go for.
Those who want the ultimate Allroad should save up for the £49,760 BiTDI version. This uses the same three-litre diesel unit but with two turbochargers, giving an output of 313hp and bringing 0-62mph up in a startling 5.6 seconds. Impressively, it still returns 42.2mpg.
But my car was plenty quick enough. The seven-speed S-tronic transmission whisks through the gears. With 0-62 coming up in 6.6 seconds it’s only a second slower than the BiTurbo, and in real-life driving the wave of acceleration when you put your foot down is enough to overtake quickly and safely.
The boot swallows 565 litres – enough for a family of four to fit a week’s worth of suitcases – and if you fold the rear seats the space available rises to 1,680 litres.
Its carrying capacity came in handy when hitting the slopes for the weekend – the Allroad handled Glenshee’s car park like it was tarmac rather than deep snow on mud.
Of course, £45,000 is a lot of money to pay for a car – especially when you can get a broadly-similar four-wheel drive estate from Volkswagen or Skoda for almost £20,000 less.
But the A6 is more capable, more comfortable and much more luxurious.