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Ten years ago they had just five models, the A3, A4, A4 Avant, A4 Cabriolet and A6. As of July’s UK launch of the all-new A6 Allroad they will have 21 different model ranges. In the same period Audi’s share of the UK’s new car market has gone from 1.3% to 3.8%. They are not finished yet with a raft of other new models scheduled this year.
The big three premium brands are BMW with a 4.25% share of the UK market, followed by Audi 3.8% and Mercedes with 2.73%. Volvo
is next with 1.44%.
Although Audi have offered quattro four-wheel drive systems for road going models it has had to rely on the previous Allroad, launched in July 2000, to dip its toe into the SUV or marginal off-road sector. That was until the very recent launch of the huge Audi Q7 SUV 4x4.
The all-new A6 Allroad, with its estate car body, sits between the A6 Avant quattro and the Q7. Audi say they are the only premium manufacturer to offer both Allroad estate car and a full SUV and these two types of vehicles will appeal to very different customers.
Although both sets of customers will come from the same 40-50 age group each with an average salary of £50-£60k, Audi say they differ status orientation and extrovert nature. More simply they mean Allroad drivers are more restrained and seek less attention whilst SUV owners, who might buy their Q7, want to flaunt their flamboyant aspirations.
Audi’s UK research shows around 60% of Allroad customers will be private buyers and 93% will be male. They will have above average income, be self-employed or managers, senior employees and most likely they will be self-made. They have high expectations and a strong affinity for technology but do not like the compromises required by traditional 4x4 vehicles. Sailing, golf and horse riding are listed as owner’s favourite pastimes.
Initially in July Audi UK will be delivering to customers two versions of the new Audi A6 Allroad five-door estate. The main selling model will be the 2.7 TDI model with an180PS, 380Nm diesel unit priced at £33,530. The second launch model will be the 3.0 TDI version with 233PS and 450Nm of power/torque costing £36,380. Both will have a six-speed tiptronic automatic transmission. A six-speed manual version of the 3.0TDI is expected to be introduced later this summer followed early next year by 3.2 and 4.2 litre FSI direct injection petrol derivatives. The 2.7 TDI model shows an 8% price increase over the outgoing 2.5 TDI Allroad, due mainly to the cost of new engine technology whilst petrol versions are likely to cost in the region of 4.6% more than the Allroads they replace say Audi.
Now for the sales numbers. Audi really see the new Allroad as a niche and exclusive vehicle with the vast majority of customers choosing the 2.7 TDI tiptonic model. For the remainder of this year they only expect to deliver 700 units in total with 545 of those being the 2.7 TDI variant, 120 of the 3.0 TDI version and only 35 units of the 3.0 TDI manual transmission vehicles. In 2007, with the addition of petrol versions, Audi expects the UK market to receive a total of 900 units of which 855 will be diesel with just 45 petrol units. In 2008 sales are expected to be around 800 units with all but 40 of them being diesel models.
Audi say, although there is no direct competitor to the new A6 Allroad in the D segment, it will compete for sales against such models as the Volvo XC90, BMW X5, VW Touareg, Land Rover Discovery, Mercedes-Benz M and R-Classes and the Range Rover Sport.
The new A6 Allroad quattro takes on a ‘harder’ edge for styling than the A6 Avant on which it is based. The Allroad uses an exclusive design of grille and front and rear bumpers from the A6 Avant. It also has flared wheelarches, extended sills and stainless steel underbody protection panels. Audi claim the Allroad’s go anywhere looks are matched with ‘torque-rich’ engines with the quattro four-wheel drive system incorporating a self-locking centre differential. In addition the automatic/manual adjustable air suspension has five ride-height positions giving a maximum ground clearance of up to 185mm.
The manufacturer says the benefits of owning one of the rare new Audi A6 Allroad quattros are: luxurious off-road ability without appearing to be conspicuous or anti-social, off-road ability with estate car performance and economy, it is a unique vehicle in the premium sector, the Allroad and Q7 compliment each other but they are desired by very different customers.
Last week’s UK media introduction to the all-new Allroad range was held at The Guards Polo Club in Windsor Great Park, just the sort of location that fits well with the celebrity status Audi has nurtured for the cars and just the sort of place you expect to see four-wheel drive premium vehicles.
The Allroad has long been a favourite for well off people who cover great distances travelling in their line of business but who generally live in the country. They need to get from place to place in all weathers and part of their life will include driving off-road. They do not find it necessary to have a big unwieldy heavyweight 4x4 but prefer something which is fast and more suitable for motorways yet retains the ability to cope with mud, snow, sand and rough tracks as work or leisure dictates. I live in the country and I see a growing band of well off people driving these vehicles. The sort of people are well known horse trainers and racing stable owners, on the gallops watching their horses in the early morning and then going to a racecourse probably at the other end of the country for the start of racing lunchtime. I use this group of people only as an example but it typifies the sort of person who I know from first hand experience chooses such a vehicle as the Allroad. They could equally be surveyors, architects, landed gentry, the ‘Royals’, all high profile professional people needing to do their job whatever the weather.
The qualities of the Audi A6, the Avant and the quattro four-wheel drive systems have been well documented by the motoring media with barely a negative word to say, other than perhaps price. The interiors are the best in the business in the premium segment both for design, application and quality. The estate area is large but not the largest and the quattro system sharpens up the handling of all Audi models where it is an option. With the added adjustable air suspension you get the best of all worlds. Limpet road adhesion, a smooth flat computer controlled ride with good handling feedback to the driver and the ability to increase the ground clearance only when needed are all elements which combine to give the Allroad a serious advantage over traditional off-roaders, unless of course really bad off-road terrain is likely to be encountered. Snow, mud and rutted tracks will not stop the Allroad but because it has a car–type suspension it will not absorb the worst of impacts encountered dropping into very deep off road tracks created by tractors and 4x4s. So it really is a case of knowing what the Allroad can do in reality and of course that means for 99% of the time it does everything you might need very well.
Audi are quite right to say that the majority of customers will choose the 2.7-litre TDI, 180PS diesel engine, but for a little more money and virtually the same fuel consumption, the 3.0-litre 233PS TDI unit gives you more ‘grunt’. It feels more responsive and more able to effortlessly cope with high on-road speeds. The big increase in torque when the going is tough through thick stocky mud is also a real benefit. This unit is also more in keeping with the performance from similar sized new diesel engines being used by BMW and Mercedes as well. It would be my optimum choice of Allroad model, but I could live with the smaller unit.
Audi A6 Allroad Quattro. Main selling model, the 2.7 V6 TDI tiptronic.
Engine: Euro 4, V6, common rail direct injection diesel, 24-valves, piezo injectors, with turbocharger, intercooler and diesel particulate filter.
Transmission: 6-speed tiptonic with Sport programme, permanent four-wheel; drive with self-locking centre differential, electronic differential lock and traction control.
Performance: 133mph, 0-62mph in 9.3 seconds, 32.4mpg, CO2 229 g/km.
For: Desirable brand, impeccable interior design and quality, limited numbers for sale, good on and off road performance, luxury estate and posh workhorse all in one vehicle.
Against: A long list of high cost options some of which should be standard fit in this market sector.
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