April 2, 2000

Audi's allroad quattro spotted in North America
Text and photos by Matt Daniels      Additional photos by John Stahmann

While Audi's all road quattro, their first venture into SUV territory, isn't a big secret anymore, it was still surprising to learn that one was parked at a local Utah Audi dealer. Considering that it had its world debut less than a month ago in Geneva, the allroad quattro is probably a surprise to see no matter where it is located in the world. Needless to say once I found out about it, I had to go check it out for myself.

Since I've only seen the allroad quattro in pictures, I didn't know what to expect. Even though I knew that it's basically an A6 Avant, I was still expecting it to be bigger, more SUV like. But it's not; it's the same as the A6 Avant, just with a little more ground clearance. After looking at it for about 5 minutes I went into the dealer and found a salesman and asked about it. Overall he wasn't too knowledgeable about it, he basically told me that it was a test car from Germany and that he had no info on it, he couldn't open it and nobody could drive it. After that very enlightening conversation I went out and looked at it for a few more minutes then went on my way. Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera with me that night.

The next day, John Stahmann and I went back to the dealer at lunch; both armed with digital cameras. This time the car was parked around the back of the building where the cars being serviced are parked. A service technician saw us looking at it and started giving us all the details on it. The car was delivered directly to the dealer from Germany and was being used for a photo shoot in Moab. We found out that the service manager had the key and after asking around they actually opened it up for us so we could get a good close look at the inside too.

The car itself is the Steppe Green color with color coordinated interior. One nice feature was the headliner, which was all green Alacantara. All that green sounds kind of hideous at first, but in reality it wasn't very noticeable. This car was also equipped with Audi's Navigation Plus system, which is currently not available in North America. Since this was a German spec car, the TV feature didn't work since it was programmed for European TV. All the manuals and literature inside the car were in German and for the regular A6 Avant. The only thing about the interior I didn't like was the wood trim - it seemed a little out of place with the rest of car.

John Stahmann inspecting the interior layout of the allroad quattro

The exterior is more "Subaru Outback" than a traditional SUV. The two tone color design definitely give the car a more unique and aggressive appearance over the regular A6 Avant. The wheels where the optional 17" 5-spoke design wheels which were very unique; they look like a 2-piece wheel and have a "layered" look to the spokes. The tires were the Pirelli Cinturato P6 allroad tires which were developed specifically for the allroad. At the time we looked at the car, it only had 162 kilometers on it. Another interesting thing about this particular allroad was the German plate on the front is the same number as one of the cars that has appeared in numerous press photos already.

Unfortunately, we were not able to take the allroad quattro for a drive. We even asked if someone could take us for a quick drive around the block with no luck. Since this car is equipped with the 2.7T engine, I would guess that its performance would be similar, but somewhat slower, to the A6 2.7T sedan - at least in a straight line. Who knows what the cornering capabilities are with its adjustable suspension?

Obviously I can't comment on the allroad quattro's off road capabilities, but then again does it really matter? The only time this car will see any "real" off road duty is during Audi marketing events and in the hands of journalist who don't care what happens to it anyway since it's not their car. Owners of this car will probably take it off road as often as owners of the Mercedes, BMW, Lexus and any other high end SUV's do - almost never. But I must admit that I'm looking forward to the day I can test one for a week and see how it handles on some of Utah's back mountain roads.

The allroad quattro will most likely make its official US debut at this months New York Auto Show, this is were most of the general public will get to see it for the first time. The car will probably be on sale this fall, but until then, people in the western United States should keep an eye open, because you may be able to see this car roaming around. If it can show up out of the blue in Salt Lake City, Utah, I have a feeling it could show up almost anywhere.


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