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Motors has been in Germany testing the third generation Audi A6 Allroad.

Allroad is a niche sub-brand in the Audi range that offers the space of an Avant (estate) but with higher ground clearance and, of course, Quattro four-wheel drive.

On the outside, the new car looks impressive in the flesh. Unlike a Q7 or similar SUV/Crossover, Audi's A6 Allroad has a ride height that the vertically challenged won't need a step ladder to get into - but the Allroad still offers enough ground clearance to indicate it is capable of moderate off-road use. Sadly, the German test drive routes chosen by Audi had no off-road sections! None of the international motoring press could experience the car's capabilities over a standard Avant in the countryside of southern Germany.

So, apart from sitting a little higher in the 3-litre TDi Quattro - six centimetres to be exact - all I can comment on is the on-road ability of the car which, unsurprisingly, is very similar to the standard A6 Avant.

Another error on Audi's part was the fact that the test cars were fitted with conventional tyres and no spare wheel - just an inflation kit! Thankfully, Audi Ireland will be fitting a spare wheel as standard.

What else is new? The new Allroad is more efficient, with an up to 20% reduction in fuel consumption over the outgoing car that was launched in 2006. New Allroad is lighter, too, by some 70kg. Stop/Start features for the first time and this is the main reason for the greater fuel savings and reduced CO2 figures.

Adaptive air suspension is standard and adjusts the ride according to the car's speed. At higher speed, the car lowers by 15mm to aid aerodynamics. From its normal height, the suspension can also rise by 35mm ('Lift' mode), giving a total range of 50mm. There is a tilt angle display and a hill descent system that will work up to 40km/h - not that we had the chance to experience it.

The Irish market will get four six-cylinder engine options in the A6 Allroad when it arrives in June. Pricing starts at €64,080 on the road for the 3-litre diesel with 204bhp. €64,000 is a lot of cash and a good €10,000 more than the entry point in Germany due to our high taxes.

SE is the standard specification so you get a lot of toys for your money, but rest assured you can specify loads more from the options list to suit your budget. Inside the cabin it is a really well-appointed place to spend some quality time.

There is an existing A6 Allroad customer base of around 200 in Ireland that Audi has built up since the Mark 1 Allroad arrived in 2000. The engines that can be chosen from launch are: a 3-litre TFSI (petrol 310bhp) and three TDi diesels that all feature 3-litre engines but differing power outputs of 204bhp, 245bhp (that's just right) and 313bhp using Bi-Turbo technology. The Bi-Turbo has a massive amount of torque and could pull a house off its foundations. It also makes a glorious sound thanks to a tuned exhaust that features a unique baffle to generate the growl.

A6 Allroad is a very desirable estate car in its own right, but clearly it will have limited appeal. A6 Avant, especially when specified in Quattro, is more affordable and simply makes more sense.

Michael Sheridan