LITTLE wonder the market has seen such a surge in utility vehicles which suit most family needs so well.

The SUVs are so practical and possess a useful measure of offroad ability despite being largely aimed at everyday road use.

Among the top-bracket vehicles is the talented Audi A6 Allroad Quattro – the all-wheel-drive version of the Avant estate. With the Allroad you’ll have no problem towing your horse trailer across a muddy field or ferrying the family far and fast in outstanding comfort.

But while it is surprising capable over rough ter rain it is not designed to match the big mudpluggers down on the farm or in the forest.

However, with prices for the Audi ranging from £43,150 to £49,445, the model is mainly for the German manufacturer’s more wealthy customers who look for versatility, class-leading build quality, user friendliness and fuel efficiency.

These buyers don’t necessary want rugged off-road ability as nearly all their motoring will be on the tarmac anyway.

The Allroad engines have come in for much attention and have plenty of punch – and smoothness – for those who travel far and fast.

There is a three-litre TFSi petrol with 306bhp, and three diesels with outputs of 201bhp, 241bhp and 308bhp (with twin turbos).

Proving the most popular is the V6 241bhp unit mated to a smooth and fast-shifting seven-speed automatic transmission.

This is an advanced motor with a wide torque range so that you are ensured of high performance for swift overtaking or changes of direction.

The motor is so punchy that it never seems wanting for fast acceleration and consequently it’s a real gem for the motorist in a hurry.

Audi has paid much attention to style and with the slippery lines of the estate it now looks better than ever.

It’s lost some of its body cladding for a more understated look but there are sill extensions and wheel arch trims to help prevent damage off-road. And, of course, there is stainless steel underbody armour which is often essential for off-road use.

There is no doubt that the vehicle is very capable off road and it if wasn’t for the front and rear overhangs it would probably perform even better in the rough, It’s the adaptive air suspension that enables the car to make such good progress off the tarmac. It gives the necessary ride height and on the tarmac the air suspension allows the Allroad to handle like a normal estate.

There are five different driving modes and an ESP stability system specially designed to cope with the demands of all-terrain driving.

On the road the Allroad offers a smooth and comfortable drive.

But despite a considerable weight saving over the previous model through the use of aluminium panels, the vehicle still feels solid and fairly heavy with nicely weighted and positive steering for communicative driving.

The all-wheel-drive system is reassuring when the driver is motoring fast along twisty routes.

The car can be hurried through tight bends with every confidence and when the road is wet and slippery the adhesion remains very high.

Like the exterior, the build quality of the interior is first-class.

There is sumptuous leather upholstery and Audi’s latest information system with satellite navigation, Bluetooth and auxiliary connectivity.

Other goodies include dual-zone climate control, hill start assist and parking sensors.

Being slightly wider and longer than its predecessor, there are space benefits inside as well as an additional 20 litres of luggage area.

The cargo space is simply huge, offering 565 litres and 1,860 litres with the split rear seats down.

The roof rails will also carry up to 120kg and for towing the capacity is 2,500 kg which should easily satisfy most drivers.

It you can af ford to buy an Allroad you may not be too concerned about running costs.

However, the vehicle is surprisingly fuel efficient, partly due to Audi’s fuel-saving efforts which include start/stop technology and kinetic energy recovery braking which comes as standard across the range.

The 241bhp motor gives a pleasing fuel return of 44.8mpg on the combined cycle, the one that relates closest to everyday driving, and CO2 emissions of 165g/km.