What’s new? The original Allroad failed to fly off Audi production lines. 0nly around 20,000 were sold a year, but it did well in the UK. At the launch of the first-generation car I took it on mountain tracks, where it really did perform. The blend of high ground clearance and permanent 4WD gave it genuine rock-hopping ability.It might be a surprise to see the A6-derived Allroad back again, especially when an entry-level 3.0-litre TDi Q7 is less than £1000 more expensive. But we should be glad of it, because here is a step forward in sophistication. Wider and longer, today’s version has an enviable cabin with an instinctive centre console.For our first bash on UK roads we tried what will be the entry-level model at launch in July: a 177bhp 2.7-litre V6 diesel with a six-speed tiptronic autobox. Manual versions are due in late summer and V6 FSI petrol engines in 2007. Well kitted with quattro drive, five-position air suspension, electronic driver aids, 17in alloys and aluminium trim, at £33,530 the Allroad appears to be good value.What’s it like? The engine, while refined and responsive, might struggle during hard overtaking with a full load, so the additional £2850 for the 3.0-litre diesel’s extra 52bhp and 59lb ft of torque is worth considering.I find the nose styling and some exterior detailing over-fussy and frilly, yet this is a very satisfying car. It’s quiet, rapid, solid and cosseting.Audi’s efforts to improve ride and handling have worked well; the compact engine and lightweight transmission contribute to an unrattled ride. In the suspension’s ‘Auto’ setting, only big potholes cause an upset.Should I buy one? The sense of nose-heaviness has also been reduced. Servotronic steering delivers extra weight to the wheel rim in fast corners, but there’s no real feel. Even so, there’s great satisfaction to be found in bends. This car is also so well planted that when I hit deep standing water at speed the Allroad slowed, but sailed onwards.