The thought is attractive: Escape to an island and neglect concerning the world’s troubles for a second. However as we board a ferry to only such a spot—Beaver Island in Lake Michigan—we begin to surprise if the escape is well worth the hassle of getting there. We have already pushed 4 hours north to Charlevoix, and now we’ll spend one other two on a 32-mile boat experience that prices $32.50 per individual. Ought to’ve introduced a e book.
We paid $105 to have the great individuals of Beaver Island Boat Firm load our 2020 Audi A6 Allroad onto the ferry, too. This automobile is a form of fantasy come to life. It is an instance of the uncommon European station wagon that has made the leap from forbidden fruit to completely realized and federalized automobile on the market at U.S. dealerships. However that does not imply it will be a commodity.
Certainly, this Allroad is the one wagon among the many automobiles within the hull (we’re undoubtedly not counting the Dodge Journey). And it will be an unusual sight within the U.S., as we do not count on Audi will promote various thousand per yr right here. However curiously sufficient, the Allroad is a part of a development—albeit one with area of interest enchantment.
Posh wagons like this are experiencing a small resurgence in America. A few of them are festooned with bits of plastic physique cladding and adjustable-height suspensions cribbed from SUVs, however we all know a real wagon once we see one. Volvo has the V60 and V90; Mercedes, the E-class; Jaguar, the XF Sportbrake; and Porsche—sure, even Porsche—has the Panamera Sport Turismo. However Audi outdoes all of them, providing two sizes of wagon (the A4 and A6) like Volvo in addition to a high-performance variant (the 591-hp RS6 Avant) like Mercedes and Porsche. American wagon consumers—a minimum of these with disposable earnings—now discover themselves within the unlikely place of being spoiled for selection.
Beaver Island is dwelling to about 600 year-round residents, and even when tourism picks up in the summertime, the one time you may see something resembling a crowd is when the ferry docks and lets off passengers. Ready to disembark, we’re transfixed by the seemingly choreographed actions of the ferry’s personnel as they unload all method of automobiles—bicycles, building tools, large field vans. Lastly, our Soho Brown Allroad departs the vessel, and we got down to see what this small rock in the course of a lake has to supply.
Beaver Island, which occupies 55 sq. miles of the lake, has about 100 miles of street. However few of those routes look something like what we repeatedly drive on again dwelling, and a few of them stretch the definition of “street.” As an illustration, on the map, Gull Harbor Drive seems to be a lovely waterfront byway on the northeast tip of the island. It’s not, as we discover out once we stubbornly press previous “Street Closed” indicators solely to comprehend that this slim filth path merely disappears into the crystal-clear water of the lake. So we head towards the opposite finish of the island on King’s Freeway—one of many few paved roads—and hit filth as we start alongside East Facet Drive. We choose the automobile’s Allroad driving mode, which raises the physique 1.2 inches by way of the usual air springs. (There’s additionally a further 0.6-inch elevate accessible under 22 mph.)
Honestly, we might most likely traverse any of the island’s well-maintained filth roads simply superb in an A6 sedan. However is not it extra becoming to go exploring on this subtly rugged wagon? That is the form of mild adventuring that Allroads are meant for, and the A6’s brown paint and grey wheel-arch cladding mix superbly with the vivid-green bushes, bright-blue water, and rich-tan sand that make up the Beaver Island panorama. The air-spring setup gives a gloriously easy experience, preserving passengers comfy over washboard sections of street.
The Allroad’s elevated experience peak, revised suspension setup, and long-roof bodywork aft of the B-pillar are the one significant variations from the A6 sedan. The 2 are in any other case mechanically similar and powered by the identical turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6, which makes 335 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque and makes use of an unobtrusive 48-volt hybrid system. A seven-speed dual-clutch automated is customary, as is Audi’s Quattro with Extremely all-wheel-drive system, which incorporates a rear-axle decoupling perform to enhance gasoline financial system. It appears to do the trick. Again on paved interstate, the Allroad achieves a outstanding 34 mpg on our 75-mph freeway fuel-economy loop.
On the take a look at monitor, the A6 wagon runs to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds and completes the quarter-mile in 13.8 seconds at 102 mph. That makes it a half-second slower in each metrics than the 2019 A6 sedan that is 155 kilos lighter. On the northern finish of the island, distinguished 25-mph speed-limit indicators have us transferring at a slower tempo, though we see no posted limits within the extra distant areas to the south. There the V-6 propels the Allroad with a simple sensation of energy, however the engine word is so flat and distant, we discover ourselves lacking the cabin-filling character of Audi’s previous supercharged V-6. The twin-clutch transmission shifts rapidly and easily however reveals simply sufficient clumsiness at low speeds to make us surprise why Audi does not use ZF’s peerless eight-speed automated right here, because it does within the Q7 SUV with this engine.
Audi’s dual-touchscreen infotainment setup is one other questionable choice. We aren’t overly involved with the diversion of working the touch-sensitive local weather controls on quiet Beaver Island, the place the roads are principally empty. However again within the hustle and bustle of regular life, we desire Audi’s previous, much less distracting MMI setup, which used satisfyingly tactile buttons and knobs on the sprint and an intuitive rotary controller on the console.
We’re a bit upset to search out that we’ve got cell service on a lot of the island. Connecting to the Allroad’s in-car Wi-Fi community feels fallacious in a spot like this, however there is a sure degree of connectivity you count on in a automobile beginning at $66,895. Our properly optioned Status mannequin—which has such luxuries as heated and ventilated entrance seats, a head-up show, and soft-close doorways—stickers for $72,910. That is sufficient to web you a pleasant plot of land on Beaver Island, if not a small rustic cabin.
Most individuals will not ever think about both of those peculiar purchases, although. Simply because you already know the island exists doesn’t suggest you may go there, and simply because station wagons just like the A6 Allroad can be found within the U.S. doesn’t suggest individuals will purchase them. However possibly that is the purpose. An A6 Allroad would not appear almost as fascinating should you noticed one on each nook, and Beaver Island would not really feel so fantastically secluded if it have been overrun with vacationers. These kinds of hidden gems are undeniably particular, however do not unfold the phrase too extensively. And should you do make a journey to Beaver Island, bear in mind to deliver alongside an excellent e book for the ferry experience.