Audi A6 Avant review
It's not the biggest estate, but the Audi A6 Avant is still a practical and comfortable choice
Audi excels at making big, comfortable and practical estates – and the A6 Avant is one of its best. It doesn't beat the Mercedes E-Class Estate for maximum space, but it's spacious enough for most needs, and it offers a great driving experience with excellent comort and refinement. The powerful diesels, especially the 3.0 BiTDI twin-turbo, are brilliant if you can afford to run them, but the 2.0-litre diesel is the pick as an all-rounder, as it has plenty of pulling power and respectable running costs. There are just two trim levels: SE and S line with the latter adding sportier styling details and more equipment. There is also a rugged 4x4 version with a raised ride-height and plastic cladding called the Audi A6 Allroad.
Our choice: Audi A6 Avant 2.0 TDI SE
The Audi A6 Avant is a very handsome car - better looking than its BMW 5 Series Touring and Mercedes E-Class Estate rivals. Standard SE-trimmed cars looks the part, but if you want to stand out, the sporty S line trim level has stiffened and lowered suspension, a bodykit, bigger wheels, sports seats and LED lights. Inside, the cabin is beautifully made and logically laid out. The dials are clear and classy, and there's a great mix of metals, woods and leathers. The MMI system – a rotary knob which controls the car's menu-based system – makes sense once you get used to it and controls all the car's major functions.
Safe, secure and fast – that's the A6 Avant. Even the entry-level 2.0-litre diesel is punchy and refined. If you want four-wheel drive, you'll have to step up to the 3.0-litre V6 diesels, which are all very rapid – especially in the case of the new twin-turbo BiTDI – and have lots of grip. The top-spec 3.0-litre petrol TFSI is fast but prohibitively expensive to run. All models are good on the motorway and even the front-drive 2.0-litre diesel feels secure when cornering. If you want comfort, try to resist the S line, as its bigger wheels and stiffer suspension make the ride very firm. We'd also steer clear of the Multitronic CVT auto – it's a bit whiny – and go for the smoother S tronic dual-clutch gearbox instead.
The A6 saloon scored a maximum five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating, so we expect the same of the Avant. Safety equipment includes six airbags and stability control, with rear side airbags as an option, as is blind spot monitoring and a lane departure warning system. If build quality is anything to go by, the A6 Avant should be extremely reliable as everything inside and out feels supremely well made and all of the major mechanicals have been tried and tested in other models without any serious faults reported by owners.
The Audi A6 Avant is not as big as the enormous Mercedes E-Class Estate, but with 565 litres of boot space with the seats up and 1,680 litres with them down (versus 695/1,950 for the Mercedes), it's got more than enough for most people. It's very slightly up on the BMW 5 Series Touring too, which has 560 litres and 1,670 litres. The boot is full of helpful features, too. Neat touches include an automatic tailgate which opens if you wave your foot under the rear bumper, while the space inside is great – the loading lip is low and wide, while there are lots of lashing points and straps, making it easy to carry a wide variety of loads. Passenger room is excellent, too – there's lots of space in the back even for taller adults and its roomier behind the driver than in the svelte Jaguar XF Sportbrake.
As the Audi A6 Avant is mostly bought as a company car, the 2.0 TDI is the most popular – and it makes a lot of sense, claiming 57.6mpg and emitting just 129g/km. The more powerful 3.0-litre diesels are almost as efficient – the 201bhp version does 54.3mpg and 136g/km. As for the top-spec 3.0-litre petrol, it's very thirsty indeed and is best avoided. Choose a diesel and you'll be maximising residual values, too – diesels are always popular second-hand. Don't expect servicing or maintenance to be cheap on any model though. Equipment is generous – even SE versions have sat-nav, leather and dual-zone climate control along with front and rear parking sensors. Get carried away with the extensive options list though and the price can easily rise by several thousand pounds.