Audi A6 Avant review
It may not be the most engaging behind the wheel, but the A6 Avant is one of the biggest and most fuel efficient premium estates
The Audi A6 Estate combines all the aspects of Audi Brits find desirable: great powertrains, stunning build quality and sharp styling - with the versatility of a commodious Avant wagon bodyshell. 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 comfort and refinement. After all, it is bigger inside than a BMW 5-Series Touring or Jaguar XF Sportbrake.
The powerful diesels, especially the 2.0-litre Ultra offers the best in terms of compromise between performance and efficiency but more potent 3.0-litre diesels are on offer, too. There are three trim levels: SE, S line and Black Edition all coming as standard with leather upholstery, sat-nav, four-zone climate control and alloy wheels. There is also a rugged 4x4 version with a raised ride-height and plastic cladding called the Audi A6 Allroad. And if you need to go from 0-62mph in less than four seconds, there's always the 552bhp 4.0-litre bi-turbo V8 RS6 Avant.
Our choice: Audi A6 Avant Ultra 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 to these eyes. 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.
Step inside and Audi’s ability to design and execute beautiful interiors is carried over to the A6 Avant. Leather is standard across the range with Bluetooth, sat nav and four-zone climate control also chucked in as standard. The driving positing is excellent and the wide range of adjustability in the driver’s seat helps provide a great view of the road ahead. Flaws? Well the multimedia card reader slots are ugly, the plastic gearshift paddles on non-performance variants are ugly, and the MMI infotainment system isn't quite as slick as BMW's iDrive.
Safe, secure and fast – that's the A6 Avant. Audi has also replaced the entry-level model with a new fuel-efficient Ultra variant., which is not only more economical but also better to drive. The 2.0-litre diesel engine has been tweaked to deliver an extra 12bhp – now at 187bhp – while the old CVT automatic gearbox has been ditched in favor of the brilliant twin-clutch S Tronic auto. It’s punchy, smooth and surprisingly refined for a four-cylinder diesel. If you want four-wheel drive, you'll have to step up to the 3.0-litre V6 diesels, which are all rapid – especially in the case of the twin-turbo BiTDI – and have lots of grip. However, BMW's twin-turbo straight-six diesels are both more potent and nicer to listen to.
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. With light steering and a nose-heavy attitude, the A6 isn't as fun or as well-balanced as it's rear-wheel drive rivals, but it has excellent road manners and is a great mile-muncher.
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. The seats don't fold completely flat though, which may limit the size of loads the A6 avant is able to swallow.
As the Audi A6 Avant is mostly bought as a company car, the 2.0 Ultra TDI will be the most popular – and it makes a lot of sense, claiming 64.2mpg and emitting just 114g/km. The fact that the S-tronic is more economical than the manual is a real boon for this premium car too. The more powerful 3.0-litre diesels are almost fairly efficient – the 215bhp version does 58.9mpg and 125g/km.
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.