Audi A6 Avant vs rivals

Audi A6 Avant vs rivals
Credits: Pete Gibson
12 Oct, 2011 11:30am

Does the new Audi A6 Avant pack enough load-carrying muscle to beat 5 Series and E-Class?

Can the new Audi A6 claim another executive crown? The saloon won the Best Executive Car trophy at our New Car Awards 2011, and now it’s the turn of the Avant estate to give the BMW 5 Series Touring and Mercedes E-Class Estate a run for their money.

This more practical version of the A6 features the same high kit levels, brilliant cabin quality and smart looks as the saloon, while the 565-litre boot will be useful for executive buyers who want more space than the four-door can provide.

Here we test the anticipated best-seller, the 2.0-litre TDI, which is frugal and efficient. This is sure to attract company car buyers, but the A6 Avant isn’t going to earn a space in the corporate car park without a fight. The 5 Series is our current executive estate favourite. In 520d form it also promises to be clean and economical, while sporty dynamics mean it’s hugely enjoyable to drive.

The E-Class is another premium model with practical appeal. A raft of technology ensures the E220 CDI is more efficient than ever, and it has the largest boot on test. The A6 Avant really has its work cut out...


For many estate car buyers, ultimate carrying capacity is king. On this basis, the classy-looking and refined Mercedes takes some beating, as its vast 695-litre boot is 135 litres larger than its nearest challenger here. Yet the E220 is held back by its high price and running costs, dated cabin and slightly less accomplished dynamics. In such a close contest, such failings leave the E220 in third place. Finishing narrowly ahead of the Mercedes is the BMW. The dynamic 520d is the fastest and most rewarding to drive of our trio, plus it boasts superb residuals and low running costs. But its boot is the smallest here and the ride of our M Sport test car was unforgivably firm – the cheaper SE is a far more comfortable choice. So, that leaves the A6 out in front. As with its saloon brother, the Avant has no real weaknesses. It’s not quite as much fun to drive as the BMW, but this is a small price to pay for its sleek styling, efficient drivetrain, high-quality cabin and excellent versatility. Factor in its generous kit list and low company car tax bills, and it’s not hard to see why the A6 takes a well deserved win.

1. Audi A6 Avant
When it comes to all-round appeal, the A6 takes some beating. Its sleek styling, composed chassis and low company car tax bills make it hugely desirable. And while it hasn’t got the biggest boot, the load area has been very thoughtfully designed. 

2. BMW 520d Touring
For keen drivers the BMW is still the number one choice, thanks to its sharp handling and strong engine. And despite its small boot, the car’s spacious cabin and neat split tailgate make it a versatile choice. But it’s denied victory by its price and bone-jarring ride.

3. Mercedes E220 CDI
When it comes to the space race, the E-Class scores a clear victory over its rivals. The big Merc also takes the spoils for comfort and refinement. It’s a shame it’s held back by its high price, average residuals and higher running costs.

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The Volvo is probably ideal for some, and it certainly looks great.

However, this German trio have been going head to head for almost two decades so I guess the comparison is inevitable.

Surely this is a wrong comparison? Mercedes E-Class against the Audi A6, yes, but they should both be pitted against the BMW 5-series tourer surely, not the 3-series, which is in the same class as the Merc C-Class and Audi A4.
Hard therefore not to conclude that this article cannot deliver that which was intended.

Thanks for the comment - the test does include the 5 Series, never a 3 Series. Have we put a typo somewhere?

The 5 Series came second in this test - it's still the number one choice for keener drivers, but the harsh ride and price tag means it only gets 2nd overall.

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Typo is in the link from the front page - suggests that A6 and E Class are up against the 3 Series.

Thanks - we've just fixed it. Sorry for the appalling typo!

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I have a 3 year old A6 avant (driven Audis for the past 15 years) and I am looking to spend £40k on replacing it with one these, but I just can't get excited by any of them.
The A6 may be brilliantly put together but for me Audi have lost their way in a design sense the A5 beautiful! - everything since slowly slipping downhill - more jewelry on an increasingly uninspiring form is not a design strategy that I buy into, plus the Audi dealers near Bristol defy belief with their incompetance and outright dishonesty.
The BMW has lost the theatre and elegance of the last model and looks from most angles like a 3 series - I laughed at the comment that someone thought it was a 3 series!
And the Mercedes, for me the brand has always had a certain cachet but the E class just feels too old - I am not yet in my forties and it feels like I need to be 50 to drive one.
With my budget I feel that I should be spoilt for choice, but with the need to fit 3 car seats in the back and a desire to avoid the obvious SUV / MPV route I find myself uninspired.

Like brizzleboy I too feel uninspired by these estates. I currently drive a Discovery 3 and a Defender but now want to explore alternatives to a 4x4 as I'm moving from a farm into a more populated area.

Need the space for dogs but can honestly say I've never used the 7 seat capacity of the Disco but viewing these estates makes me feel I am closer to getting my pension than my actual 40 years! I've viewed the Evoque but can't justify spending that amount of money on a Ford Focus based car yet my local LR dealer tells me I'll wait a year if I want to order one now. Crazy. I want a car that drives me emotionally that feels special enough to spend my money on.

Ok, I'm a fool.

I think you need to look at the Skoda Superb Combi in Elegance trim. Not only does it look brill - you might be v pleasantly surprised and save ££s too.
Furthermore, you can have the same engine as the Audi with 170bhp DSG CR TDI etc.
I have recently bought the Superb Hatch - after owning Volvo - and am v pleased with it.

I agree with brizzleboy and porky

I am also astonished by the conservative design - none of these vehicles really appeal - they might to a 65 year old but not to a family with growing kids which is why I was looking for this amount of space - I suppose the Audi has by a narrow margin the least geriatric design but that's hardly a reason for shelling out your hard earned cash!