Style is a strong point for Audi’s estates, and the A6 arguably looks at its best in load-lugging form. The curved tailgate and chrome roof rails give it a classy look, while the boot is 65 litres larger than the BMW’s with the seats in place.
As with the 5-Series, the chair backs don’t fold totally flat, but the Audi has a 10-litre capacity advantage over the 525d with them fully folded. Yet it holds 290 litres less than the Mercedes, and the Avant’s 1,950mm maximum load length is the shortest here. However, the rest of the interior feels well built, and creates a real sense of occasion. The driving position is pleasing and the seats are comfortable, although the switch layout is more complicated than the Volvo’s.
As with the other cars here, rear room is good, but due to the big transmission tunnel, only two can travel in comfort. With four-wheel drive, the handling is reassuring, and traction is better than the V70’s. While the steering is accurate, the A6 isn’t as engaging as the BMW and, despite the £1,500 adaptive air-suspension, the ride wasn’t as composed as that of the Mercedes.
The 2.7-litre TDI engine isn’t as refined as its German rivals, and although its performance was closely matched to all but the BMW, the A6 doesn’t feel as smooth as the Mercedes or BMW. What’s more, there’s a fraction of lag before the turbo kicks in to deliver the forward thrust.
Steering wheel-mounted paddles give good control of the Tiptronic transmission, and the 4WD Audi is the only car on test to have an automatic gearbox as standard. When you consider you would have to spend at least £1,300 on any of its three rivals to get a self-shifter, that makes the £31,785 price seem good value.
Model tested: Audi A6 Avant 2.7 TDI SE
Chart position: 4
WHY: Audi’s Avant models set the benchmark for style and build quality in the estate car class
The Audi averaged 30.4mpg on our test, and with an official combined consumption of 33.6mpg, is the thirstiest of this quartet. An 80-litre tank gives a 535-mile range, though
It’s predicted to retain 48.4 per cent of its value, so the Audi has similar depreciation to the BMW. It’s worth £15,384 after three years of ownership
As with all the German cars, the A6 has variable intervals. A cost of £961 for three visits is similar to its rivals. Gaps between checks can be as long as 22,000 miles, too
The Audi’s 2.7-litre TDI emits more CO2 than its rivals. A figure of 222g/km places it in the top 35 per cent tax bracket, and means it will cost high-band owners £4,213 a year