Audi A6 Avant Review
The Audi A6 Avant is a very practical, very high-tech estate car that comes with a futuristic cabin and hybrid engines as standard, but most alternatives are more enjoyable to drive
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- Relaxing to drive
- Very practical
- Loads of high-tech features
What's not so good
- Alternatives more fun to drive
- Infotainment takes some getting used to
- Optional extras are quite expensive
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The Audi A6 Avant is a very practical large estate car with a roomy cabin that’s packed with plenty of high-tech features you won’t find in the likes of the BMW 5 Series Touring and Mercedes E-Class estate. It doesn’t come cheap, however…
Thankfully, most of the Audi A6 Avant’s fancy interior features come as standard. You get a futuristic dual-screen infotainment system and all the plush leather, soft plastic and glossy metal trims feel very nearly as upmarket as those in the more expensive A8 limo.
Reach down by the door bins and around the centre console and you’ll find a few more scratchy plastics than in the 5 Series Touring, but everything else in the A6 Avant’s cabin feels absolutely bulletproof.
There’s absolutely bucket loads of space in the front for tall drivers to stretch out and enough seat adjustment for people of all sizes to get a good view out. Space in the back is just as generous. There’s slightly more headroom than you get in the A6 saloon, so passengers over six-feet tall have enough space to stretch out behind equally tall drivers. The central rear seat isn’t quite as comfortable, but there’s still enough space for three passengers to sit side-by-side.
Unfortunately, the Audi A6 Avant’s practicality isn’t quite on a par with some alternatives, Sure, you can easily squeeze a few sets of golf clubs into its 565-litre boot and a bike will fit if you fold the back seats down, but both the BMW 5 Series Touring and Mercedes E-Class Estate have slightly more generous load bays.
The A6 Avant’s cabin looks very similar to the uber-posh A8’s. Turn around, however, and you’ll notice the Avant has a whopping great load bay the A8 can only dream of…
Unlike the BMW, the Audi A6 Avant doesn’t come with rear air suspension as standard to help iron out bumps when you’ve packed its boot to the brim. Thankfully, it’s still comfortable to drive with its standard suspension fitted, or can be had with adaptive air suspension for a wafty high-speed ride if you’re happy to pay a bit extra.
This is definitely an option you should consider if you plan on driving the Audi A6 Avant for long distances. Combine this with the smooth 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine in 50 TDI models and you’ve got yourself a quiet, relaxing and fairly efficient motorway cruiser.
The latter is thanks (in part) to the Audi A6 Avant’s standard mild-hybrid system. This uses a compact electric motor to assist the petrol or diesel engine when you’re accelerating and cruising to improve performance and reduce fuel consumption.
If you spend more time driving in town, however, you should check out the Audi A6 Avant’s optional four-wheel-steering system. This helps make it impressively manoeuvrable for such a large car and no more difficult to drive in a city than a medium-size hatchback.
Even without this feature, the Audi A6 Avant’s large windows and light steering mean it isn’t particularly tricky to drive in town, and you get a host of cameras and parking sensors across the range to make parking pretty stress-free, too.
Unfortunately, you have to hand over some extra cash for most of the A6 Avant’s driver-assistance technology, including automatic emergency braking that helps prevent low-speed collisions. That said, if you don’t mind paying extra for a few must-have features, the Audi A6 Avant makes an excellent upmarket estate car.
The Audi A6 Avant has one of the most generous cabins of any large estate car, but alternatives come with slightly more spacious boots
The Audi A6 Avant’s front seats are packed with plenty of support to help you get comfortable, and enough adjustment to let both taller and shorter drivers get a good view out. Legroom is excellent and you get adjustable lumbar support as standard to help prevent annoying backache on long journeys.
It’s not just the Audi A6 Avant’s front seats that are spacious enough for tall adults – there’s enough leg and headroom in the back for a six-foot-tall passenger to comfortably stretch out behind an equally tall driver. The back seats are soft and come with decent side support, and there’s plenty of space under the front seats for your passengers to tuck their feet, too.
It’s not all good news: the centre-rear seat is rather firm and raised above the outer two and there’s a very large lump in the floor that gets in the way of your middle passenger’s feet – especially when they’re climbing in and out. As a result, three passengers will be reasonably comfortable on long trips, providing you make sure your tallest friends sit in the outer two seats.
Thankfully, there’s more than enough room the carry three kids in the back at once, and the Audi A6 Avant’s large rear door openings make it easy to lean in and make sure they’re securely strapped in.
There’s ample space to lift in a bulky child seat, too, but the standard Isofix anchor points come with easy-to-lose removable plastic covers. That said, they’re just as easy to misplace in the BMW 5 Series Touring and Mercedes E-Class Estate.
The Audi A6 Avant’s interior doesn’t just look smart, it also comes with plenty of handy storage spaces to help you keep it looking factory fresh. All four door bins are large enough to hold a 1.5-litre bottle of water and there’s space in the glovebox for an extra 1.0-litre bottle.
There’s space for a phone and a wallet under the front central armrest, but that’s about it. You get two cupholders in the front under a folding cover and another two built into the folding rear armrest.
The Audi A6 Avant’s 565-litre boot is big, but it’s not quite as large as the BMW 5 Series Touring’s load bay and lags even further behind the capacious Mercedes E-Class Estate’s mammoth carrying capacity.
There’s still enough space for four large suitcases, two sets of golf clubs or a pair of large baby buggies, however. The boot opening is wide, low and almost completely flat so it’s a doddle to lift in very heavy items.
You get a few tether points to help secure smaller items and there’s an optional luggage net to help stop small bags sliding around when you’re driving. You’ll find a large storage tray with plenty of dividers under the boot floor, but it isn’t quite deep enough to hold a small soft bag or even a pair of shoes.
The Audi A6 Avant’s back seats fold down in a three-way (40:20:40) split so you can carry very long items poking through from the boot and two back-seat passengers at once.
With all the back seats folded down, the Audi A6 Avant’s boot grows to 1,680 litres – that’s slightly less than the 5 Series Touring can manage but, once again, significantly less than you can squeeze in the E-Class Estate.
There’s still enough space for a bike with both its wheels attached, however, and the seats fold using handy levers by the bootlid so you don’t have to lean forward and push them down yourself.
Whichever engine you pick, you get a mild-hybrid system as standard to cut down your fuel bill, but air suspension and four-wheel steering don’t come as standard on more affordable models
Don’t expect the Audi A6 Avant to be particularly fun to drive and you won’t be disappointed. It’s not very sporty – instead, it’s relaxing, comfortable and quiet
You can get the Audi A6 Avant with two diesel engines, although a petrol will be added to the range in due course. Both diesels come with an automatic gearbox and a neat hybrid system as standard, but the latter work away so quietly in the background that you’ll never notice it going about its fuel-saving business.
The more affordable 2.0-litre 40 TDI diesel produces 204hp and drives the front wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. It’s not particularly fast for a large estate car but still reaches 62mph from rest in a respectable 8.3 seconds. The four-cylinder engine is reasonably quiet when you accelerate hard and cruises very quietly at motorway speeds.
Unlike some dual-clutch units, the seven-speed automatic gearbox changes gear smoothly and responsively and doesn’t judder or lurch at slow speeds. Audi claims it’ll help the 40 TDI model return 62.8mpg, but we managed around 50mpg on a mix of town and country roads.
If you do lots of long motorway journeys, the more powerful 50 TDI is worth considering. This 3.0-litre V6 engine is noisier at idle, but just as smooth as the smaller four-cylinder in the 40 TDI model and still returns around 40mpg in normal driving conditions compared with Audi’s claimed 48.7mpg.
The 286hp 50 TDI model is noticeably faster than the 2.0-litre car, too, thanks – in part – to its smooth eight-speed automatic gearbox and grippy quattro four-wheel-drive system. Pin the accelerator away from a set of traffic lights and it’ll leap from 0-62mph in just 5.7 seconds.
You’ll soon be able to buy the Audi A6 Avant with a 2.0-litre petrol engine, too. This 45 TFSI model will be worth considering if you mainly do lots of short journeys around town. It’s smoother than the 40 TDI models and quieter when you accelerate hard but can’t match the fuel economy of the larger 50 TDI version.
Unlike some large estates, the Audi A6 Avant doesn’t try to thrill you at every opportunity. Instead, it focuses its efforts on being a comfortable and relaxing long-distance cruiser that’s happy to eat up motorway miles rather than twisting country roads. This is partly down to the car’s rather vague steering that – unlike in the BMW 5 Series Touring – doesn’t give you a particularly good idea of what the front wheels are up to.
Very little wind and tyre noise makes its way into the cabin at 70mph, though, and the Audi A6 Avant’s large windows and airy cabin mean you won’t have any trouble spotted traffic approaching at junctions.
There are four suspension types possible. Both the standard suspension on Sport models and stiffer setup on S line cars does a good job ironing out potholes, but you can pay an extra £2,000 for the optional air suspension if you fancy a more wafty experience at high speeds, even if the low-speed ride is more abrupt over potholes. At least the air suspension allows you to stop the A6’s body leaning too much in tight corners when you select Dynamic driving mode. We’re yet to try the adaptive version of the A6’s standard suspension.
Leave the countryside behind and head into town and you’ll find the Audi A6 Avant feels every inch of its imposing size. Thankfully, you can get it with a clever four-wheel steering system that helps make its turning circle no greater than that of a medium-sized family hatchback. There’s also an optional 360-degree camera system which displays a computer-generated image of the A6 Avant and its surroundings on the infotainment screen to help you avoid scraping its alloy wheels on tall kerbs.
Another feature worth paying extra for (especially if you do lots of city driving) is the optional City Assist pack. This enables the standard automatic emergency braking feature to work in reverse and even detects cars passing behind you when you pull out of a parking space.
Fork out for the bells-and-whistles Driver Assistance System, however, and you get five cameras hidden in the A6 Avant’s bodywork that constantly monitor your surroundings and help it steer, brake and accelerate for you on well-marked roads – providing you keep your hands on the steering wheel. It’s so clever in fact, that it’ll guide you through motorway roadworks.
These features don’t just make it very relaxing to drive, they also help make the A6 one of the safest large saloons on sale – in fact, Euro NCAP awarded the maximum five stars in its crash tests.
The Audi A6 Avant’s interior comes with high-tech touchscreens as standard, but they aren’t all that easy to use, and you have to pay extra for a slick digital driver’s display
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