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
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.
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
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.