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First drive: Audi A6 Avant. Image by Audi.

First drive: Audi A6 Avant
Audi's top diesel A6 Avant majors in design and quality of finish, but...

 



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Audi A6 Avant

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5

Following on from the new saloon, the Audi A6 Avant estate offers higher levels of practicality and load carrying capacity while retaining an eye-catching design. It maintains a sporty bias to its look, and while that means it can't carry any more than its predecessor, there are several other areas where it improves upon the last generation.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Audi A6 50 TDI S line
Pricing: 53,550 as tested; starts at 40,740
Engine: 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbodiesel
Transmission: eight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Body style: five-door estate
CO2 emissions: 147g/km (VED Band 131-150: 200 in year one)
Combined economy: 49.5mpg
Top speed: 155mph
0-62mph: 5.7 seconds
Power: 286hp at 3,500-4,000rpm
Torque: 620Nm at 2,250-3,000rpm
Boot space: 565-1,680 litres

What's this?

This is the latest version of Audi's A6 Avant estate, in its range-topping diesel form. The 3.0-litre turbocharged V6, badged '50 TDI' (yes, we still struggle to get our heads around this unconventional naming system), gets the quattro all-wheel-drive transmission. It primarily goes into battle with the BMW 5 Series Touring and Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate, though we'd also throw Jaguar's XF Sportbrake and the Volvo V90 into the mix.

On a practical level, this A6 Avant matches its predecessor when it comes to cargo capacity, but a desire from the designers to give the estate a sportier appearance has resulted in a rear window that is more angled, so, at 565 litres, it only just betters the V90, which also suffers from the same design influenced limitations. If space is of greater importance look towards the 5 Series or E-Class, as both offer more.

Where the Audi has fewer rivals is the quality of the A6's interior. Any owners of past A6s will revel in the new interior design that takes a significant step forward. The multiple displays seen in the range-topping A7, A8 and Q8 models are found here too. All models get an 8.8-inch screen on the upper section of the centre console, with a second, 8.6-inch unit, below. This contains the climate controls and doubles as a large touchpad upon which you can search for contacts or input location names by writing freehand with your finger. Optionally, buyers can upgrade the top screen to a 10.1-inch display and can also choose to have the 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit instrument cluster installed.

How does it drive?

Perhaps it's the increasing difficulty in making modern diesel engines compliant with tightening emissions regulations, but this 3.0-litre V6 doesn't have the same sheen that previous versions enjoyed. We were big fans of the previous generation's twin-turbocharged engine, but in this latest A6, the engine's refined mask slips too easily when you begin to ask more of it.

With 620Nm on tap, there is no lack of torque, but the delivery of said shove doesn't come with the buttery smoothness of past large capacity diesel engines. As the tacho needle winds around, you hear the engine working harder, and it's not always nice. We wouldn't say that the A6 lacks refinement, but Audi seems to pack more sound-deadening material into the larger A7 and A8 models.

The eight-speed Tiptronic gearbox doesn't enjoy being hustled either, and it is quickly shown up by the slicker twin-clutch eight-speed unit that the smaller 2.0-litre diesel is paired up with. Not that it's crude in how it shifts between ratios, it just doesn't react as quickly as the dual-clutch automatic transmission.

All A6 models get mild hybrid treatment, but the six-cylinder engined versions like this 50 TDI get a 48-volt system with a 10Ah lithium-ion battery in the rear of the car. This setup allows for engine-off coasting between 34- and 99mph for up to 40 seconds. A water-cooled belt alternator starter (BAS) is used to restart the engine with almost imperceptible smoothness. The system isn't likely to make any significant dent in your fuel bill, as it takes about 20 minutes to give another full 40-second burst. Energy is recuperated to the battery during braking and slow coasting. The start-stop phase begins from a moderately higher 13mph and restarts more smoothly than before, too.

For the most part, the optional adaptive air suspension provides a smooth ride. On a motorway it shines, adding to the comfort of the interior. There are times, on more challenging roads, where sudden bumps or direction changes can unsettle the A6's composure. We didn't find this happening as noticeably in other versions using the standard passive suspension. Despite being an estate, the A6 still has an agile feel to how it behaves and handles on a variety of different roads.

Audi offers its Dynamic All Wheel Steering hardware as an option. If you tend to spend a higher proportion of time in and out of car parks and tight city or town confines, then it is worth considering. It can shave around three feet from a turning circle by angling the rear wheels in the opposite direction to the fronts. Conversely, at high speeds, the rear wheels turn in phase with the fronts for more direct and stable lane changes on the motorway, for example.

Verdict

From the perspective of overall practicality, the Audi A6 Avant doesn't take home top honours in the segment, but it remains a car that has high levels of desirability, mostly for its design inside and out. The 3.0-litre V6 diesel driven here ought to be the best setup for the car, but it is overshadowed by the 2.0-litre front-wheel-drive version, which is good news for business users for whom that car will be the more logical choice.

4 4 4 4 4 Exterior Design

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Interior Ambience

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Passenger Space

3 3 3 3 3 Luggage Space

4 4 4 4 4 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Driving Dynamics

3 3 3 3 3 Powertrain


Dave Humphreys - 5 Sep 2018









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2018 Audi A6 Avant. Image by Audi.2018 Audi A6 Avant. Image by Audi.2018 Audi A6 Avant. Image by Audi.2018 Audi A6 Avant. Image by Audi.2018 Audi A6 Avant. Image by Audi.

2018 Audi A6 Avant. Image by Audi.2018 Audi A6 Avant. Image by Audi.2018 Audi A6 Avant. Image by Audi.2018 Audi A6 Avant. Image by Audi.2018 Audi A6 Avant. Image by Audi.








 

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