Sleek and spacious sporting estate with a host of high tech
Estate cars used to be utilitarian vehicles, bought by owners or commercial travellers who needed to transport large or bulky loads. Not any longer; the latest-generation Avant is Audi’s estate version of the A6 saloon and it’s every bit as desirable as well as being even more versatile. Fast, sleek, spacious and flexible, it’s a brilliant all-rounder.
The A6 Avant shares the new singleframe Audi grille of its saloon sibling along with the sharp new LED headlights. The long front end and gently sloping roofline give it a sleek, coupé-like profile which is emphasised by the elongated silhouette and trapezoidal window surfaces. The roofline ends with a low-profile D-pillar that extends into the muscular rear wheel arches, a nod to the design of Audi’s original quattro sports coupés. At the rear, a decorative trim links the rear lights. Audi claims that the A6 Avant’s shape makes it highly efficient at cutting through the air, with a drag co-efficient of just 0.27.
The main difference compared with the A6 saloon comes in the load space; the A6 Avant has 565 litres of luggage capacity with the seats up and a full 1680 litres when they’re folded down. The seats can be folded 40:20:60 and both the tailgate and luggage compartment cover operate electrically.
Inside, as with the A6 saloon, the interior of the Avant features stylish, minimalist architecture and carefully-crafted materials. Switchgear is minimised and the MMI controller has been dropped in favour of dual touchscreens.
The A6 Avant comes to the UK with a choice of three engines. The 40 TDI diesel is powered by a four-cylinder diesel, produces 204bhp and features an eight-speed Tiptronic auto box. Next up the ladder is a 282bhp V6 3.0 diesel badged 50 TDI, while the range is topped by the 3.0 V6 55 TSFI petrol developing 335bhp. Both the diesel and petrol V6 models come with the 7-speed dual-clutch S-tronic transmission.
All models feature mild hybrid technology that allows the engine to cut out and in seamlessly and harvest energy used in braking, contributing to a useful improvement in fuel economy and reduction in emissions across the range. Quattro all-wheel drive is standard across the range.
Optional four-wheel steering gives the Avant extra agility in handling along with improved manoeuvrability at parking speeds or in tight spots. Four suspension options are available, starting with the standard steel springs, with sports suspension, shock absorber control and adaptive air suspension as options.
The A6 Avant features Audi’s new MMI interface, which scraps the rotary controller in favour of a pair of large touchscreens. The top display focuses on infotainment, while the lower one allows the user to create up to 27 individual shortcuts for the key vehicle functions, such as phone numbers, radio stations or navigation destinations, moving them around as on a smartphone app screen to create a personalised display. When using the touchscreen, haptic and acoustic feedback give a click as confirmation as soon as your finger triggers a function.
The A6 Avant, like the saloon, comes with 39 interconnected systems for driver safety and semi-autonomous control. These systems include adaptive cruise assist, which besides adaptive cruise control and the predictive efficiency assist also includes a new feature, bottleneck assist for traffic jams. Audi active lane assist helps keep the vehicle in lane with gentle steering intervention, while emergency assist can bring the vehicle to a stop in an emergency and make an emergency call. All these functions are controlled by the central driver assistance controller, which co-ordinates input from up to five radar sensors, five cameras for visible light and an infrared camera for the night vision assist, twelve ultrasonic sensors and a laser scanner.
Verdict: However you define ‘cool’, the A6 Avant has it. It’s capable of transporting family, luggage and sports kit on an extended continental holiday swiftly, comfortably and efficiently. All-wheel drive makes it reassuringly sure-footed in poor weather. Yet it’s also a handsome addition to the director’s car park when holidays are over. If you think you need an SUV, Audi makes several excellent ones – but treat yourself to an A6 Avant test drive first.