"The Audi A6 Avant estate is practical, economical and fast, with enough room in the back for two adults and all their luggage."
It's true to say that very few estate cars are as desirable as the Audi A6 Avant. Its handsome exterior and stunning interior combine with lightweight construction to make it the fastest but most economical version of the Avant so far. Inside, it's luxurious and easy to use at the same time, with a vast array of optional extras available to create the perfect A6 Avant for you. However, these add-ons are expensive and you'll need to think twice if you don't want to see the list price sprial. There's a wide range of petrol and diesel engines on offer, too, including a 309bhp twin-turbo diesel that's fast but still highly economical, as well as the option of quattro four-wheel drive across the range. The Audi A6 Avant comes in three main specifications – entry-level SE, mid-range S line and top-of-the-range Black Edition.
MPG, running costs & CO2 emissions
The A6 Avant is made from aluminium, which means a reduction in weight that helps improve fuel efficiency. Thanks to this, even the top-of-the-range 3.0-litre TDI Black Edition diesel manages to return 54.3mpg and emit 136g/km of CO2, despite the fact that it goes from 0-62mph in 7.4 seconds up to a top speed of 155mph. However, get either the quattro or BiTDI quattro verions of the same car and economy drops to 47.9mpg and 44.8mpg, respectively, and emissions increase to 156 and 166g/km of CO2. Audi claims that 80 per cent of A6s sold are 2.0-litre diesels, of which the TDI S Line and TDI Black Edition are the most efficient, returning 56.5mpg in fuel economy and CO2 emissions of 132g/km. We’d recommend avoiding all petrol versions because the diesels are quiet and much more efficient. Servicing, insurance and general maintenance won’t be cheap on any model, though.
Interior & comfort
Standard-fit steel suspension and 17-inch alloy wheels on the basic SE model make for a very comfortable ride inside the A6 Avant. The interior is nicely insulated from any wind or road noise, with very little audible inside, while the comfy, supportive leather seats (also standard) prove very welcome on longer motorway drives. If you choose the sportier S line model, however, the addition of 18-inch alloys and lowered sports suspension makes the ride much firmer, with the car fidgeting around all the time – disturbing the ride for both driver and passengers. But then again, the more aggressive bumpers do look great, so, as ever it's a matter of priorities. You can bypass this issue by specifying the SE's softer suspension on the S line as a no-cost option and we think this is well worth doing. There's plenty of room in the back for two tall adults to sit comfortably, but be aware that the middle seat passenger will have to straddle a large bump in the floor, which makes matters decidedly uncomfortable.
Practicality & boot space
The current Audi A6 Avant is wider but shorter than the previous model, but there's actually more space in the back for two tall adults to sit comfortably. The boot offers 565 litres of space, which expands to a generous 1,680 litres when the split-folding rear seats are folded down flat. That's a little bit more capacity than in the Jaguar XF Sportbrake or the BMW 5 Series, but still lagging behind the massive boot in the Mercedes E-Class estate, which offers 1,950 litres. The boot does have a nice wide and low opening for easy loading, though, plus an automatic bootlid that you open by waving your foot underneath the rear bumper. You also get straps and lashing points that make it even more flexible for loose loads.
Reliability & safety
Audi climbed five places up the manufacturers ranking in the 2013 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, breaking back into the top 10 ahead of fellow premium carmarker BMW but behind fifth-placed Mercedes. The current Audi A6 made its debut in the 2013 poll, entering the top 100 cars list at a reasonable (if hardly distinguished) 27th place, just above the Mercedes C-Class. So, while the A6 may not be standing out particularly, there's still no reason to doubt that it will be a very reliable car, given Audi's well-earned reputation for build quality. All components and engines used across the range are tried and tested, including the seven-speed S tronic automatic gearbox, and have already proven to be reliable in other models, such as the Audi A4 saloon and Audi A8 limousine. No major faults have been reported so far, either. It also secured the full five-star rating in the Euro NCAP crash safety tests, coming fitted with six airbags and electronic stability control as standard equipment, with optional extras including lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring and rear side airbags.
Engines, drive & performance
The A6 Avant is at its best cruising along the motorway, which perfectly complements the extra practicality that comes with buying an estate car. It doesn’t feel as agile on winding roads as a BMW 5 Series, with the steering not offering as much feedback as it could, but it always feels reassuring and secure. It's an easier car to drive than the old model, due in part to the clever aluminium construction, which makes most A6 Avants (except the quattro versions) lighter than rivals such as the Mercedes E-Class estate. It strikes a good balance between performance and comfort, with even the entry-level 175bhp 2.0-litre diesel offering sufficient pace for most drivers, while the 3.0-litre diesel and turbo petrol cars are very fast indeed. The TFSI petrol V6 in particular is hugely refined and powerful, but the diesels are undeniably cheaper to run.
Price, value for money & options
All Audi A6 Avant models come well stocked with equipment and accessories, with even entry-level SE models coming fitted with Bluetooth connectivity, sat-nav, dual-zone climate control, parking sensors and leather seats as standard. As you go up the specifications, things like electric sports seats and bigger bumpers are also included. We’d exercise caution when presented with the extensive options list, however, because tempting extras such as night vision, a head-up display, an upgraded voice and touch-operated sat-nav, DAB radio, high-quality Bang and Olufsen stereo and a TV will very quickly add thousands of pounds to your price, with a full raft sky rocketing it past £60,000. But if you choose a diesel A6 then you should find that the resale values in the used car market are strong, as diesel engines are always popular when sold second hand.