Audi A6 Avant estate
Price £33,955 - £58,000
- Comfortable on the motorway
- Fuel-efficient diesels
- Desirable image
- Expensive options
- BMW 5 Series is more fun to drive
- Firm suspension on S line models
At a glance
"The Audi A6 Avant estate is practical, economical and fast, with enough room in the back for two adults and all their luggage."
Very few estate cars are as desirable as the Audi A6 Avant. Its handsome exterior and stunning interior combine with lightweight materials to make it the fastest yet most economical version of the Avant so far. In fact, Audi has recently introduced the Audi A6 Ultra model, which is even cheaper to run yet costs no more to buy than the old 2.0-litre TDI diesel. Towards the end of 2014, Audi also tweaked the A6's design, to keep it fresh and renew its appeal among company car and private buyers.
Inside, all models are luxurious and easy to use, with a vast array of optional extras available to create the perfect Audi 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 to more than £50,000.
There's a wide range of engines on offer, too, including a twin-turbo BiTDI diesel that's fast but still highly fuel-efficient, as well as the option of quattro four-wheel drive on almost every model. As of 2014, Audi has removed the slow-selling Hybrid from the range, in favour of an all-diesel set-up. If you really want a petrol-powered Audi A6, you'll need to step-up to the high-performance S6 or RS6 versions.
The Audi A6 Avant comes in three main specifications – entry-level SE, mid-range S line and top-of-the-range Black Edition, with even basic cars boasting sat-nav, leather and four-zone climate control.
MPG, running costs & CO2
The Audi A6 Ultra diesel model can return up to 64mpg but general maintenance is pricey
The Audi A6 Avant is made from aluminium, which keeps the weight down and so improves fuel efficiency. Even the top-of-the-range 3.0-litre twin-turbo BiTDI Black Edition diesel manages to return 53mpg and emit 144g/km of CO2, despite the fact that it goes from 0-62mph in 5.7 seconds and has a top speed of 155mph. However, the mind-boggling number is its 855-mile range – meaning you could realistically travel from London to Prague on a single tank of diesel.
However, it's the brilliant 2.0-litre TDI Ultra that steals the headlines. It's capable of a whopping 64mpg and will emit just 114g/km of CO2, when mated to the well-equipped SE specification and brilliant S tronic automatic gearbox. The bigger wheels on the S line and Black Edition models penalise fuel economy – but only very slightly. Audi claims that 80% of A6s sold are 2.0-litre diesels, and the new Audi A6 Ultra model should strenghten that trend.
As of late 2014, Audi has removed all petrol engines from the line-up, in favour of a strong range of TDI diesels. If you really want a petrol-powered Audi, you'll need to step up to the super-quick S6 or RS6 Avant.
Insurance and general maintenance won’t be particularly cheap for any A6, but residual values are strong and there's a decent range of fixed-price service plans. These start at as little as £159 for 2.0-litre models, to £375 for the bigger-engined cars.
Engines, drive & performance
The A6 Avant is a quiet and accomplished motorway cruiser, especially on the standard suspension
The Audi 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 body, which makes most A6 Avants (except the quattro versions) lighter than rivals such as the Mercedes E-Class estate.
The Avant 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 turbocharged petrol cars are very fast indeed. The TFSI petrol V6 in particular is hugely powerful and refined, but the diesels are significantly cheaper to run.
Interior & comfort
Audi A6 SE models have comfortable suspension, but S line models are firm
Standard steel suspension and 17-inch alloy wheels on the basic SE model make for a very comfortable ride inside the Audi A6 Avant. The interior is nicely insulated from any wind or road noise, while the comfortable, 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 alloy wheels and lowered sports suspension makes the ride much firmer. The car fidgets around a lot, disturbing the ride for both driver and passengers. But the S line's more aggressive bumpers do look great, so it really comes down to your 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 has to straddle a large bump in the floor, leaving little room for their feet.
Practicality & boot space
The Audi A6 Avant's boot is very spacious and versatile
The current Audi A6 Avant is wider yet 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 dropped down flat. That's a little bit more capacity than either the Jaguar XF Sportbrake or BMW 5 Series Touring offers, but lags behind the massive boot in the Mercedes E-Class estate, which can hold 1,950 litres. The boot does have a nice wide and low opening for easy loading, plus an automatic bootlid that opens when you wave your foot underneath the rear bumper. You also get straps and lashing points that make it even more flexible when carrying smaller loose loads, such as shopping bags.
Reliability & safety
The Audi A6 uses tried-and-tested components from other models in the range
Audi climbed five places up the manufacturer rankings in the 2013 Driver Power customer-satisfaction survey, breaking back into the top 10 ahead of fellow prestige brand BMW, but behind fifth-placed Mercedes. The current Audi A6 made its debut in the 2013 poll, entering the top 100 cars list in a reasonable 27th place, just above the Mercedes C-Class. So, while the A6 isn't a stand-out performer, there’s still no reason to doubt that it'll be a very reliable car, given Audi’s well deserved 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. The Audi A6 Avant also secured the full five-star rating in the Euro NCAP crash-safety tests. All models have six airbags and electronic stability control as standard, with optional extras including lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring and rear side airbags also available.
Price, value for money & options
Tempting options can cause the Audi A6's list price to skyrocket
All Audi A6 Avant models come with plenty of equipment and accessories, with even entry-level SE models sporting a Bluetooth phone connection, sat-nav, four-zone climate control, parking sensors and leather seats as standard. As you go up the range, things like electric sports seats and bigger bumpers are also included.
You should be careful when presented with the extensive options list, however, because tempting gadgets such as night vision, a head-up display, upgraded voice recognition, a high-quality Bang and Olufsen stereo and a TV will very quickly add thousands of pounds to the price.
All Audis tend to enjoy strong residual values, and an Audi A6 Avant diesel will hold its value particularly well on the second-hand market in years to come.