Audi A6 Avant estate - Engines, drive & performance

The smaller of the two Audi A6 Avant engines puts in a surprise performance, making it our pick

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The A6 Avant is now in its eighth generation, so it's perhaps no surprise Audi knows how customers want its big estate cars to drive. There's a supple and sophisticated feel to the way the Avant travels along the road, cocooning its occupants from the outside world.

Audi A6 Avant diesel engines

There are some surprises, though, and the biggest comes with the 2.0-litre 40 TDI engine. Rather than just being a slave to emissions targets, it's actually more responsive, smoother and better to drive than the more powerful, more expensive 50 TDI.

With 202bhp, the 40 TDI has plenty of performance for most families, providing an 8.3-second dash from 0-62mph. It's no noisier than the six-cylinder engine at speed, and if you put your foot down it responds faster than the 3.0-litre, too.

That's highly unexpected considering the latter's larger size and 284bhp power output, and can be attributed to the different gearboxes that both engines come with. While the 2.0-litre is paired with a snappy seven-speed dual-clutch S tronic automatic, the V6 sends its power to a traditional automatic, which doesn't respond anything like as swiftly. While not as sporty in feel, the 50 TDI does prove the smoother engine, and fades to a hum at speed.

No A6 Avant offers a lot of feel through its steering, but less weight over its front wheels means the front-wheel-drive 40 TDI also feels lighter and more nimble, and the A6 range as a whole handles better than its predecessor. Indeed, from behind the wheel it feels more athletic than you'd ever expect a traditional estate car to bet. Driving enthusiasts will still find it a little less engaging than a BMW 5 Series Touring, but it's now a much closer fight.

Petrol engines

The A6 Avant is also available with two petrol engines, badged 45 TFSI and 55 TFSI. Just like the diesels, the line-up consists of a four-cylinder 2.0-litre engine and a six-cylinder 3.0-litre engine, which produce 242bhp and 335bhp respectively. 0-62mph times of 6.2 and 5.3 seconds impress - the latter is faster than many hot hatches - but the downside is that these engines are thirstier than their diesel counterparts.

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