Audi A6 Avant estate - Interior & comfort

Technology from the flagship A8 gives the Audi A6 Avant a class-leading interior

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The Audi A6 Avant has traditionally trailed its rivals when it comes to ride smoothness, but the latest model is right in contention with the best in class – as long as you avoid the biggest alloy wheels. On 18-inch wheels it's adept at absorbing bumps, and even better on the optional air suspension. However, the sportier S line, with its 20-inch wheels, judders uncomfortably over potholes.

Few ever criticised the previous A6 for its interior design, but the latest model has made a lot of progress here, too. It shares much of its layout with the Audi A8 flagship, and in doing so, sets a new standard for the executive estate class. Not only does it look impeccable inside, but the technology on offer is comprehensive and works intuitively. Remarkably, the materials used are even better than before, and quality is beyond reproach.

Audi A6 Avant dashboard

While it might be somewhat conservative, there's no denying that the swathes of aluminium and leather trim adorning the Avant's interior look and feel fantastic. There are very few buttons on the dashboard, because most functions are now taken care of by the steering wheel or infotainment system, whose eight-inch screen seems invisible until switched on, disguised by being set into a glossy piano-black panel.

Audi has abandoned its previous rotary controller in favour of MMI Touch, which provides a click or vibration via 'haptic feedback' to confirm when you've made a command on the touchscreen. It's about as user-friendly as touchscreens get, but still unintuitive to use without taking your eyes from the road. Fortunately, you can also use your voice, and no longer need to stick to rigid commands, because the voice-recognition software is now advanced enough to try understanding what you mean.

The optional Technology Pack brings a 'Virtual Cockpit' instrument panel that can show full-colour navigation maps in conjunction with the top MMI Plus navigation option, which boosts infotainment screen size to 10.1 inches. There's also a smaller display panel to control the car's convenience features and climate control. You can input text on the lower screen while resting your wrist on the gear selector.

Equipment

There are three trim levels, but it's possible to create exactly the A6 Avant you want thanks to a serious number of options. The Sport grade is hardly anaemic, though, with 18-inch wheels, leather and heated seats, dual-zone climate control and a rear-view camera. On the Avant, the tailgate is also power-operated. The infotainment system has an 8.8-inch upper and 8.6-inch lower screen, sat-nav, DAB and Bluetooth.

S line largely offers design upgrades, upping the wheel size to 19 inches while lowering the suspension by 10mm and adding more aggressive bodywork. The sports seats are trimmed in Alcantara and leather, while the headliner is black and there are touches like a sports steering wheel and stainless-steel pedals. At night, drivers will notice the Matrix LED headlights, which automatically adjust to other road users and the conditions, to provide the best visibility without dazzling anyone.

Black Edition cars also feature a flat-bottomed leather steering wheel, privacy glass, 20-inch bi-colour alloy wheels and a handful of black styling details.

Options

Be warned, it's very easy to add another £10,000 to the price of your A6 Avant if you get carried away with the options list. Unless you're happy with Brilliant Black or Ibis White, you'll need to spend around £700 for metallic paint. The chassis can be upgraded to include adjustable dampers and the 50 TDI can be equipped with air suspension and four-wheel steering to make it more agile. Adding Matrix LED headlights to the Sport trim costs just over £1,500.

Audi also groups lots of equipment into packs to help keep things simple. Choose the Comfort & Sound Pack if a 360-degree camera view, Bang & Olufsen stereo, LED ambient lighting and keyless entry sound appealing for just under £2,000. The Technology Pack is also likely to be popular, adding MMI Navigation Plus (with a 10.1-inch main screen), Virtual Cockpit instrument cluster and wireless phone charging for £1,500.

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