For years Audi’s Avant range has provided classy, practical transportation for families throughout European markets. The A6 is the largest estate car that Audi offers, and the Avant is the best selling executive estate on the market.
The current A6 has been on sale since 2012, and was face-lifted late last year — but with rivals such as the BMW 5 Series Touring and Mercedes E-Class Estate nearing replacement, the Audi will find it tougher than ever to woo buyers away from those cars plus the plethora of SUVs that a lot of people favour.
Audis in general have been criticised for being more reserved in the looks department than rivals, and in fact their predecessors too. Previous A6 in particular have been rather striking as far as Audis go, so it’s a little disappointing that the car lacks any real details to distinguish it from the A4 and A8.
That said, it’s not an ugly car by any means, and the clean lines and simple detailing do mean that the A6 will likely age better than its rivals — certainly 10 year old examples of the previous A6 Avant still look classy. A recent facelift changed the A6’s front lights a little, but not so much that it dates the pre-facelift cars by any noticeable way.
The Avant in particular is reminiscent of Audis SUVs, and arguably it’s the Q7 and its ilk that are also a fierce competitor for the car. The A6 Avant offers a more subtle alternative to an SUV, while in S-Line trim, retaining the sporty and aggressive detailing that buyers seem to like.
The Avant is also available in Allroad specification, which adds a more SUV-inspired look. Chunkier bumpers, plastic cladding and skid panels all give the Avant a more distinctive look for those looking for something a little more subtle than SUVs but more overtly off-road than the standard model.
It seems unimaginative to say that Audi produce some of the best interiors of any cars, but there is a lot of truth to it! The general design is elegant and clearly premium, and the interiors from rivals simply aren’t just as nice — BMWs tend to be a little more generic, and although the latest Mercedes interiors are simply special, the tacked on screens and chrome accents are a little much.
All of the controls have a nice dampened feel, and the infotainment screen rises gracefully (and automatically) from behind the air vents. Audi’s MMI is one of the best infotainment systems on the market, and the A6 has a large dial and touchpad for user inputs. Admittedly this isn’t the latest version of the system (complete with full LCD instrument panel), but it’s still pretty sharp and more than a match for certain other systems.
There’s plenty of room for 4 passengers to travel in comfort, but the large-ish centre transmission tunnel means that a 3rd rear passenger may find legroom a little cramped, especially in Quattro versions. Thankfully there’s 565-litres of boot space to cope with loads of luggage, which is well shaped, even if not the largest on the market.
As with other Audis, the A6 is neither the most entertaining or most comfortable vehicle on the market, but neither is it particularly bad in either category. Steering is accurate and nicely weighted, but it’s maybe a little bit predictable when compared to the BMW 5 Series.
The ride on recent Audis has improved quite notably in recent generations, and as long as the sports suspension of S-Line models is left unchecked on the spec sheet that’s still the case. There is optional air-suspension, but realistically standard springs will be fine for most drivers, and there’s always adaptive drive even without it.
Front wheel drive is standard on 4-cylinder engined A6s, but Quattro all-wheel-drive is optional, and standard on 3.0-litre versions. The system gives the A6 more grip in everyday driving and added security and safety in less perfect road conditions. The Allroad variant gets air suspension and Quattro as standard, but aside from a slightly higher ride height there isn’t much diference.
There’s a good number of engines available with the Audi A6 Avant, it just depends on what you want from your new estate car and how much fuel economy concerns you. Of course diesels are the most popular choice in the UK, but there’s a couple of petrol options for those who want a performance A6.
The base engine option is a 2.0-litre diesel with 187hp, that’s a reasonable amount for a car of this size and with the standard 6-speed manual it can get from 0-60mph in just 8.7 seconds, or 8.5 seconds with the optional 7-speed automatic. Quattro is optional and shouldn’t change any of the performance figures for the Avant.
There is then a series of 3.0-litre diesels, with either 218hp or 272hp. The latter is only available with Quattro and can sprint to 60mph in just 5.7 seconds. The less powerful variant does the same sprint in 7.3 seconds, or 6.8 seconds if Quattro is added. On top of this there is a BiTurbo 3.0-litre diesel, whose 316hp can get from 0-60mph in a quick 5.2 seconds. The A6 Allroad is only available with the 3.0-litre engines, and is generally a couple of milliseconds slower.
Petrol lovers are restricted to either the S6 Avant, or blisteringly hot RS6 Avant. The S6 has an impressive 4.0-litre turbocharged V8 with 444hp, and does the 0-60mph sprint in 4.4 seconds. The RS6 comes in two power levels and also has a 4.0-litre turbo V8 — the 560hp version does 0-60mph in 3.9 seconds, and the performance version has 605hp and can do it in 3.7 seconds…wow.
Running and purchase costs for the A6 Avant vary quite significantly depending on which engine you chose. The most economical variant is the 2.0-litre diesel with front wheel drive and automatic gearbox — it returns 64.2mpg. The manual version gets 62.8mpg, and the automatic version with Quattro returns 55.4mpg. Tax is just £30 a year for the front-wheel-drive versions, and £130 for the Quattro.
All 3.0-litre engines have the automatic, and the front-wheel drive 218hp version returns an impressive 62.8mpg. Add Quattro and you get the same 55.4mpg as you get in the 2.0-litre Quattro version. Up the ante to the 272hp version and you get 53.3mpg, and the BiTurbo car has a different 8-speed automatic (as opposed to a 7-speed dual clutch transmission), and gets a slightly more disappointing 45.6mpg. Tax for the front-wheel-drive 3.0 diesel is £30, £180 for the BiTurbo and £130 for the others. Allroad versions get around 2mpg less, and are £15 more a year to tax.
Petrol versions are obviously more expensive to run, the S6 gets 30.4mpg, and impressively both versions of the RS6 get 29.4mpg — both cost £290 to tax. They are also more expensive to buy, the S6 is £58,545 and the RS6 varies between £79,085 and £86,000.
Prices for a diesel A6 Avant start at £34,345 for a 2.0-litre SE manual. An automatic adds around £1500, and the same amount again adds Quattro. Popular S-line trim adds £2,500, and another £2,000 will nab you the cool-looking Black Edition, so £42,355 gets you a 2.0-litre Black Edition Quattro automatic.
The cheapest 3.0-litre car is £40,485, and S-Line and the Black Editions are priced at similar premiums as with the smaller engine, the same with Quattro. The 272hp 3.0-litre car is priced from £43,805, but does get Quattro as standard, so in reality the premium is around £1,800 more…not bad considering the performance boost. The BiTurbo is an eye-watering £5,000 or so more, and tops out at £53,330.
The Allroad only comes in standard or Sport guises, direct comparisons are tricky, but priced between £45,755 and £55,875 it’s generally £2,000-£3,000 more than the standard A6 Avant. Of course there’s plenty of potential to raise the price of all these models sky high with a lengthy options list.
On the whole the Audi A6 Avant is a throughly quality and classy executive estate car. It may not be the most exciting choice out there, but that’s not what the average estate car buyer is looking for — they want understated looks, a quality interior and plenty of practical touches, and that’s what the A6 Avant offers.
Most buyers will be best off with the excellent 2.0-litre diesel with Quattro, but those after a bit more poke should spring for the more powerful 3.0-litre 272hp diesel, as it offers hot-hatch baiting performance without many penalties, barring purchase price.
The Allroad variant is good enough for Prince Charles, so should be good enough for those after a capable, yet subtle, alternative to a luxury SUV. But on the whole it strikes as pretty expensive, when it’s no more capable than the standard model and doesn’t even look too different.