Audi A6 Avant review
A rival to the BMW 5 Series Touring and Mercedes E-Class Estate, it's available with the same choice of engines and gearboxes as the A6 saloon, which went on sale earlier this year.
The new Avant is virtually the same size as its predecessor and comes with more standard equipment.
However, Audi has managed to make it roomier by stretching the wheelbase, and lighter by using aluminium instead of steel for around 20% of the body.
What's it like to drive? The Avant feels planted on the motorway and grippy in corners.
Light steering makes it easy to manoeuvre in town and the standard suspension is pretty well judged; body movements are tightly controlled, and although the ride can be a little unsettled, it's never harsh.
Upgrade to S line trim (or specify an SE car with the £410 sports suspension package) and the car is lowered by 20mm so there's even less body roll in bends. Unfortunately, this set-up also makes the ride overly firm.
An even firmer set-up is available as a no-cost option on S line models. Alternatively, Audi offers the standard SE suspension (it's another no-cost option) for those who like the sportier looks of S line models, but don't want to feel every imperfection in the road.
Air suspension, which lets you change the ride height and firmness to suit different road conditions, is available on both SE and S line cars, but it's a pricey option, costing £2000.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment is the amount of road noise that enters the Avant's cabin, no matter what suspension set-up you choose.
The entry-level engine is a four-cylinder 2.0-litre diesel, and this is the pick of the range. Not only is it flexible and refined, but it averages 56.5mpg and attracts a lowly 19% company car tax rating – the equivalent 5 Series is taxed at 20% and the E-Class at 23%.
As you'd expect, the 3.0-litre diesel – which is available in 201bhp front-wheel-drive and 242bhp quattro forms – is even stronger and smoother, but running costs will be significantly higher than they are for the 2.0-litre.
The line-up is completed by a 3.0-litre turbo petrol that makes little sense unless you absolutely despise diesel. In February, a new twin-turbo 3.0-litre diesel that gives the Avant serious performance (0-62mph in just 5.4 seconds).
What's it like inside? The boot is well shaped and there are lots of practical touches, including straps, lashing points and an optional hands-free opening system that raises the tailgate when you wave a foot beneath the rear bumper.
While carrying capacity is slightly up on the previous A6 Avant and the 5 Series Touring, though, it's still well behind the E-Class Estate's, whether the rear seats are up or down.
The cabin is harder to fault because there's generous head- and legroom for four, plus it's beautifully finished, and all the switchgear operates with slick precision.
Most systems are controlled by selecting from onscreen menus using a central dial and a small collection of buttons – a process that's pretty simple once you get the hang of it.
However, the driving position could be better on cars with a manual gearbox because the pedals are offset to the right.
Should I buy one? An E-Class Estate is a more practical choice and a 5 Series Touring a more refined one, but there's still a lot to like about the new A6 Avant.
It has a spacious and classy cabin that's a joy to spend time in, and is available with a range of strong and fuel-efficient engines. What's more, prices are competitive, and every version comes with leather upholstery, dual-zone climate control and sat-nav.
The A6 Avant is definitely worth considering if you're in the market for a big, premium estate.
BMW 5 Series Touring
Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate
What Car? says…