What Car? says...
Many modern estate cars are so-called ‘lifestyle' models – which essentially means they have sleek looks and a posh badge, but are more suited to transporting terriers than wolfhounds. Not the Audi A6 Avant, though.
True, it is blessed with handsome looks and an upmarket badge, but because it’s based on the Audi A6 luxury saloon, it’s also a big and genuinely practical choice. There are two petrols and one diesel engine to choose from, plus a petrol plug-in hybrid (PHEV).
Of course, the A6 Avant isn’t the only big, posh estate car out there. So, over the next few pages we’ll tell you how it compares with its rivals – including the BMW 5 Series Touring and the Mercedes E-Class Estate – as we cover how it drives, how luxurious it feels inside, how practical it is and more.
We’ll also investigate how large a hole it’ll leave in your bank balance (because we’re sensible like that). Read on to find out everything you need to know about the Audi A6 Avant...
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
The entry-level 2.0-litre diesel Audi A6 Avant (badged 40 TDI) is a tad slow off the mark, but only because its standard seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox hesitates when you put your foot down.
Once you're rolling and the gearbox has woken up, the A6 Avant is plenty brisk enough and will outperform the BMW 520d Touring in a 30-70mph sprint.
If you prefer a petrol engine, you have two options: the 201bhp 2.0-litre 40 TFSI and a 261bhp version of the same engine, called the 45 TFSI. They manage 0-62mph in 7.5 and 6.2 seconds respectively. We'd stick with the 40 TFSI because it feels plenty punchy enough, even when the car is fully loaded with people and luggage.
There's also a PHEV – the 50 TFSIe – which responds the most enthusiastically when you ask for a burst of acceleration, thanks to plentiful electrical assistance.
Even when you're running in fully electric mode, its petrol engine springs into life quite quickly to help out, and the 0-62mph time of 6.3 seconds is plenty fast enough. It’s just a shame its official range of up to 39 miles (expect 25-30 miles in the real world) falls somewhat short of the 62 miles offered by a Mercedes E-Class Estate PHEV.
Suspension and ride comfort
If you go for entry-level Sport trim you'll get regular suspension, while S line and Black Edition models have a lower and stiffer sports set-up.
Both deliver a supple enough ride over large bumps, such as sleeping policemen, but tend to thump over sharper-edged scars and potholes.
The stiffer sports suspension tends to jostle you around a bit more at motorway speeds, but the difference isn't dramatic.
While the Audi A6 Avant doesn’t scythe through bends with the precision of a BMW 5 Series Touring or Jaguar XF Sportbrake, it mostly handles predictably and securely.
We say "mostly", because while it generates plenty of grip through the bends, its steering doesn't stream a great deal of feedback to your fingertips and it tends to suffer from a noticeable amount of body lean.
Noise and vibration
All of the A6 Avant’s engines provide a generally hushed driving experience – exactly what you’d hope for in a car of this kind.
In fact, for a four-cylinder diesel, the 40 TDI is one of the best in the business, proving quieter than those in the 520d Touring and the E220d Estate, particularly around town or when getting up to motorway speeds. The PHEV even better, although it's not silent in electric-only mode: you hear a bit of motor whine.
You might notice a few engine vibrations through the pedals and steering wheel of the diesel, but the A6 Avant keeps road and wind noise to a minimum. The suspension noise is more noticeable than in rivals, though.
The seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox can be slightly jerky when parking or in stop-start traffic. By contrast, the PHEV shifts smoothly, and switches between petrol and electric power almost imperceptibly.
Strengths Supple ride comfort; quiet cruising manners; punchy performance
Weaknesses Gearbox is jerky; lots of body lean in corners
The interior layout, fit and finish
Driving position and dashboard
As standard, the Audi A6 Avant comes with the Audi Virtual Cockpit system, which presents digital dials on a 12.3in screen. It’s excellent, and you get lots of options for configuring the content and layout to show a wealth of useful information just below your sightline.
There’s another 8.6in touchscreen dedicated to climate control and convenience features. It provides haptic feedback to confirm when you’ve touched an icon, but we'd prefer physical buttons that you can navigate by memory and feel. The air-con controls in the BMW 5 Series Touring are much easier to use.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
Seeing out of the front of the A6 Avant and over its bonnet is no problem, and relatively slender windscreen pillars do little to interrupt your view out at roundabouts and junctions.
True, the rear screen is shallower and more steeply raked than that of the Mercedes E-Class Estate, but parking is still relatively easy thanks to the front and rear sensors and a reversing camera that come as standard. The optional Technology Pack adds a useful 360-degree camera system to help you manoeuvre in tight spots.
All version get powerful matrix LED headlights that can adapt their light output to suit the conditions, so you don't even need to worry about dazzling other drivers.
Sat nav and infotainment
Every A6 Avant comes with the latest MMI dual-touchscreen infotainment system. Unfortunately, it's a step back from the set-up in older Audis and the 5 Series, which feature simple buttons and switches that are easier to use.
Above that is the larger 10.1in infotainment touchscreen, which has sat-nav plus Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring. Again, it’s not as good as the arrangement in the 5 Series, which has the touchscreen for the passenger and a rotary iDrive controller that lets the driver skim through lists and make selections quickly.
On the plus side, the standard 10.1in touchscreen has sharp graphics and is responsive to commands, although we wish it was a little higher up the dashboard.
We were also impressed by the optional Bang & Olufsen sound system that comes as part of the Technology Pack. It sounds much clearer and punchier than the standard system.
Audi is famous for the quality of its interiors and the A6 Avant does nothing but reinforce that reputation.
Not only does the dual-touchscreen layout provide plenty of visual wow factor, but the interior is backed up by ambient lighting, plush-feeling materials and a standard of assembly that’s second to none.
There aren’t many traditional buttons, but those you do get all click precisely and satisfyingly.
Strengths High-quality materials; comfortable seats; great digital dash
Weaknesses Infotainment isn't as slick as BMW’s iDrive
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
Although the Audi A6 Avant has slightly less front leg room than the BMW 5 Series Touring and the Mercedes E-Class Estate, that's a bit like saying that one species of elephant is smaller than another – the point is that they're all big old beasts.
Besides, when it comes to head room, the A6 is one of the biggest beasts out there. You'll find it has plenty of width for your elbows too, although tall drivers who slide the seat right back will run out of armrest on the door as it’s not quite long enough.
There are some storage compartments dotted around, but compared with the 5 Series and E-Class, the Avant lacks the additional convenience of a large cubby under the centre armrest or a tray to dump odds and ends in the centre console. It’s also worth pointing out that the door pockets and glovebox are on the small side.
As is the case in rival luxury estates, a couple of six-footers can comfortably sit behind similar-sized adults in the A6 Avant without their knees pressing into the seatbacks or their heads touching the rooflining.
In fact, tall adults will find the Avant has more head and leg room than the E-Class Estate. A 5 Series Touring is similar for head room, but the Avant is better for rear leg room.
Also like those rivals, the A6 Avant is plagued by a bulky floor hump that runs down the spine of the car and robs the middle rear-seat passenger of foot space. If you need even more rear-seat space, the Skoda Superb Estate is worth a look.
Seat folding and flexibility
Handy buttons just inside the tailgate allow you to fold down the rear seats without having to walk around to open a rear door and haul the seatback down manually.
The A6 Avant's seats fold in a 40/20/40 split, meaning you can run long, thin items between two rear passengers. The 5 Series Touring has a similar arrangement.
The seatbacks do lie at a slight angle when folded, but at least there's no annoying step in the floor of the extended load bay.
The A6 Avant has a slightly smaller boot than the 5 Series Touring and Mercedes E-Class Estate. However, the differences are small. The Avant boot is still huge and is usefully square in shape, making it easy to pack.
You can also position four lashing points where you want them, thanks to rails in the floor, while a tensioning strap, a net and two hooks are included so you can secure smaller items.
The tailgate and luggage cover open electrically on all models, but if maximum space is your priority, the Skoda Superb Estate offers far more space for much less cash.
Strengths Spacious for all occupants; flexible rear seats
Weaknesses PHEV boot is compromised by battery under the floor
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2
The Audi A6 Avant is priced broadly in line with its closest rivals, the BMW 5 Series Touring and Mercedes E-Class Estate.
Fuel economy is also competitive, although spec for spec, the equivalent 5 Series generally emits less CO2, making it slightly cheaper to run as a company car. If you’re looking for the lowest BIK rates, you’ll need the TFSIe plug-in hybrid – it’s in the same low tax bracket as the 530e Touring, but the E-Class Estate PHEV sits in an even lower bracket.
PCP finance deals are competitive rather than outstanding, although the A6 Avant is predicted to hold on to its value better than the 5 Series Touring and Jaguar XF Sportbrake. You can check the latest prices by searching our New Car Deals pages.
Equipment, options and extras
Standard equipment is pretty generous on any A6 Avant. As well as sat-nav and matrix LED headlights, the entry-level Sport comes with 18in alloy wheels, leather upholstery, dual-zone climate control, ambient LED interior lighting and keyless go.
We'd stick with Sport instead of upgrading to S line, partly because the bigger 19in wheels and firmer sports suspension it adds don't help the ride quality, but also because most of the additions are purely styling add-ons.
We’d certainly consider the Technology Pack for its 360-degree camera, upgraded stereo and keyless entry. Sadly, you can’t add many other options so you have to jump up a trim level in many cases to get certain toys you might want.
Audi finished disappointing 26th out of 32 brands in our 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey – way behind BMW in 12th and just below Mercedes in 24th. Meanwhile, the Audi A6 came bottom of the executive cars category in the same survey.
The A6 Avant comes with a three-year or 60,000-mile warranty (whichever you reach first), and you can extend that for up to five years or 90,000 miles for a reasonable additional cost.
Safety and security
All versions of the A6 Avant come with a minimum of six airbags and a host of electronic driver aids, including an automatic emergency braking (AEB) system that can recognise pedestrians as well as reduce the chances of you running into the car in front.
Those features helped it secure a five-star (out of five) rating from Euro NCAP, with high scores for both adult and child occupant crash protection, although the E-Class was scored higher still. Range-topping Vorsprung trim comes with extra safety aids, including blind spot monitoring, although these can be added to other trim levels.
An alarm, engine immobiliser and deadlocks (which prevent a door from being opened, even if the window is smashed) are fitted to every Audi A6 Avant to ward off thieves.
Strengths Competitive price; generous equipment
Weaknesses E-Class Estate PHEV is a cheaper company car
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We reckon the 201bhp 2.0-litre 40 TFSI petrol engine delivers all the power you need, although if you pay BIK tax, the 50 TFSIe will be cheaper to run.
|RRP price range
|£47,100 - £88,100
|Number of trims (see all)
|Number of engines (see all)
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)
|petrol, diesel, petrol parallel phev
|MPG range across all versions
|188.3 - 48.7
|Available doors options
|3 years / 60000 miles
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)
|£853 / £6,400
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)
|£1,706 / £12,799