AUDI A6 Estate performance
The engine line-up will be expanded later, but for now there are just two options: a 201bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel (illogically badged 40 TDI) and a 282bhp 3.0-litre six-cylinder diesel (50 TDI).
The 50 TDI generates huge shove from relatively low revs, so feels effortlessly quick much of the time. However, even in Dynamic mode, its eight-speed automatic gearbox can be a bit slow-witted when pulling out of junctions or if you suddenly ask it to kick down.
For most people, the 40 TDI will be the better choice, because it offers lower fuel consumption and emissions, yet still has enough grunt to haul a fully loaded car with ease. A seven-speed automatic gearbox is standard with this engine, and while it can also leave you hanging when you’re looking to pull away swiftly from stationary, it’s fine on the move.
AUDI A6 Estate ride
There may be just two engines, but the A6 Avant is available with four suspension set-ups: the conventional steel springs that are standard on Sport models, a stiffened and lowered version of this set-up (standard on S line), adaptive suspension that can be stiffened or softened at the touch of a button (an option on all models) and air suspension (an option on the 50 TDI).
So far, we’ve only tried versions fitted with the adaptive and air set-ups, with both letting past the odd thud and shimmy, but they generally feel very comfortable even on 19in wheels.
If you regularly travel with the boot heavily loaded, it’s worth considering the air suspension, because this provides self-levelling instead of letting the car sit down at the back, but otherwise we wouldn’t go beyond the cheaper adaptive set-up.
AUDI A6 Estate handling
While the A6 Avant doesn’t scythe through bends with the precision of a Jaguar XF Sportbrake, it mostly handles predictably and securely.
We say mostly, because the 40 TDI sends all of its power to the front wheels – something that can cause the steering wheel to tug unnaturally in your hands under acceleration.
There are no such problems in the 50 TDI, which comes with Audi’s traction-enhancing quattro four-wheel drive system.
Optional rear-wheel steering turns the rear wheels in the opposite direction to the fronts at low to medium speeds, reducing the turning circle by more than a metre and making the car quicker to change direction, while at higher speeds it turns the rear wheels in the same direction as the fronts to enhance stability.
AUDI A6 Estate refinement
The A6 Avant is a relaxing motorway cruiser, because it’s brilliant at shutting out wind and road noise, and both engines settle right down when you’re driving at a steady speed.
Those engines also feature mild hybrid technology, where the energy that would normally be lost under braking is instead recycled to allow brief periods of engine-off coasting that conserves fuel.
A bonus of this technology is that it makes the regular engine stop-start system smoother. But there are still a couple of areas of refinement where the A6 Avant is behind the BMW 5 Series Touring.
When the car is in its most responsive Dynamic mode and you’re accelerating, the 3.0-litre engine sounds coarser than you might expect; meanwhile, regardless of setting, the 2.0-litre unit sends some buzz back through the accelerator pedal. However, the latter engine is still smoother than its Jaguar and Volvo equivalents.