What is it like?

Used Audi A6 Avant 2011-2018 review

(2011 - 2018)
Used Audi A6 Avant 2011-2018
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What's the used Audi A6 estate like?

The Audi A6 executive saloon has always been one of our favourite luxury cars: it’s smooth, refined and comfortable to ride in.

However, there are those who prefer, or need, the practicality of an estate, and for them Audi offers an Avant version of the A6. It’s more spacious, not surprisingly, with a bigger boot than the saloon and the ease of use of a rear tailgate, rather than a narrow boot opening - perfect for loading indivisible items or for taking the dog to the park. At 535 litres it’s larger in size than the boot offered in the BMW 5 Series Touring, one of the Avant’s biggest rivals, but not as large as the almighty cavern found at the rear of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate.

The A6 Avant is a front-wheel-drive car in its standard form, but it also comes with the option of four-wheel drive (quattro). Under the bonnet there’s a good choice of engines. The most prevelant is the entry-level 2.0 TDI ultra. Three other diesels are available, two 3.0-litre V6s, one with 215bhp, the other with 268bhp and standard quattro four-wheel drive. The third diesel offering is a potent 3.0-litre BiTDi, which musters 315bhp and drive all four wheels. There’s only one petrol engine available – a turbocharged 4.0-litre V8, which is available in the 444bhp S6.

There are three trims to choose from, with the entry-level SE Executive coming equipped with xenon headlights, 17in alloys, cruise control, front and rear parking sensors and auto lights and wipers. Inside, occupants are treated to four-zone climate control, acoustic glazed windows, leather upholstery, Bluetooth and a multimedia interface and a DAB radio. Upgrade to the mid-level S line models and you'll find sporty details added to the A6 including firmer suspension, a rear diffuser and sports front seats, while there are also classy additions such as LED headlights and a Valcona leather and Alcantara interior. The range-topping Black Edition trim adds gloss black details to the exterior, larger alloys and a Bose sound system.

On the road, the Avant performs with all the suavity of the saloon. The 2.0 TDI is smooth and refined at all speeds, and offers plenty of punch. The more powerful versions feel even more muscular, and are equally refined. The seven-speed automatic gearbox shifts smoothly, too, with just the occasional jerkiness betraying it on downshifts. There are flappy paddles to let you change gear yourself, if preferred.

The ride on the standard SE Exec cars is called Dynamic, and it’s smooth and comfortable, but seeking out an S line car means 18in alloy wheels and a Sports suspension set-up, which doesn’t do the ride quality any favours. However, some S line cars will have been specified from new with the softer Dynamic suspension, and these models are worth seeking out. Moving up to the Black Editions brings 20in alloys and an even firmer ride.

The good news is that even the entry-level front-wheel-drive cars with the 2.0 TDI engine feel grippy and secure. The steering of most versions is not the sportiest or most communicative but it’s light and fairly direct. As far as handling goes, the A6 Avant is safe and predictable in most guises, even if it’s not as much fun to drive as one or two of its rivals.

The strong point for the A6 Avant is refinement, however. Wind and road noise are well muted, even at speed, and all the engines are quiet.  

Inside is a high-quality interior of rare class. The driving position is spot on, with the only flaw being the pedal layout in the fairly rare manual cars. The dashboard and surrounding areas are all of the highest quality, with everything laid out logically and feeling good to the touch. Visibility is good, and there are front and rear parking sensors as standard on all A6 Avants. Every A6 Avant comes with Audi’s impressive MMI system, which is similar to the class-leading iDrive set-up in BMW’s 5 Series in that it consists of a central screen controlled by a dial between the front seats. The standard screen size is 6.5in, but you could pay extra to upgrade to an 8in display and an MMI rotary controller that can be ‘drawn’ on with your finger to enter letters and numbers.

There’s plenty of space up front and a good amount in the rear, so passengers should find it easy to get comfortable, even with three abreast on the rear seats. As mentioned, the boot is usefully shaped and of a good size, and easily accessible through the large rear tailgate.   

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