What's the used Audi A6 estate like?
It might be difficult for younger people to believe but years ago estate cars were viewed very much as the poor relation. A longer, heavier and more ungainly back was grafted on to a saloon body and the basic rear suspension meddled with until the car could carry half a hundredweight of coal but often couldn’t deal satisfactorily with bumps or corners.
Now, such horrific things are no longer allowed to happen, and an estate will drive almost identically to the model it’s based on. Hence if you like the Audi A6, you’ll like this A6 Avant, which is merely the estate version of that very impressive car. Indeed it carries over all the good things of the A6 saloon, although for the present it offers a smaller range of engines to choose from. This means those after the load-lugging Avant will have to have a diesel engine under the bonnet, and there’s only a choice of two: a 201bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel (illogically badged 40 TDI) and a 282bhp 3.0-litre six-cylinder diesel (50 TDI).
Trim-wise, for the moment likewise there are only two: Sport and S line. Sport-spec A6 Avants come with most of the luxuries you’re likely to want, including heated front seats, part-leather upholstery, satellite navigation, keyless entry and go and 18in alloy wheels. Upgrading to S line trim brings 19in alloy wheels, sportier looks and leather and Alcantara seats.
On the road, the 40 TDI version is the more logical choice, being a good compromise between power and economy. It has more than enough grunt, although its seven-speed automatic gearbox can occasionally leave you waiting for it. The 50 TDI model is a real flyer, and, like the less powerful engine, it’s remarkably quiet. It’s attached to an eight-speed automatic gearbox that can also pause before delivering anything.
There were four suspension options to choose from when the car was new. Entry-level Sport trim uses conventional steel springs and dampers, S line models use the same, but stiffened and lowered, and there was the option of adaptive suspension that comes with switchable dampers that can be softened or stiffened to suit your mood. We’d recommend you seek out a car with this fitted, if possible. Adaptive air suspension was an even pricier option, but shop around and you may pick up a car with it on, although oddly it can be caught out by sharp bumps taken quickly, causing a most unseemly thud. Your car will keep on an even keel, however, whatever load you shove in the back.
Approach a corner and the Avant feels lighter and more agile than its size would lead you to believe. Some cars even come with four-wheel steering, which makes things sharper still. There’s plenty of grip, whether front-wheel drive or four-wheel drive quattro, and the overall balance instils confidence in the driver, even if one or two of its luxury-car rivals are more precise.
Inside, it’s easy to find the right driving position, thanks to an electrically adjustable seat and steering wheel. The driver is definitely pampered, with lumbar support and a dashboard of unimpeachable logic and good-quality materials. As standard, you get clear analogue dials ahead of you, but if the Technology Pack has been added these are replaced by digital dials on a 12.3in screen. They're excellent, doing more than analogue dials by being highly configurable and showing a wealth of useful information just below your sightline. There’s also the option of a head-up display.
Visibility is excellent, with front and rear parking sensors and a rear-view parking camera. Audi’s latest generation of infotainment system swaps a rotary controller (like BMW’s iDrive) for a touchscreen with haptic feedback. The screen is sharp and, as standard, it's 8.8in diagonally across, but if you add the Technology Pack, the upgrades include a larger 10.1in screen.
Up front, there’s plenty of space for two, while in the rear passengers enjoy more leg and head room than most rival cars offer. A central third passenger will have to straddle a small central tunnel but otherwise gets a good amount of room. The boot is positively massive, and is a good shape and easily accessible - it’s one of the best in its estate car class.
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