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The A6 Avant has a gorgeous cabin and generous space for four people plus luggage. It is also well equipped and available with some strong engines.
Boot capacity is some way short of a Mercedes E-Class Estate's, and the A6 Avant doesn't handle as sharply as a BMW 5 Series Touring.
The Audi A6 Avant is an attractive package – as long as sheer luggage capacity isn't the be-all and end-all.
The 2.0-litre diesel engine revs smoothly and gives the A6 Avant a decent turn of pace; it never feels remotely underpowered. As you step up the engine range, you're struck by how effortless the performance becomes. The 3.0 TDI is available in two power outputs, and the higher-powered version barely needs to be revved to keep up with traffic. The twin-turbo 3.0 BiTDI is astonishingly quick.
Ride & Handling
The A6 Avant feels planted and secure on the motorway. What's more, it grips well through bends and remains calm and assured unless you lift off the accelerator suddenly mid-corner. SE models generally ride well, albeit with a slightly firm edge at low speeds, but S line cars and above have lowered sports suspension and larger wheels that give a noticeably firmer, less comfortable ride.
There's too much road noise over coarse surfaces, but otherwise the A6 Avant is a hushed cruiser. The 2.0-litre diesel engine is smooth and refined, and there's hardly any vibration through the steering wheel or gearlever. In fact, it's so good, we'd question the need for one of the six-cylinder engines.
Buying & Owning
Every diesel version is efficient and economical compared with rivals, and strong resale values help to make most models sensible choices. The 2.0 TDI Ultra promises to be about as cheap as it gets for company and private buyers, given the low CO2 emissions, slow depreciation and decent finance deals usually on offer. The six-cylinder, four-wheel-drive diesel models will be significantly more expensive to buy and run.
Quality & Reliability
The A6 Avant more than lives up to Audi's reputation for excellent cabin quality. The materials, build and attention to detail are faultless throughout, and the overall ambience isn't far off that of Audi's pricier A8 luxury saloon. The A6 doesn't fare well for reliability, however. In fact, it was rated as poor in the latest JD Power customer satisfaction survey.
Safety & Security
Like the A6 saloon, the Avant is brimming with the latest safety kit, including six airbags and stability control. Optional extras include rear side airbags and a system that steers you back on course if you start to wander from your lane on the motorway. The A6 saloon earned the maximum five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests, and the Avant should be just as safe. An alarm is fitted to help keep your car safe from thieves.
Behind The Wheel
There's lots of adjustment to the supportive driver's seat and the steering wheel. The upper dashboard is refreshingly clutter-free, too. However, the MMI system – which links a rotary control knob and onscreen menus – takes a bit of getting used to because the four function buttons grouped around the dial relate to different commands depending on which menu you're in at the time.
Space & Practicality
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 that of the BMW 5 Series Touring, though, it's still well behind what a Mercedes E-Class Estate offers, whether the rear seats are up or down. The cabin is harder to fault, because there's generous head- and legroom for four.
Our favourite is SE trim, which includes sat-nav, leather upholstery, four-zone climate control, front and rear parking sensors, an electrically operated tailgate, and automatic lights and wipers. There's a hefty premium for S line trim, which adds lowered and stiffened suspension, larger alloys, and LED front and rear lights. Options include a popular Technology Package, which brings online functions and a larger screen with better graphics.