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What's Hot
Superb interior design and quality, sensor-controlled tailgate opening.
What's Not
Intrusive transmission tunnel in rear, expensive options can blow out the price tag.
X-Factor
That combination of svelte style and wagon practicality - a classy alternative to an SUV.
Ian Crawford | Jul, 05 2012 | 1 Comment

AUDI A6 AVANT REVIEW

Vehicle style: Premium wagon
Price: $81,800 (as tested, $92,420)
Fuel economy: (claimed) 8.6 l/100km on 95RON unleaded. CO2:152g/km
Fuel economy: (on test) 9.4 l/100km

 

Overview

Station wagons are no longer the bland knock-about hacks and house-painters’ friends they once were. Today, in the main, they are elegant family chariots with all the class and luxury of their sedan stablemates.

In many cases, the wagon is the more stylish and a little more upmarket. You will rarely see them pressed into work duties, that's become the preserve of SUVs and twin-cab utes.

In recent years, pretty well every Euro premium brand worth its salt has a refined wagon - or uber-classy 'shooting brake' - in pride-of-place in their showrooms.

Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Volvo, Alfa Romeo and, of course, Audi all now offer stylish wagons in the model line-up and Audi's A6 Avant builds on this heritage.

 

Interior

Quality: Audi’s designers are masters of the art of creating great interiors; the A6 Avant is no exception. The Avant’s cabin exudes a level of classy ambience found in few cars.

Seats are beautifully trimmed, and there is fastidious attention to detail throughout.

Controls and switchgear are 'solid' to the touch and have a premium look and feel. So too the tacho, speedo and display information which is clear and easily read.

(Speaking of the speedo, it’s calibrated to a rather ambitious 300km/h!)

Comfort: Driver ergonomics are exemplary, the controls are perfectly positioned and the big fold-away information screen sits nice and high on the dash and is crystal-clear.

There is a wonderful sense of space inside the big wagon’s leather-trimmed cabin. The electrically-adjustable front seats are wide and generous (with memory function for the driver) and there is ample leg and head-room in the rear.

The A6's long wheelbase also ensures a settled and comfortable ride.

Equipment: The Avant is well-featured as standard; better than we've come to expect from premium German brands.

Among its features are cruise control, start/stop, multi-function steering wheel, Audi 'drive-select' (for comfort, auto, dynamic, and efficiency modes), light and rain-sensors, Audi 'parking plus' with 360-degree cameras, keyless remote opening and closing, tyre-pressure monitoring gauge, a sensor-controlled automatic-opening electric tailgate and electric luggage cover, and a handy luggage rail system.

There is also Bluetooth interface with music streaming (for gen-four and higher iPods), USP storage and MP3 players, touch-pad-controlled MMI sat-nav, and 10-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 audio.

If you’ve got deeper pockets, you can specify a raft of optionals including the $11,750 S-line sport package, Audi active-lane and side-assist system with adaptive cruise control and a stop-and-go function at $7500, fancier Valcona leather-trimmed front seats with a memory function, ventilation and heating and a massage function ($8850).

You can also plonk down a hefty $12,340 for a Bang & Olufsen Advance system with no fewer than 15 speakers and a whopping 1200watts.

Storage: With the rear seats occupied, there is 565 litres of luggage space. Fold the seat backs away and this leaps to a pretty handy 1680 litres. The bumper-level loading lip also means easy loading and unloading.

There are handy eyelets for tying things down, restraining straps, an adjustable rail luggage-securing system, luggage net, and a cargo blind that raises and lowers itself in parallel with the tailgate.

One really tricky feature is that with the car’s key fob in your pocket or purse, the tail-gate opens automatically if you can place a well-aimed kick under the rear bumper (just the thing when you’ve got an arm-full of groceries - it takes some practice though).

There are front-and-rear cup holders, door pockets, a good-sized glovebox and a small but useful two-level console bin.

Towing capacity is 2100kg.

 

On The Road

Driveability: The first thing you’ll notice when you step off in the petrol Avant is a hint of hesitancy as the Multitronic CVT (continuously variable transmission) gets the car up and running. There is a tiny delay in clutch take-up.

Once this is overcome – and it’s really only a split second – the acceleration, while not blistering, will be perfectly adequate for most drivers.

With a more than reasonable 132kW and 320Nm of torque to call on (and a 0-100km/h sprint time of 8.6 seconds), the Avant feels swift underfoot. It is especially eager at highway speeds, if not one of the Audi brand’s hot performers.

While CVTs are not my favourite transmissions, with its eight pre-set ratios the Avant TFSI Multitronic CVT is one of the best, and optional paddle shifters improve things even more.

Refinement: Audi’s new petrol Avant is a very refined car: NVH (noise, vibration, harshness), and road noise, is impressively low, even with the test car’s 19-inch wheels and tyres.

Engine and wind noise is also very low at highway speeds. Put it to work, and the engine can be heard, but makes an appealing rising rasp when stretched, and remains perfectly balanced. It is a most impressive engine and drrivetrain.

Suspension: Audi suspension settings are always on the sporting side. The Avant 2.0TFSI features a five-link front set-up with double upper and lower wishbones, anti-roll bar and steel coil springs.

The rear uses a self-tracking trapezoidal-link axle with a wishbone, an anti-roll bar and steel coils.

Steering is electro-mechanical steering speed-dependent power assistance. While noticeably improved on previous models, the A6 Avant’s steering is still not quite up there with the 5-Series Beemer or its E-class Benz counterparts.

That said, handling is poised and predictable and, given that the Avant is a front-wheel driver, its cornering turn-in is impressive and understeer virtually non-existent.

Brakes: The Avant has a dual-circuit brake system with diagonal split, electronic stabilisation control, brake servo and hydraulic brake assist. The front uses ventilated aluminium discs and composite floating callipers.

The rear set-up has solid discs and cast floating calipers with an electro-mechanical parking brake. Braking performance is exceptional.

 

Safety

ANCAP Rating: Untested (5-Star Euro NCAP)

Safety Features: Two-stage airbags for driver and front passenger, side airbags, seat-mounted for front- and-rear passengers, head-level airbag curtain for front-and-rear passengers, ABS brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake-assist, electronic stabilisation program with traction control and electronic differential lock.

 

How It Compares | Value For Money:

The A6 Avant sits somewhat by itself as a Euro wagon. Its size pits it against the considerably more expensive 5-Series and E-Class wagons on one end of the scale, and the Skoda Superb at the other.

Skoda Superb ($47,490) - While it carries a value-for-money price tag, the Skoda Superb is anything but a poor relation to the Audi Avant 2.0 TFSI. And it’s got a seven-speed DSG transmission rather than a CVT.

Comfortable and capable, the Superb is roomier than the Audi and its luggage space with the rear seats occupied is 633 litres (Audi 565 litres), rising to a cavernous 1865 litres with seats folded flat. (see Superb reviews)

Mercedes E-350 Elegance Estate ($139,935) - You can buy two Audi Avants - an A6 and an A4 - for about the same price as the Merc E-350 Estate.

For all that extra money you get a 225kW V6, seven-speed auto and rear-wheel drive, but the same towing capacity as the Avant TFSI. (see E-Class reviews)

BMW 535i Touring ($126,200) - Also considerably dearer and more the 'grand tourer' than the A6 Avant, the Beemer is a powerful rocketship of a car with a turbo-charged six producing 225kW and 400Nm. It's also beautifully trimmed and finished and a simply super drive. (see 5 Series reviews)

Also consider Volvo's $69,950 V70 T6 wagon. The smart-looking Volvo has very tasty turbo-charged V6 under the bonnet.

Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.

 

TMR Verdict | Overall

The new A6 Avant 2.0 TFSI is a beautifully-crafted wagon with a great road presence. It is well conceived, practical and flexible, and its interior is nothing short of outstanding.

Out on the road, it will carry you and your family in supreme comfort for effortless highway travel (it really is hard to believe you’ve only got a two-litre motor pulling things along).

Audi's A6 Avant is certainly stylish, and a classy and spacious alternative for buyers who might otherwise be considering an SUV.

Both the A6 Avant TFSI and TDI are worthy of a very close look.

 

Pricing

  • 2012 Audi A6 Avant - 2.0 TFSI - $81,800
  • 2012 Audi A6 Avant - 2.0 TDI - $82,900

Note: prices exclude on-road costs.

 
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