The A6 Saloon, with a lot more room.

Introduction

Audi has plenty of pedigree when it comes to desirable estate cars, having built plenty that have been at least as focused on brutal speed as they were on practicality. At its heart, the A6 Avant is simply an estate version of the popular saloon, with more room for baby gear, suitcases or maybe even the hardware for a business presentation. It’s a more practical take on the large luxury car, but no less refined for it. There is also a rugged-looking Allroad option, with a higher ride height and ultra-capable air suspension.

 

Body Styles: 5dr Estate Seats: 5 MRP from £35,820 - £62,265 

 

Did you know? The windscreen and front windows on the A6 are double-glazed, which makes them far better for sound insulation.

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Verdict:★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7.4/10)

The overall verdict on the A6 Avant depends largely on which engine it comes with. Every single one is a good car, with lots of space and hugely impressive cruising refinement, but the V6 TDI models offer big advantages in tractability, smoothness and load-hauling practicality. The 2.0-litre engines in the diesel-only range are good, and their high mpg and low CO2 ensures they’re very popular, but for some, the car isn’t complete without the V6. Comfort and technology are well taken care of, and it’s just a shame that more safety kit isn’t included as standard.

Design & Exterior

★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

Interior & Comfort

★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

Technology & Connectivity

★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

Performance & Handling

★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

Safety Features

★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

Spec & Trim Levels

★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

Running Costs & Fuel Economy

★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

Pricing

★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

 

2017 Audi A6 Avant

We Like

Broad choice of engines and trims

Lots of standard equipment

Excellent refinement

We Don't Like

Big pricing jumps between engines

Some desirable features are only optional

Poor provision for standard active safety

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Design & Exterior: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

2017 Audi A6 Avant

The A6 is on the plain side, and the Avant does nothing to liven the proceedings up. An undeniably good-looking selection of alloy wheel designs helps to save the exterior from borderline anonymity at first glance, but the more you look at the A6 Avant, the better it seems to look.

It’s a simple design with a strong shoulder line running between the front and rear headlight clusters, and a wedge hollowed out of the lower sections of the doors. Audi’s familiar styling graces the front and back, but one other thing that’s clear from the off is a roofline that slopes slightly more than you might expect. There’s a hint of sleekness about it.

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Interior & Comfort: ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

2017 Audi A6 Avant

Audi’s latest large cars are universally fantastic when it comes to their interior quality and overall comfort. The brand has really upped its game for materials quality after Mercedes had threatened to take its crown, and the A6 Avant is a great example of how well Audi is doing. Double-glazed front windows and a matching windscreen help to create a cabin that’s quieter than the average.

The design of the dashboard and centre console is a little old-fashioned, but a folding, retracting sat-nav screen is one way of clearing space for the high transmission tunnel that forms part of the wrap-around cabin. You feel like you’re sitting within the car. The driver is surrounded by buttons and dials on three sides, even though some functions are migrated to the digital menu systems in the MMI interface.

The ride quality is exemplary on the optional air suspension. It adds a painful £2000 to the price but is worth it. With air suspension the A6 floats along, keeping all but the very worst of the everyday hits at bay, never becoming crashy at one end of the scale or roly-poly at the other. Audi’s Drive Mode Select has the most effect when coupled with the air springs, too, introducing an extra layer of body control on one hand and greater comfort on the other. The Allroad comes with air-filled bouncy bits as standard, which goes part way to justifying its price.

Nervous drivers might take umbrage with how big it feels, but it doesn’t feel quite as broad as the A7 or A8. Raising the seat height helps to defeat some of the impression of size, and naturally the higher-riding Allroad is less of a problem.

Practicality

It goes without saying that this is the most practical A6, far exceeding the roominess of the saloon model. The roofline doesn’t stay high all the way back to the tailgate so it could be even more practical with a design tweak, but it does well enough as it is. Most buyers should find the space on offer - up to 1680 litres with the seats down - very adequate.

Rails at the side of the boot can be optioned-up with dividers and cross-members that help to stop luggage rolling around. There are further options for plastic and rubber boot mats for active families, and as standard the rear seats - which are more than an arm’s stretch away - can be lowered one-handed with a single tug of a lever on each side of the boot. The 60:40 split rear seats have a load-through facility for skis and similar long luggage.

The Allroad adds two 12-volt sockets in the rear, which are otherwise optional until you reach S6 level. It has bag hooks, restraining straps and a dirt-resistant tray, not to mention preparation for a towbar.

Boot space

Min: 565 litres
Max: 1680 litres

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Technology & Connectivity: ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

2017 Audi A6 Avant

There is no shortage of luxury equipment on the entry-level A6 Avant. The tailgate is powered, for starters, the heated front seats are part-electrically adjustable and the cabin is cooled by four-zone climate control. Bi-xenon headlights do a brilliant job at the front, while the rear light clusters are LEDs. Keyless entry and start, Audi Drive Select driving modes and parking sensors at both ends are standard.

Navigation is also standard via the central, fold-out screen, but there’s a secondary colour screen between the two main dials on the instrument cluster. It can display a wide range of readouts from trim computer data to media playback status. The fully-digital Audi Virtual Cockpit is not available on the A6; it’s a little too old for that. The higher of Audi’s in-house stereo systems is standard, with a six-channel, 180-Watt amplifier and 10 speakers around the cabin, one of which is a subwoofer in the spare wheel well.

Cruise control, automatic lights and windscreen wipers and Hill-Hold Assist are all part of the standard equipment, which even for the price is very good. As far as communications tech goes, Bluetooth is included in the standard range of tech that also covers a USB connection via an adapter, two SDHC memory card readers, a CD player and good old-fashioned radio, with AM, FM and DAB reception.

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Performance & Handling: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

2017 Audi A6 Avant

There are no low-powered engines in the A6, but some are distinctly better than others. From the two-wheel drive, 2.0-litre 190hp diesels you can expect adequate all-round performance, but even Audi’s soundproofing can’t hide the fact that the engine is not quite the the A6’s equal for refinement and class. That honour goes to the 3.0-litre TDI V6, which is smoother, sounds better and drives with infinitely more panache. It will cruise at less than 1000rpm if you force it to, but it still picks up effortlessly and punches with far more linear, more organic-feeling muscle.

It’s no wonder when you consider that the V6s have between 25 percent and 45 percent more peak torque than the 2.0-litre cars, delivered over a broader 500-1250rpm band. The V6 is a much more relaxed, much waftier engine that magnifies the sense of luxury on board. The Allroad, the car Audi’s richest customers all seem to own, only offers the three V6 powerplants with 218-320hp.

Recommended engine: 3.0 TDI V6 218

0-62 MPH

7.3 seconds

Fuel economy

61.4 mpg (19in wheels)

Emissions

120g/km (19in wheels)

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Safety Features: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

2017 Audi A6 Avant

The A6 covers all the key legally-required safety systems, like traction and stability control, the latter of which includes further systems to enhance stability under braking. Quattro four-wheel drive versions can more safely pull away from slippery junctions in a hurry thanks to permanently splitting the torque between all four wheels.

On the other hand, it’s disappointing not to see a knee airbag on the spec sheet, and standard-fit front and rear parking sensors can’t cloud the fact that the A6 has less active safety technology available than you’d think. Expect this to change with the next all-new one.

You have to add the Technology Pack Advanced before you gain Audi Lane Assist, which actively steers to keep the car in lane, Side Assist, which works to warn you of traffic in your blind spots and will actively try to stop you changing lanes if it’s dangerous, and Adaptive Cruise Control that can work down to a standstill.

It’s a frightening £3265-3500 as an option depending on the model, but you do also get a larger sat-nav screen, a head-up display, Audi Connect for Internet-connected services via your smartphone’s data coupling and Audi Phone Box, which can ultimately improve mobile phone signal strength.

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Specs and Trim Levels: ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

2017 Audi A6 Avant

Colours

While flat white and black are the two free colour options on the A6 Avant and Allroad, buyers rarely leave it at that. There are arguably too many muted, dark colours including three blacks, a dark blue, a dark grey and a dark green, with dark, almost-black blue following white, silver, grey, black, another silver, another black and another white.

Diamond Beige metallic is to be avoided at all costs. Audi design language just isn’t built to be painted beige, although Java Brown metallic looks unexpectedly good on the Allroad. Matador Red is a great standalone colour, but it doesn’t really suit the A6. Sepang Blue pearl looks amazing, though, or Daytona Grey pearl. All optional paints are £675.

Trim Levels

The entry-level A6 Avant runs mostly parallel in terms of spec with the entry-level A6 Allroad, while the Allroad Sport begins to mirror S line but stops short of changing the seats or adding S line aesthetics.

From SE Executive, which is already well equipped, the regular Avant range moves to S line and features all-LED headlights, sportier seats and S line logos everywhere you turn. Above that is Black Edition, with larger, 20in alloy wheels, privacy glass and the Black styling package. On top of that is a premium Bose surround sound stereo.

Allroad cars look comparatively expensive but come complete with higher ride height, slightly higher-profile tyres and air suspension, plus one or two small practicality additions. Allroad Sport ups the wheel sizes, has more expensive leather upholstery and adds fully-electric front seats as well as LED headlights, dynamic indicators, electrically-folding mirrors and main beam assist.

Size and Dimensions

The A6 needs to be driven and parked with care to protect its alloy wheels and bumpers from kerbs. It’s actually slightly narrower and shorter than the A7 Sportback, although you wouldn’t think it at a glance: it’s still well over 4.9 metres long. It might still be too tight a squeeze for most older garages.

Length

4943 mm

Width

1874 mm (2086 mm w/mirrors)

Height

1461 mm

Max towing weight without brake

750kg

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Running Costs & Fuel Economy: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

2017 Audi A6 Avant

Intriguingly, the two-wheel drive V6 TDI 218 is more efficient than the quattro-equipped 2.0-litre TDI, and only 3mpg worse off than the two-wheel drive automatic equivalent. The difference between the manual 2.0-litre and the 3.0, which is automatic only, is negligible. It adds to the case for the cheapest V6 being the right car for the job and emphasises how much harder the smaller engines have to work to propel the same car.

Servicing, insurance and road tax, however, are a different matter. Under the new April 2017 rules change, most A6s are expensive enough to trigger the higher £450 annual road tax payment made up of the standard £140 rate and a £310 surcharge for cars over £40,000. This extra tax lasts for five years and only four A6 Avants escape. No Allroads do.

Insurance on such an expensive car will be reasonably high, with ABI groupings from 33E to 44E. The A6 is full of expensive components, so it’s on a list of target cars for thieves and a tracker might prove a worthwhile extra expense.

Reliability and servicing

The A6 was distinctly mid-table overall in the 2016 Driver Power survey but poorly for reliability, around 20 places from the bottom of the 150-car table. Complex interiors and heavily electronics-reliant systems are the chief cause of A6 Avant-related headaches.

Minor

Flexible up to 24 months or 19,000 miles - £300 est

Major

24 months or 19,000 miles - £550 est

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Pricing: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

2017 Audi A6 Avant

Considering how expensive many smaller cars have become in this generation of A6’s lifetime, it actually looks like pretty good value at the entry point, albeit with the inferior 2.0-litre manual diesel drivetrain. Its £35,820 plays the cheapest V6 SE Executive’s £41,960, and that’s understandably enough to put most people off the V6.

S line starts at £38,570 for the only manual model, while Black Edition asks another £2225, punting it over the £40,000 mark. The S6 Avant opens for business at £60,040.

On the Allroad side, prices range from £47,425 for the automatic 3.0-litre TDI V6 with 215bhp to £57,400 for the full-fat 3.0 BiTDI punch. It’s easily the most luxurious and desirable of all the sub-S A6s, and to the kind of buyer that prizes this particular model, it’s still reasonable value.

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Recommendations

Company Car Buyer

2.0 TDI ultra S tronic SE Executive – the lowest emissions of any A6 Avant, with the relaxing automatic transmission

Luxury Seeker

3.0 TDI 272 Black Edition – with oodles of torque on tap, this version feels as luxurious to drive as it does to sit in

Trend Setter

2.0 TDI ultra Black Edition – this model looks every inch the part but has multiple tax advantages

Rivals

BMW 5 Series Touring

Dynamically excellent, BMW has re-established its lead when it comes to building fun-to-drive estates

Mercedes E-Class Estate

A luxurious interior and an extremely comfortable ride outline a very tempting package for high-mileage drivers

Skoda Superb Estate

A much lower-grade interior than the A6, but with even more space and practicality

Volkswagen Passat Estate

This estate is gradually moving upmarket with better refinement, solid engine performance and excellent comfort

Land Rover Discovery Sport

Fancy an SUV instead of a big estate? Land Rover’s excellent Discovery Sport might be worth a look

What others say

evo

“The Avant is still a big, heavy car, but while it remains a mute, non-emotive sort of car to drive, it feels a lot less inert than previous A6s.”

Car Buyer

Refinement is a real strength of the A6 Avant. It’s very smooth and quiet on the move with suitably hushed engines while there’s barely any wind noise.”

 

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