Audi A6 Avant 3.0 TFSI S-line

December 2008

picture of car from the front

Subtle changes further tidy the A6 Avant's handsome exterior

Ratings

Overall Rating 8Overall rating

Value for money Rating 7Value for money

Space and Practicality Rating 4Costs

Space and Practicality Rating 8Space and practicality

Controls and display Rating 9Controls and display

Comfort Rating 8Comfort

Security Rating 8Car security

Safety Rating 8Car safety


Likes

  • Revised cabin is solid and great to look at
  • 3.0-litre supercharged engine delivers seamless performance
  • High levels of refinement and comfort
  • Sharper responses from revised suspension

Gripes

  • Hesitant throttle response can be a pain
  • Diesels the best option for decent economy
  • Exterior could be more dynamic
  • Extensive options list can be daunting

The large lifestyle estate market is as popular as ever and, as well as being inhabited by regular contenders, an increasing number of manufacturers new to the segment are joining in. In response to increased competition, Audi has unveiled its revised A6 Avant alongside a similarly reworked saloon model.

As with many Audi facelifts, the A6's makeover has been subtle but effective. The visual changes are so subtle that they amount to modifications of the lights, bumpers and grille, but the net result is that the A6 looks fresher and neater than before. In addition, those choosing the high specification S-line model benefit from LED daytime running lights as standard, adding style as well as being a useful safety feature.

Inside there are more subtle changes. The vast majority of the cabin remains as stylish and practical as before, but the luxurious feel is enhanced by improved materials and the addition of extra chrome detailing in choice positions. In addition, the centre screen benefits from enhanced graphics which are much clearer and more pleasant to look at.

The technology behind those graphics is another big change, as the Multi Media Interface (MMI) system has been given attention too. The sensible and simple layout remains, but the central rotary controller has gained a joystick control, making it easier to browse around on-screen maps with the optional satellite navigation system. This has also switched to a hard disk-based arrangement, allowing greater detail and the option of storing music tracks.

Mechanically the A6 benefits from revised suspension settings, including larger dampers at the front for improved control. Quattro models now have a 40/60 torque split front to rear which aims to improve the handling balance, while the engine range now includes a new 3.0-litre supercharged petrol unit and a high-economy 2.0-litre diesel.

Our verdict on the Audi A6 Avant 3.0 TFSI S-line

The subtle but detailed changes to the A6 have added more functionality as well as showroom appeal, while the improved engine range means there's something for everyone. The keenest drivers may want one of its rivals, but for the vast majority of the time the A6 Avant has all the bases covered.

Costs
Costs rating 4

While the A6 Avant costs a considerable sum of money, what you get is a car that's feels built to an incredibly high standard. Its image is difficult to quantify in monetary terms but for many buyers this reasoning helps to offset the cash outlay. Opting for a diesel will help reduce your running costs, as will taking it easy with the options list in the first place. Audi's reputation is such that visits to the dealership are likely to be only for routine checks.

Space and practicality
Space and Practicality Rating 8

With the split/fold rear seats down the Avant has a large load area, ensuring that it's one of the most accommodating cars in its class. The boot floor can be configured to accept optional dividers that slot into special rails, while the floor can be raised and used as a partition to help prevent cargo from rolling around. That the car will swallow a cycle on a specially developed rack proves it's more than just a posh estate car. Elsewhere in the cabin, regular occupants will have little difficulty getting comfortable thanks to the increased amount of legroom. In contrast, door bins and the glovebox are only modest in size.

picture of car from the rear

Load space remains very generous

Controls and display
Controls and Display Rating 9

Audi is now used to setting the standard for controls and instruments. The A6 confirms the fact that the firm's design and ergonomic philosophy is one of the best around. All the main dials are large, clear and easy to read, while switchgear is where you expect it and operates with a high quality feel that matches the car's price tag. The car's trip computer is comprehensive, as are the various main display options available through the MMI. The improved graphics are a great help, and even with a full range of options, navigating through is no chore.

Comfort
Comfort Rating 8

The general refinement level is excellent inside the A6, with low levels of wind and engine noise. The car's front seats, be they the standard or sports items, are supportive but never too firm, while the driving position should suit all sizes thanks to a wide range of adjustments.

Car security
Security Rating 8

There's no question that the A6 is a desirable car. Just as well, then, that it comes with anti theft system comprising interior movement sensors and an anti-towaway detector. The Avant also boasts a rather sturdy retractable cover for the load area.

Car safety
Safety Rating 8

Cars at this price point are rarely sent out with just the bare minimum of kit. The A6 Avant is no exception, as it comes with twin front, side and curtain airbags. Also standard are Isofix child seat mounting points plus anti-lock brakes and a number of traction and stability systems.

Driver appeal
Driver Appeal Rating 7

The revisions to the suspension and four-wheel drive layout were designed to improve the car's driving appeal, and they've done exactly that. Although the steering has a relatively artificial weight to it, it is nonetheless accurate, while the suspension soaks up bumps and resists roll very well. The mildly sporting S-line is really worthy of a hotter badge: with 286bhp on offer it is searingly quick and effortless, although the occasional pause after prodding the accelerator can be a distraction.

picture of car interior

High quality interior is better than ever

Family car appeal
Family Appeal Rating 8

Estate cars are no longer perceived as sensible family cars what with so many opting for people carriers or 4x4s. While less showy than the latter the A6 Avant can't match the former for clever seat folding systems. But if you want a sensible, classy car with enough room for two growing children and plenty of boot space, the A6 is more than adequate.

First car appeal
First car Rating 3

A big car like the A6 Avant is hardly the best choice for a novice driver, no matter how much money you've got to spend. It's a big machine and requires a sensible approach if you're new to driving. With even the lesser models possessing a reasonable turn of speed, keeping one eye on the speedo is recommended.

Quality and image
Quality and Image Rating 7

The A6 feels and looks every inch the quality product, helped by some of best interiors in the business, and you feel the value of every pound spent. In terms of image, Audis still cut it with the best of them in the executive car park, and can comfortably square up to its chief rivals.

Accessibility
Accessibility Rating

Being a conventional estate car, there's never a need to step up into the A6 Avant like you would in an SUV or people carrier. Once inside there's plenty of room and occupants are unlikely to feel cramped. At the back, the tailgate does open up nice and wide with minimal effort to reveal and a large, flat load bay. There's also the option of powered tailgate.

Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)

Standard fit is a single CD /radio unit, with its functions displayed on the excellent MMI screen. CD changers, higher quality audio kit and sat-nav are all options, with the latter very easy to programme. The more powerful audio options really do make a difference in the cabin, as the extra power is noticeable but not distracting. Steering wheel-mounted controls help you navigate certain basic functions and there's a mini display mounted between the main dials that shows radio station, sat-nav instructions and so on.

picture of car in detail

New supercharged petrol is very powerful but thirsty

Colours and trim

Darker metallic hues give the car an added layer of respectability, whereas brighter colours are less suited to its subtle styling. The chrome trim around the grille only adds to the executive experience. Inside it's as you would expect from Audi; modest slivers of chrome dotted throughout, while the optional leather upholstery looks and feels of high quality.

Parking

It may not feel it from the inside but make no mistake, the A6 Avant is a big car. Thank goodness that the steering lightens up for parking, making the job of manoeuvring the car relatively straightforward. Forward visibility is good, but rearwards the view is easily obscured by backseat occupants.

Spare wheel

Space saver fitted beneath the boot floor.

 

Range information

Petrol engine options - 2.0-litre (168bhp); 2.8-litre (217bhp); 3.0-litre (286bhp). Diesel engine options: 2.0-litre (134bhp and 178bhp); 2.7-litre (187bhp); 3.0-litre (237bhp). Transmission options: six-speed manual gearbox, six-speed Tiptronic automatic gearbox, seven speed continuously variable Multitronic automatic gearbox. Four-wheel drive on Quattro models. Trim levels: Standard, SE, S-Line.

 

Alternative cars

BMW 5 Series Touring More sporty to drive than A6 but styling not universally liked

Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate Capacious and elegant but built more for comfort than speed

Volvo V70 Lacks the badge appeal of its German rivals but no less practical

Volkswagen Passat Classy and practical as well as good to drive



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December 2008