Audi A6 Avant 2018 first drive review

  • Practical version of A6 executive tested
  • Two TDI diesels at launch, TFSI petrol comes later
  • Choice of Sport and S Line trims, plus myriad options

Audi A6 Avant summary

Parkers overall rating: 4.0 out of 5 4.2

No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you – this is the all-new Audi A6 Avant, a more capacious estate version of the latest generation of A6 Saloon, which took centre stage at the 2018 Geneva motor show.

It takes on the BMW 5 Series Touring, Jaguar XF Sportbrake, Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate and Volvo V90 and is available to order now.

Audi A6 Avant (2018)

Audi loves finding gaps in the market and filling them with all kinds of new and alternative models (just take the Q8, Q2, A5 Sportback and A7 as examples), but sometimes you can’t beat the more traditional body styles for outright ability.

The Audi A6 Avant is one of these cars – once the most sensible and most practical car in the German company’s range – it’s back with more tech, more space and more kerb appeal than ever. The latest A6 Saloon has impressed us, so is the more practical version an even better buy?

Audi A6 practicality – is the Avant better than its rivals?

The A6 Avant has shrunk in length compared with the previous-generation car, but a longer wheelbase means Audi’s managed to eke out some more generous interior dimensions for passengers. It’s wider and ever so slightly taller than before, and there’s a generous amount of space for those in both the front or rear seats (excluding the middle seat).

The large glass area makes it feel light and airy, which makes a big difference as the window line does feel quite high in the A6. There’s a good range of adjustment for those sitting in the front seats so you won’t struggle to get comfortable, and even a tall adult will fit behind a tall front-seat occupant without any complaints.

Audi A6 Avant (2018)

At the rear of the car, the A6’s boot remains the same size as the outgoing car. That means a seats-up capacity of 565 litres and a seats-down figure of 1,680 litres. While it’s a usable, square shape with some useful latching points in the rear it trails its rivals.

The Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate offers a whopping 640 litres of space, while the BMW 5 Series Touring just beats it at 570 litres. The Jaguar XF Sportbrake is on a par with the Audi when the rear seats are in place.

There are some useful touches, though. An electric tailgate comes as standard, while the load cover move upwards and out of the way automatically, too. Interior storage is okay, but nothing mind-blowing. The door bins aren’t huge and there’s not a huge amount of extra cubby space in the cabin – it trails the E-Class here, too.

Audi A6 Avant (2018)

Audi A6 Avant engine and gearbox options

From launch, it’s just a pair of diesel engines powering the A6 Avant. Kicking things off is the 40 TDI – a 2.0-litre turbocharged unit producing 204hp and 400Nm of torque, paired with a seven-speed S Tronic dual-clutch gearbox and a choice of front- or Quattro all-wheel drive.

It’s a really refined engine that feels well-suited to the A6. There’s enough torque available when you need it and the gearbox is smooth-shifting most of the time. It’s only when you demand a quick turn of pace that it can get a little flustered, but overall it makes for a relaxed and smooth experience. This isn’t the type of car to be thrashing around anyway, so it suits the car’s more laidback feel. There’s very little noise making its way in from the engine bay, either.

The more powerful 50 TDI uses a 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel engine producing 286hp and 620Nm of torque. This engine uses an eight-speed automatic gearbox that doesn’t feel quite as quick to respond as the S Tronic in the lesser model.

The V6 diesel is very smooth in operation, though, but the gearchanges could be slicker and it doesn’t feel as far apart from the 40 TDI as you might expect. It too is a refined unit though, remaining hushed at all speeds and only becoming more vocal when you really rev it.

There’s also a 45 TFSI petrol joining the range a little later on.

What’s the Audi A6 Avant like to drive?

Audi A6 Avant (2018)

The A6 fits between the E-Class and 5 Series in the way it drives. That’s to say it can’t match the supreme wafty, comfort the Mercedes offers when specified with air suspension, nor can it involve the driver in the same way the BMW can.

On regular springs but with adaptive suspension option ticked, the A6 handles itself very well. The ride is composed, there’s plenty of grip in a corner and it takes a lot to make it feel flustered – far more than any prospective owner will subject the car to. This is the optimum set-up for the A6.

On higher-end cars, air suspension can be specified as well as all-wheel steering. The all-wheel steering works well to make the A6 feel much more agile than you’d expect of such a large car, by turning the rear wheels slightly opposite to the front wheels at lower speeds. At higher speeds, they move in the same direction as the front ones to improve stability.

The air suspension is a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to ride quality, at least if you specify the A6 with large alloy wheels.

It never manages to feel as cossetting and wafty as an E-Class, feeling comfortable enough over some rough surfaces but then thudding into larger bumps in the road. We’d forego this option and choose the adaptive suspension control instead.

Bodyroll – overall – is well contained, again feeling more composed with the adaptive damping system specified. There’s very little feedback coming through the steering wheel though, leaving enthusiasts a little detached from the experience. But it doesn’t feel overly light, with nice weighting to it.

Plus, it’s easy to place the A6 Avant on the road and it would be unfair to mark it down too much for lack of steering feel – that’s the kind of thing sports car buyers look for. The priority here is interior space over anything else.

Audi A6 Avant trim levels and equipment

Audi A6 Avant (2018)

Two trim levels are available to UK buyers – Sport and S Line. Both diesel engine options are available in both trim levels, and all cars comprehensively equipped.

On Sport models, Audi’s MMI Navigation system with two touchscreens comes as standard with all the usual infotainment and media equipment you’d expect, plus alloy wheels, autonomous emergency braking, lane-departure warning, cruise control and LED headlights and front and rear parking sensors with rear-view camera.

Step up to S Line for larger alloy wheels, a sportier exterior style, Matrix LED headlights, sports seats, lowered sports suspension and a different interior trim.

Also standard is an electric tailgate, keyless start, Audi Drive Select driving modes and LED interior lighting.

If you want to add extra kit, Audi will be more than happy to indulge with a vast array of infotainment and sound system upgrades, more advanced driver assistance technology and different designs for the alloy wheels and interior trim.

The Parkers Verdict: Audi A6 AvantThe Parkers Verdict

The A6 Avant isn’t quite as good an estate car as the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate or BMW 5 Series Touring. That’s simply because the boot isn’t as large and practical as these two rivals, and that’s the main reason people buy this type of car.

You need to be careful with how you spec it as well – as the air-suspended car doesn’t ride quite as comfortably as we expected. Go for metal springs but specify adaptive dampers and you’ll get an A6 that is good to drive with a safe and sturdy feel, very appealing interior and lots of gadgets.

It also makes the most sense to go for the entry-level diesel. It offers more than enough power and torque for most, and remains economical at the same time.

Audi A6 Avant (2018)

Stay tuned to read the full review of the Audi A6 Avant when it goes on sale in the UK