A limo or an estate for you, sir?
It was just a little over a month ago that German luxury carmaker Audi lifted the veil on its all-new A6 saloon, a mid-size luxury contender aimed to give cars like the BMW 5-Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, and Volvo S90 a headache. Now though, Ingolstadt has taken the wraps off the more practical A6 proposition, the long-tail Avant.
With the A6 Avant, Audi is going to great lengths to showcase its breadth of ability, and rightfully so. Against the E-Class Estate, Volvo V90, and 5-Series Touring, the Audi A6 Avant has to be more than just the family bus. It also has to be an accomplished motorway cruiser, able to drive the length and breadth of the country should its passengers so desire, including the family dog.
On the familial end of things, the Avant has you covered. There’s 565L of space in the back, which can be expanded all the way to 1680L if you fold the 40:20:40 rear bench. Further, the Audi A6 Avant continues to claim best-in-class elbow room for all passengers and the most generous amount of knee-room for rear occupants, just like the saloon upon which it’s based.
Design-wise, you’ll find little variation between the saloon and the estate up front, so you get the same new Singleframe corporate grille flanked by Matrix LED headlights with a unique light signature (if so equipped, as is the Audi way). But from the B-pillars rearwards, you’ll find a more dramatic roofline than previous-generation Avants, culminating in a tail highlighted by full-LED taillights with a light signature that features an animated sequence when locking/unlocking the car.
The cabin has seen significant redesign for the new model, creating a space that can feed the requirements of both luxury and dynamism, of elegance and individuality in equal measure. There are ‘Basic,’ ‘Sport,’ ‘Design,’ ‘Design Selection,’ and ’S-Line Sport’ packages to choose from, with each variant offering different colour concepts. The use of various materials are designed to underline the “uncompromised” high-quality that is expected of every new Audi.
At the core of the A6 Avant’s cabin is the revised infotainment unit. MMI now comes with a purely touch-operated system, just like the saloon, which in MMI Navigation+ specification pairs a 10.3-inch upper touchscreen to an 8.6-inch screen below (similar to the latest infotainment systems from Jaguar-Land Rover), which together handle all of the car’s major functions. HVAC controls, navigation, entertainment, vehicle settings… most, if not all of these functions are handled by the dual touchscreen interface, which features haptic feedback that aims to increase usability while you’re on the move.
And of course, Audi’s virtual cockpit gets added as standard with MMI Nav+ which replaces the conventional dials with a 12.3-inch widescreen display. The A6 can also be optioned up to feature a full Bang & Olufsen audio system which offers an immersive 3D sound experience, and MMI Nav+ integrates a 4G LTE connection to offer real-time traffic-dependant navigation as well as connectivity via the myAudi app. Via the app, owners can opt to do without the traditional key altogether, instead using near-field communication to turn a compatible Android smartphone into a key.
Audi said the new A6 saloon is a fully-electrified proposition and we predict no difference from the Avant, with all engines gaining a belt alternator starter paired to a lithium-ion battery. As such, the car can essentially launch itself in full-electric mode, and allow the car to coast with the engine off at speeds between 55km/h-160km/h. With the starter, the A6 is capable of increasing the operational speed of its start/stop system to 22km/h, with the engine turning back on again “predictively” as soon as the A6 detects the vehicle ahead has moved. With the belt alternator starter system, the MHEV A6 saloon is capable of saving as much as 0.7L/100km, and we expect to see similar savings from the estate.
While Audi did not talk about powertrain options, the A6 saloon was launched in European markets with two new engines, one petrol and one diesel. The petrol unit, a 3.0-litre TFSI V6 unit, produces a healthy 250kW and 500Nm, capable of rocketing the A6 from rest to 100km/h in just 5.1-seconds, before hitting a top speed of 250km/h. This mill is claimed to consume just 7.1L/100km on the combined cycle, though we’re highly doubtful that that figure will be achievable in day-to-day conditions. This engine is paired to a 7-speed S-Tronic gearbox.
The other mill is a 3.0TDI diesel, which puts out a comparable 210kW but a monstrous 600Nm. A century sprint time wasn’t given, but more importantly, the oiler claims a fuel consumption figure of just 5.8L/100km on the combined cycle. This will likely be of the utmost priority to long-distance drivers and fleet buyers. The 3.0TDI comes mated to an eight-speed tiptronic gearbox.
Both the 3.0TFSI and 3.0TDI come with Quattro all-wheel drive in the saloon, with a self-locking centre dfferential, and the capability to engage rear-wheel propulsion almost instantaneously when it detects the front wheels slipping.
As with Audis of late, the new A6 comes chock full of active driver assistance (ADAS) systems that aim to offer “more comfort, poise, and safety” on long and short journeys. On offer are a Park Assist package, a City Assist package, and a Tour Assist package, with each tacking on a unique set of features. Park Assist adds things like semi-autonomous parking capabilities, as well as ‘Garage Pilot,’ which Audi says can autonomously manoeuvre the A6 into and out of a tight parking space. Garage Pilot is triggered and controlled by the myAudi app, and works as long as you have your finger on the button.
The City Assist package throws in features like a ‘Crossing Assist,’ which wasn’t detailed at all. The Tour package however adds something called ‘Adaptive Cruise Assist’ which adds to the intelligent cruise control a lane-keeping aid that keeps the car in lane over longer periods. Further, this works together with an ‘efficiency assist’ function that keeps you sipping fuel for as much as possible.
While the new Audi A6 saloon has been confirmed for our market, the possible availability of the A6 Avant is no surety. Estates have never been traditionally popular on our shores, so there’s the likely probability that the A6 Avant won’t make it here. However, the A6 Avant Allroad, a jacked-up all-wheel drive crossover-type version of the A6 Avant, may arrive in Australia to take the mantle from the existing model, should Audi Australia be able to make a case for it.