While station wagons have almost entirely declined in the United States, they are still very popular in Europe, particularly in the case of mid-size luxury models such as the Audi A6. And manufacturers go to great lengths to make it at least as attractive as its sedan counterparts.
When it comes to the new Audi A6 Avant, that job has been done—in spades. This elegant wagon features a coupe-like rear end inspired by recent Audi concept cars; It is also reminiscent of the Audi 5000 Avant. The looks are subjective, but the A6 Avant’s looks are so sporty that we’d be tempted to choose it over the Audi A7 Sportback, with which it shares its underpinnings and interior design.
At 20 cubic feet, the A6 Avant’s cargo hold, accessed through the large tailgate, is cavernous, and its volume can be expanded by folding the rear seats down. On top of that, it rides just like an A6 sedan (or A7 Sportback), which means its road etiquette is impeccable.
The A6 Avant features the latest Audi cockpit and infotainment system, and its graphics have been overhauled to reflect the style of the interior. With its large dual touch screens and metallic trim, the interior is easily the most modern in its class, and looks more forward than the conservative style that reigns in the BMW 5 Series, its closest competitor. For Audi newcomers, it can take a bit to get used to, but once you get used to it, the system becomes intuitive and easy to use.
In Europe, the A6 Avant offers three diesels: a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 201 hp and a pair of 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 with 228 or 282 hp. We spent time on the most powerful diesel V-6, it’s quiet, smooth and the high torque. It moves the A6 Avant with remarkable authority. But the single-turbo engine takes a while to spool up, and the eight-speed automatic transmission often looks for the perfect gear. The Turbo Lag is still alive and well in this model, and it’s nice to run a more powerful twin-turbo V-6 diesel, which may address lag issues.
There are also two petrol engines: a 245-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four and a 335-hp 3.0-liter V-6 turbocharged. The proven V-6 is a solid performer, but we tried the new turbocharged all-wheel drive connected to the Quattro all-wheel drive system. 245 horses are fed well, propelling the A6 Avant to 62 mph in 6.8 seconds and beyond to a controlled top speed of 155 mph. The soundtrack is smooth as silk, and unlike the V-6’s turbo diesel, there’s a slight turbo lag. The shifting action of the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is noticeably more subtle than that of the V-6 TDI’s eight-speed automatic transmission.
Audi offers several chassis configurations on the A6 Avant. Equipped with optional adaptive dampers and four-wheel steering, the vehicle’s agility is impressive and contrasts with the size of this camper. Steering effort is on the lighter side, and the car stays neutral to the stickiness limits, which is too high to come with a generous warning.
The A6 Avant’s comfort level is identical to that of the A6 sedan, which means it’s smooth, refined and quiet – despite the larger resonance area. It’s an ideal long-distance cruiser, with more room than the A7 Sportback and, subjectively, better looks. In Europe, it’s $2,300 more than the A6 sedan — and much less than the A7. Come on, Odie, bring it to America.
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