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First Drive: Audi A6 Avant 50 TDI quattro

The story:
Audi’s new A6 Avant promises to be an “ideal high-mileage business companion”, and is “more sophisticated and versatile than ever”, according to the brand.
Category:Executive
Key rival:BMW 5-Series Touring
Audi A6 Avant 50 TDI quattro 286hp S-Line Tiptronic
Price:£52,000
MPG:48.7mpg
Emissions:151/km
On sale:Now

Audi thinks the more rakish design of its new A6 Avant could tempt more people out of the saloon, especially as the brand has managed to improve the looks without impacting on boot space, and in a car that’s actually 4mm shorter than its predecessor.

That 565 litre boot is just five litres behind the BMW 5-Series Touring and the same distance ahead of the Volvo V90, although the Mercedes-Benz E-Class dwarfs them all with its 640 litres. Audi claims the A6 beats rivals for rear legroom and cabin length, as well as front knee and elbow room.

2018 Audi A6 50 Avant - image 16

The new A6 Avant is expected to account for 45% of A6 sales, a five-point greater proportion than it had on the outgoing car, and 70% of A6s are expected to go to fleet drivers.

The range starts out with 2.0-litre 204hp and 3.0-litre 286hp diesels, branded 40 TDI and 50 TDI under Audi’s naming strategy; the latter is four-wheel drive, while the former is expected to be more popular. That’s mainly because the front-drive model’s emissions figure of 129g/km is 27g/km lower than the all-wheel-drive car. A quattro version of the lower-powered diesel will follow before the end of the year, along with four- and six-cylinder petrol models. A raised A6 Allroad version is expected in 2019.

The cabin is as classy and high-quality as you’d expect. The A6 gets the same double touchscreen system as the new A8 and A7. The top screen is an 8.8-inch affair, while the lower screen measures 8.6 inches. They’re also both haptic screens, which means you can feel them click. It’s very clever, but buttons are always easier than a touchscreen to use on the road.2018 Audi A6 50 Avant - image 3To drive, the A6 is refined and quiet, but the ride doesn’t seem to settle, particularly on bumpier roads. The auto gearbox also has a tendency to hesitate on occasion.

There’s little to choose on whole-life costs between the A6 and the BMW 5-Series Touring. The A6 maybe shades it on looks and interior, the BMW on driving pleasure and connectivity. And they share identical 151g/km emissions figures. Meanwhile, the excellent Volvo V90 undercuts them both on price. Executive estate buyers have never had it so good.

 

paul barker

The verdict

The new A6 is classy inside and out, but the driving experience is slightly hampered by a choppy ride quality.