Audi Australia are continuing their relentless push into the mid level premium market, with the release of the A6 Avant. Complementing the extensive sedan range, the stylish wagon brings a number of family oriented simplicities while maintaining its traditional technological armament complementing the luxury feel. Coming into a limited yet competitive market, the A6 Avant kicks off at just under $82,000, sitting between the Mercedes C and E class Estate range and head to head with a similarly engined BMW 5 series Touring.
Under the bonnet, the Avant immediately opts for just two four cylinder motivators. Both are turboed, both twist a constantly variable transmission ‘box driving the front wheels and both, surprisingly, are just two litres in capacity.
The quiet and refined (as you’d expect) diesel and petrol engines are aided by Audi’s decision to use steel and aluminium contruction, reducing weight down to as low as 1630 kilograms. So with 132 kilowatts (petrol) and 130 kilowatts (diesel) combining with plateau like torque (the petrol engine offers 320 Nm from just 1500 rpm, the diesel a stonking 380 Nm between 1750 and 2500!), there’s no need to go to a six and Audi have done a wonderful job of negating torque steer in the front wheel drive system.
Family friendly tech comes with a kick motion operated tailgate opening sensor, placed in the middle underside of the rear bumper whilst a simple press on a button embedded in the bottom of the tailgate lowers and closes the door. On the inside, the new for 2013, Isofix child restraint system is already in place, making fitting and removing child seats a doddle whilst the cargo blind and barriers can be brought up to sit neatly behind the driver and passenger seat, once the rear seats are folded flat. Doing so takes the cargo capacity from 565 litres to a decent 1680 litres, enough for any couple with big four legged kids that go woof. Naturally, there’s a full suite of safety systems such as airbags, ABS and stability control whilst the driver has comprehensive steering wheel controls for audio, phone, satnav and more.
Audi’s luxury feel continues with the high quality interior; passengers are wrapped in supple yet body hugging leather whilst the trim is of subtle wood shades. The multimedia interface is largely intuitive to use, once you’ve figured out how to use it. Offering a selection of ride comfort levels, media playback and the ubiquitous GPS (I particularly liked the twirl of the control dial increasing or decreasing the distance shown) plus engaging a surprisingly non-distractive heads up display, it’s enough to keep a tech-head happy, especially given the display is a 7 inch LCD screen that rises monolithically from the centre upper dash.
It’s on the road, however, where the true nature of the A6 is displayed. During a all too brief flirtation with the two, combining a stint through Sydney roads out past Wollongong and up the true driver’s road of the Macquarie Pass to Bowral and a blast along the Hume back to the city, the class and comfort of the Avant was noticeable by not being noticeable….it was just there. Fully electric seats, climate control and adjustable ride are part and parcel of the Avant while the start/stop system only kicked in a couple of times whilst stopped at traffic lights. The stylish design extends to the LED running lights and tail light cluster integrating harmoniously into the overall look. The manual 8 speed side of the CVT barely got touched, such is the fluidity of the engine and transmission combo. Surprisingly, there appeared to be a touch more torque steer noticed in the petrol car whilst there is some hesitation off the line in both. Once under way, it’s a steady, effortless run around the clock and all too easy to see our mostly ridiculously slow speed limits dispatched with consumate ease, as the sound insulation is so effective in muting even the diesel to a barely heard thrum. The chassis is nimble, supple and responded rapidly to a prod or release of the go pedal while the suspension reduced most of the bumps on Sydney’s roads to a momentary intrusion. On the slick road surface heading up the Macquarie Pass, there was no noticable activation of any traction control, allowing the driver to DRIVE rather than be a computer restricted passenger. Vision forward is great, with thin A pilars allowing the driver to line up entry into a curve with ease.
With a reasonable range of options, such as a wheel and tyre combo or trim change, it’s easy to set the spending dial spinning towards and past the $90k mark, but with such a complete base to start with, one would be happy with either, although with the diesel nudging the 5L/100km figure and competively priced, Audi believes it will be that model finding more homes.