Audi A6 Avant Estate (2008 - 2011) review
Read the Audi A6 Avant estate (2004 - 2011) car review by Auto Trader's motoring experts, covering price, specification, running costs, practicality, safety and how it drives.The Auto Trader expert verdict: 3.9 An all-new A6 Avant will arrive later this year, but the current model is refined, well-equipped, spacious and good to drive. It rivals the BMW 5 Series Touring and the Mercedes E Class estate.
- Great engines
- Superb cabin
- Very practical
- Soon to be replaced
- Some models have a firm ride
- High running costs
At a glance
As the A6 has aged, Audi has included ever more standard equipment in a bid to retain interest in the model. Entry-level cars are far from sparse, with 17-inch alloy wheels, a 10 speaker sound system, cruise control, dual-zone climate control, powered windows all round and a multi-function steering wheel. SE trim adds a DVD-based sat-nav system, six-disc CD changer, leather trim and an auto-dipping rear-view mirror. Move up to S line trim for and you’ll get 18-inch alloy wheels, sports seats, a sportier steering wheel and xenon headlights with washers. Neither BMW nor Mercedes can match Audi’s generosity.
Nobody gets excited by the exterior design of an Audi, but the company’s discreet design is one of the things its customers find most appealing. The Audi A6 Avant exudes quality, from its LED daytime running lights and prominent grille to its sharply sloping tailgate which sacrifices ultimate practicality for a bit of extra style.
The A6 Avant’s key rivals are the BMW 5 Series Touring and the Mercedes E Class estate. Despite both of these cars arriving a full six years after the Audi, the A6’s cabin can hold its own thanks to a clear layout, excellent build quality and strong equipment levels. The MMI system (Multi Media Interface) fitted to all cars is intuitive and allows quick and easy operation of key functions such as the stereo, sat-nav (if fitted) and climate control, as well as the system preferences for many of the car’s key functions. For years it’s been the best multi-media interface available, and while rivals such as BMW and Mercedes have started to catch up, they’re not there yet.
Even the slowest A6 Avant, the 2.0TDIe, can manage 127mph and 0-62mph in 10.7 seconds. The 2-litre TDI 170 adds 10mph to this while the 2.7-litre TDI has a top speed of 142mph. If performance is key for you, the most extreme A6 Avant – short of the V10-powered S6 and RS6 – is the 3-litre TFSI. This is restricted to 155mph and can get to 62mph in 6.1 seconds. Your best bet is to go for the 3-litre TDI V6. As a diesel it’s got masses of pulling power (369lb/ft) so it accelerates to 62mph in just 6.8 seconds before topping out at 152mph – but it’s much more frugal.
As one of the largest estate cars on the market, the Audi A6 Avant is very practical. Capable of swallowing up to 1660 litres with the rear seats folded, and 565 litres with them in place, and there’s ample stowage space too. This compares favourably with the BMW 5 Series Touring, with its 560 or 1670 litres, but nothing can touch the Mercedes E Class estate which can swallow 1950 litres with the seats down and 695 litres with them up. When it comes to towing, the A6 Avant’s only real rivals are the Volvo V70 AWD and XC70. The Audi is available with quattro four-wheel drive, which makes the A6 Avant incredibly sure-footed.
With a reputation for excellent reliability, buying an A6 should provide peace of mind. The superb build quality means the cabin tends to last well, with creaks and squeaks absent from most cars, even after a huge mileage. The few problems that have shown up have usually been because of software glitches, although an update normally provides an effective cure. However, TDI diesel engines can use a lot of oil, while pollen filter seals can fail, leading to a waterlogged cabin. But a specialist will know about these potential issues and be able to deal with them.
Ride and handling
Because of the A6 Avant’s longer wheelbase it rides well, considering the suspension is quite firm and the smallest wheels are 17-inch. Many A6 Avants come on bigger wheels, which can destroy the ride if combined with sports supension, so avoid test driving one spec of car then ordering another. Where the A6 can’t match rivals such as the BMW 5 Series Touring and the Mercedes E Class estate is with its handling. While its rivals are rear-wheel drive, the Audi is front or four-wheel drive, which tends to corrupt the steering to a degree. However, such criticism is nit-picking, as the A6 Avant is still one of the best cars in which to cover huge mileages.
Big cars tend to lose their value quickly and it’s no different here. Unsurprisingly, the diesels generally retain more of their value than the petrol editions, but depreciation is still a major factor in the cost of running an A6 Avant. Despite its size, fuel economy can be another A6 Avant strong point, with the 2-litre TDIe capable of averaging 53.3mpg and 139g/km. The 2-litre TDI 170 can return 48.7mpg while the 3-litre TDI V6 edition can officially manage 42.2mpg with CO2 emissions of 179g/km. On a cruise you may well get close to that final figure, but have some fun in the 3-litre TDI and the chances are your fuel consumption will be closer to 30mpg.
The A6 comes with a full five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating. This result is largely down to the Audi’s strength, as it withstands impacts very impressively. The high level of standard safety equipment includes traction control, electronic brake force distribution, anti-whiplash head restraints and two-stage airbags for those in the front. There are also side airbags for the front seat occupants, head airbags front and rear and Isofix mountings front and rear.