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Too Lovely For Luggage-Lugging

Mar 2, 2008
Nobody does diesel like Audi. And no-one makes a more exciting estate car, either. So put the two components together and it's one impressive package.

The car in question is the awesomely powerful, sleek and rather beautiful Audi A6 Avant 3.0 TDI quattro - a V6 diesel-powered luxury estate with devastating acceleration, the smoothest of smooth deliveries, incredibly useful luggage area and the ability to still return around 33mpg overall. No wonder Audis are so popular.

Audi's big A6 Avant estates are even more versatile than their predecessor, being 14cm longer and 4.5cm wider, though the sleek roof is actually 1.4cm lower, giving it a more sporty side profile.

New A6s are also considerably more rigid and boast a longer wheelbase, so that ride and handling are improved - and front and rear passengers also gain more knee room.

The long, elegant estate version I have been testing is powered by Audi's amazing 3.0 V6 turbo diesel engine - just one of Audi's oil burners that is so hushed and refined that it seems it must be a petrol model.

The growling, lightweight engine also has a sporty rasp that's decidedly non-diesel and huge performance right through the rev range - it storms to 62mph in 7.6 seconds and can make it all the way to more than twice the legal UK limit, given the right track or autobahn to really opens its lungs and let go.

Even within our own road restrictions, it's a highly satisfying drive. The A6 Avant always feels well planted on the road, authoritative and commanding, with superb steering control and plenty of involvement.
On the test model, the legendary all-wheel quattro drive enabled the big estate to tackle cornering with complete confidence and massive adhesion.

Practically, the A6 Avant is a highly competent luggage lugger. When the rear seats are folded, the almost-flat load floor could easily sleep two people side by side if push came to shove.

The load floor is also bumper-level, making it easy to slide stuff on and off, and chrome slide rails and a kickplate are classy touches. The floor can also be folded up as a standard feature and be locked in a variety of positions to divide up the load area. A lower load area has a large, integrated plastic tray, useful for storing muddy boots etc.

One thing you never have to worry about with Audi is build quality. Doors shut with a satisfying thud and are perfectly weighted to balance open at a number of points, and shutlines and paintwork are top quality.

The Avant's interior is typical Audi - smart but understated and very tasteful. The test car's all-leather seats were wide, with long cushions and generous side support. Surprisingly in such a high-tech car they were manually adjustable but could be easily fine-tuned for exactly the right position.

A low-level dashboard slopes downwards and takes up little space, so the front of the car doesn't seem to remote, and major displays are a stylish white on black for clear readout, though the speedo numbering runs 20/40/60, making the important 30mph and 70mph marks harder to spot.

Extra cockpit space is freed up by an electromechanical parking brake - a small and simple trigger lever than can be touched on and off by fingertip, replacing the traditional cumbersome and dated central handbrake.

Delving into the complicated and user-unfriendly information and audio displays brings up a whole new world of on-screen technology that I really don't have time or inclination to scramble my brains over.

Yes, I know there has to be a way of storing and accessing such a mountain of information but do we really need it all and couldn't it be made easier to use on the move?

But if you have a 10-year-old in the car, they'll probably think it's a piece of cake...


Audi A6 Avant 3.0 TDI quattro (A6 prices from 24,535-45,000).
Even more versatile Avant estate now boasts 1,660 litres of load space.
Powered by 3.0-litre V6 TDI engine with 233PS and six-speed tiptronic automatic gearbox.
Ride and handling benefit from 34 per cent increase in body rigidity compared with previous model and 83mm extra wheelbase length.
Quattro permanent four-wheel drive.
Electromechanical parking brake as standard, freeing up space.
Light and rain sensor as standard.
Speed-dependant servotronic steering as standard.
Avant luggage capacity 565-1,660 litres.
Avant length 4933mm.
Servicing up to 22,000 miles or two years for six-cylinder TDI models.
Warranty: 3 years/60,000 miles; 3 years paint; 12 years rust protection.
About the Author
Visit http://www.motorstoday.co.uk for new or used cars as well as car reviews and hints and tips for buying a new or used car
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