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The Audi A6 Avant combines the same sharp looks, high build quality, refinement and punchy efficient engines of the saloon, in a more spacious and versatile package. The engine line-up comprises a four-cylinder 2.0 litre Ultra diesel and a choice of more powerful six-cylinder 3.0 diesels. For performance fans there’s also a sports car beating 4.0-litre petrol twin-turbo V8 RS6 Avant, which can blast to 62 mph in under four seconds. For buyers needing something more off-road orientated, there’s the Audi A6 Allroad.

Three trim levels make up the A6 range: SE, S line and Black Edition.

Tested here is the 190PS 2.0 litre diesel, which although not as rapid as the bigger engines in the range, is nevertheless smooth and offers strong, useable performance – helped by a generous 400Nm of torque on tap from 1,750 to 3,000rpm. This effortless drivability is combined with good fuel economy of 64.2 mpg.

In terms of handling prowess, the A6 Avant also impresses, demonstrating high levels of grip and agility through corners. Steering is also precise and accurate, if lacking the feel found in the Mercedes E-Class and BMW 5-Series.

Ride quality on SE models is pretty pliant, but sportier S line trim cars fitted with bigger wheels do exhibit a noticeably firmer ride – especially at lower speeds in town. Refinement levels impress, with this 2.0 litre diesel motor remaining surprisingly hushed for a 4-cylinder oil-burner, with hardly any vibration being felt through the controls.

Standard fitment on this latest A6 range is a completely redesigned seven-speed S tronic twin-clutch transmission, which replaces the eight-speed multitronic CVT previously used in four-cylinder models. It’s a big improvement, changing gears more quickly and feeling much more responsive. Step inside the A6 Avant and you’re greeted with an exquisitely well made and ergonomically designed dashboard, which is notably free from too many buttons and switches. Seating is comfortable and supportive and there’s more than ample head and legroom for all occupants. A well-shaped 565 litre boot also ensures there’s plenty of load lugging space and this extends to 1680 litres with seats lowered. Also worthy of note are the plethora of load lashing points, straps and even an optional hands free boot opening system that’s activated by waving your foot below the rear bumper.

Equipment wise the A6 Avant is well catered for, with even this entry-level SE trim car coming with alloy wheels, full leather upholstery, MMI Radio Plus with 6.5-inch retractable colour display and DAB digital radio, SD card-based satellite navigation, light and rain sensors, cruise control, keyless go and the Audi parking system plus with acoustic and visual guidance One complaint with the Audi’s driver environment is the MMI infotainment system, which is operated by a rotary dial, in conjunction with onscreen menus. Although it offers plenty of functionality, accessing the various menus and submenus is rather clunky and cumbersome compared to the majority of touch-screen operated systems.

Verdict:
It might not quite as good to drive as a BMW 5-Series or as capacious as a Mercedes E-Class estate, but the Audi A6 Avant remains a very appealing rival, thanks to its classy looks, great build quality, refinement  and high levels of efficiency. 

Tech spec:
Audi A6 Avant 2.0 TDI 190PS Ultra SE S tronic 
Price: £35,875
Engine: 1968 cc 4-cylinder turbo-diesel
Max Power: 190PS
Max Torque: 400Nm 
Max Speed: 140 mph
0-62 mph: 8.5 seconds
Economy: 64.2mpg
CO2 Emissions: 114g/km