Just six weeks after the new sedan, Audi has whipped the covers off its A6 Avant, wrapping all the technology from the sedan in a more practical wagon body.
From the front doors forward, there's nothing to separate the A6 Avant from its sedan brethren. It's got the same low, wide single-frame grille and angular headlamps as the three-box car, and the same massaged wheel arches. It isn't a quantum leap forward from the current car, but that's not really how Audi rolls.
Down back, the new load-lugger separates itself from past models with punchier arches – apparently they emphasise the car's all-wheel drive system – and a more aggressively sloping roofline. The tail-lights are joined by a chrome strip, sitting above a greyed-out diffuser and slimline exhaust tips.
Measuring 1050mm wide, with a 565L boot capacity and the usual array of rails, nets and hooks to secure your shopping, the load bay itself is as practical as ever. It expands to 1680L with the 40/20/40 rear seats folded flat, too. Audi is claiming class-leading front and rear elbow room, along with strong rear-seat knee room for the segment.
Inside, you get the same high-tech cabin offered in the sedan. That means a dual-screen MMI system responsible for infotainment and climate controls, along with an optional 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit facing the driver. Depending on who you ask, the touch-first approach is a brilliant showcase of the latest technology, or a fingerprint-attracting nightmare.
As for the drive, Audi went out on a limb with the sedan and highlighted its sporting credentials. It hasn't quite gone that far this time around, arguing the Avant has a "larger spread" of talents, from comfortable to sporty.
A variable-ratio electromechanical steering system is standard, while four-wheel steering is an option. When that box is ticked, the rear wheels turn in opposition to the fronts up to 60km/h for a tighter (11.1-metre, to be precise) turning circle than standard. Above 60km/h the rear wheels turn in the same direction as the fronts for a longer, more stable feeling.
Four suspension setups are available, ranging from passive steel springs to a fully-adaptive air suspension with dynamic chassis control. Wheels up to 21 inches in diameter are available, but the official Audi materials claim ride comfort and noise suppression is "excellent" in all configurations. We'll see on that one.
Power will come from a range of mild-hybrid-augmented engines. Although Audi hasn't specified, we'd suggest the 3.0-litre diesel and petrol engines from the sedan will be offered from launch, making 210kW/620Nm and 250kW/500Nm respectively.
The petrol is mated to a seven-speed 'S Tronic' transmission, while the diesel gets an eight-speed torque convertor. Power is put to the road through all four wheels – because quattro.
Both engines are paired with a 48V mild-hybrid system which, thanks to a smart belt-alternator starter and a lithium-ion battery, allows the car to coast between 55km/h and 160km/h. It also allows start/stop to kick in at 22km/h, before restarting the engine when the car in front rolls forward.
Audi says the system saves up to 0.7L/100km in the real world.
Like the bigger, more expensive A8, the A6 is loaded with the latest semi-autonomous driver assists. It'll pull into/out of parking spots and garages, and top-grade variants come with five radars, five cameras, twelve ultrasonic sensors and a laser scanner, managed by a central zFAS controller.
Speaking with CarAdvice, Shaun Cleary, corporate communications manager for Audi's local division, said: "The new Audi A6 Avant is being evaluated for its opportunity in the Australian market".
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