Audi’s family estate is big, economical and comfortable – and that makes it one of the best cars in its class.
How best to future-proof your car? There’s one absolute rule: if it’s cheap to run, it’ll serve you well while it’s yours, and there will be plenty of people looking to take it off your hands when the time comes to sell.
The Audi A6 is a car people want to own no matter what engine is wedged between the front wheels. It’s an unofficial flagship, a humble standard bearer whose qualities reflect the wider performance of the four-ringed brand from Ingolstadt. You always feel like you’re getting more than you pay for with an A6, and that’s especially true of this version. Look at the tailgate of the estate boot and you’ll see the silver TDI Ultra badge. That means you’re looking at an extremely efficient, tax-friendly vehicle.
It’s just a four-cylinder, 2.0-litre diesel engine under the skin, but it cranks out 187bhp and 295lb/ft of torque. It’s enough to waft the smooth, stable platform along at a comfortable pace while staying the right side of 50mpg and coughing out just 114g/km of CO2. It’s not so long ago that figures like that were the stuff of dreams.
While we’re on the subject of figures you’ll find 565 litres of space behind the rear seats and below the luggage cover. That’s actually a bit less than in a Skoda Octavia hatchback, for example, but when you need extra height for large items, the Avant gives it to you. Ever tried putting four people and a washing machine in an Octavia hatchback?
Leather upholstery is standard, as is a spare wheel, satellite navigation, Audi Music Interface with USB, aux and Bluetooth connections to add to the CD player and DAB radio. The S line trim grade, which has historically been a favourite on these shores, replaces the standard xenon headlights with all-singing, all-dancing LED units which, as well as casting a more natural colour of light, make fog lights redundant.
Suspension that’s 20mm lower on S line cars can be switched out for the standard, softer setup if desired, but the extra fripperies around the bumpers, vents and side skirts are welcome to stay. Behind the S line steering wheel you'll also notice paddles for the semi-automatic mode in the S tronic automatic gearbox. A seven-speed dual-clutch arrangement guarantees super-smooth shifts and suits the character of the big Audi down to the ground.
Hit the road and you'll notice how big the A6 feels inside and out. Its broad and long footprint on the road, anchored by wide tyres on 18-inch wheels – an S line addition – gives the impression of supreme confidence and capability. It even rides respectably. The driver and front passenger will find themselves nestled in wide “sports” seats, which is a bit of a misnomer. Yes, the side supports are more prominent but they’re not obtrusive or – heavens no – boy racer-y.
All A6s now have double glazing on the front windows and windscreen. Suffice it to say that wind roar isn’t a problem, but upgrade to bigger wheels and you’ll start to hear more road noise.
There are a few odd things going on as you settle into the drive and start to poke around. For a car that’s supposedly capable of more than 60mpg on average, it has a fuel consumption meter that only goes up to 50mpg, cramming the whole of the 50-99mpg range into about 5mm on the end of the graphic – a bit of a dropped ball.
Then there’s the strangely elastic steering that seems to suffer a slight delay before reacting to inputs. There’s little or no feel, and therefore no real chance for you and your adrenal glands to engage with the car in an occasional ménage à trois. Instead you simply have to rely on the gargantuan level of grip beneath you to handle the road on its own (which it does mightily well).
The perfect everyday family car should be spacious with a big boot, cheap to run, high-quality and relaxing. The A6, wearing Avant TDI Ultra clothes, ticks the boxes at least as well as anything else under £40,000. It seems bizarre that it costs just £30 a year to tax under the current rules. Despite its supermini running costs, it still cocoons you beautifully in a premium experience from start to finish. It’s pretty future-proof, this car.
THE FACTS: AUDI A6 AVANT S LINE TDI ULTRA S TRONIC
0-62MPH: 8.5 secs
TOP SPEED: 140mph
CO2 G/KM: 115g/km
MPG COMBINED: 64.2mpg
VALUE FOR MONEY: ★★★★★