Job done

CAR (UK) - - First Drives -

STYLISH BUT NOT fash­ion­able. Up­mar­ket but not flashy. Mod­est but not hum­ble. Techy but not nerdy. Th­ese are the fine lines trod­den by the new es­tate ver­sion of the Audi A6, and quite pos­si­bly by many of the peo­ple who will be drawn to it.

Of­fer­ing vast in­te­rior pas­sen­ger space, a prac­ti­cal rear end, all the kit you can find on the more ex­pen­sive A7 and A8, and some punchy pow­er­trains, it poses se­ri­ous ques­tions about why you’d look at any other type of car.

But does it do enough to dis­tin­guish it­self from the key ri­vals – the Mer­cedes E-Class, the BMW 5-se­ries and the Volvo V90? Pos­si­bly not. While its hand­some looks, tech-heavy in­te­rior and all-round qual­ity are very im­pres­sive, it’s up against a bunch of ex­cel­lent and well es­tab­lished al­ter­na­tives.

The whooshy 3.0-litre V6 diesel (badged 50 TDI) with air sus­pen­sion isn’t as wafty and smooth as an equiv­a­lent E-Class (nor as vast in­side) and it’s also not quite as re­spon­sive to drive as a BMW 5-se­ries.

The all-wheel-steer­ing op­tion is ef­fec­tive at mak­ing the A6 feel much more ag­ile, but it’s never quite as re­fined nor as sporty as you might like when you flick be­tween modes. A stan­dard steer­ing set-up com­bined with adap­tive dampers is much more ef­fec­tive and in­deed re­ally rather pleas­ant.

We’d sug­gest pick­ing the en­try 2.0-litre diesel (badged 40 TDI) in a mod­est spec – Sport or S-line trims are avail­able – and you’ll get a re­fined, com­posed, grown-up es­tate car that just gets the job done ef­fi­ciently and with­out any drama.

TOM GOODLAD

The rings of com­pe­tence

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