Audi A6 im­presses as saloon and es­tate

Wales On Sunday - - MOTORS WALES -

AUDI suc­cess has been built on the sum of its parts, whether that’s Qu­at­tro tech­nol­ogy, TT-style or out-and-out per­for­mance through the wheels of the R8, but it’s also been pil­ing up sales with es­tate cars.

The run­away de­mand for its RS 4 and RS 6 es­tate or Avant mod­els over years is prob­a­bly bet­ter known than the pop­u­lar­ity of its 100 and then A6 wag­ons, and the A6 last year saw a rough 55/ 45 split be­tween saloon and avant and to­talled about 16,000 com­bined sales.

That’s an im­pres­sive record when you also re­mem­ber it has a mul­ti­tude of mod­ern SUVs in its show­rooms and you won­der why.

The first Audi 100 avant ap­peared in 1977 so they have been onto a good thing for over 40 years.

Audi A6 prod­uct man­ager Matt Rance of­fered an ex­pla­na­tion at the launch of the 2019 A6 saloon and Avant say­ing: “Our cus­tomers love es­tates and prob­a­bly re­ally use them as we in­tended and value them for their prac­ti­cal­ity and per­for­mance.

“We have ev­ery con­fi­dence in these new mod­els con­tin­u­ing where the old ones left off. In re­cent years we have also seen a slow but steady in­crease in sales of avant mod­els through­out our range as more are seen on the roads and buy­ers want to ex­pe­ri­ence them.

“There is no rea­son the think that the avant sales will not con­tinue ris­ing as we roll out more mod­els with all the prac­ti­cal and mod­ern tech­nol­ogy we have been de­vel­op­ing.”

There is also the grow­ing re­al­i­sa­tion that there are now so many SUVs in the mar­ket their unique­ness and cache is di­min­ished as they be­gin to look alike, and they rep­re­sent a big in­vest­ment with higher costs than a tra­di­tional hatch­back, but what do you do if you need the SUV space? En­ter the es­tate.

Some canny car man­u­fac­tur­ers have seen this com­ing for a few years and have de­signed es­tate ver­sions of each new hatch­back while hedg­ing their bets and bud­gets with an SUV from the same plat­form.

You just can­not put all your eggs in one bas­ket and pro­duce an omelette when a cus­tomer wants some­thing more sub­stan­tial or dif­fer­ent.

The new Audi A6 saloon and Avant ranges are be­ing launched with a choice of 204ps 2.0 four-cylin­der 12v mild hy­brid seven speed au­to­matic or 286ps 3.0V6 48v mild hy­brid eight-speed au­to­matic, both diesel en­gines.

De­pend­ing on trim and packs cho­sen you can se­lect from four sus­pen­sion sys­tems. Petrol ver­sions will fol­low as will in­tel­li­gent on de­mand qu­at­tro and per­ma­nent me­chan­i­cal qu­at­tro de­riv­a­tives.

There are Sport and S-Line trim lev­els but own­ers can choose from four packs of 39-fea­tures put to­gether un­der the head­ings of com­fort, tech­nol­ogy, tour­ing and as­sis­tance. They largely come from the big­ger A8 which is the plat­form for the lat­est tech­nol­ogy but now find their way into the A6 se­ries.

The new­com­ers are roughly the same over­all size as the out­go­ing se­ries ex­cept they have a longer wheel­base to im­prove pas­sen­ger space and de­spite its slop­ing pro­file the A6 Avant packs in up to 1,680 litres max­i­mum, as much as the slightly box­ier pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion es­tate.

Mr Rance said they will sell 60 per cent of mod­els with the 2.0 en­gine, des­ig­nated 40 un­der the com­pany’s nu­mer­i­cal sys­tem, com­pared to 40 per cent for the 3.0 so-called 50 mod­els, and the ma­jor­ity will be the S-Line as the pre­mium spec­i­fi­ca­tion bet­ter holds on to value at re­sale and among the num­ber-crunch­ing leas­ing and busi­ness buy­ers which com­prise most sales.

The A6 Sa­loons go from £38,640 to £50,470 de­pend­ing on cho­sen en­gine while the A6 Avant se­ries is priced be­tween £40,740 and £52,885.

The space in­side the new A6 cars is re­ally im­pres­sive, par­tic­u­larly for those in the back, and the Avant’s loadbed is easy to use and cav­ernous beneath a long cover.

I first tried the A6 40-Saloon Sport and de­spite its steel sprung chas­sis it rode well, had a re­fresh­ing light­ness to its han­dling and re­turned an in­di­cated 44.2mpg over a mix­ture of main and coun­try roads.

Of­fi­cially it is rated at 62.8mpg with emis­sions of 117g/km.

The 50-Avant S-Line came with self-ad­just­ing sus­pen­sion and rear wheel steer­ing, which not only re­duced the turn­ing cir­cle when go­ing slowly but also en­hanced high speed re­sponses and made it feel more planted sweep­ing through ris­ing and fall­ing bends. That showed 32.5mpg on the same route.

The hy­brid as­sisted drive was seam­less and pro­vided use­ful ex­tra urge for safe over­tak­ing while noise lev­els were low from the pow­er­train but more no­tice­able from the road beneath.

The au­to­matic nor­mal and sport mode trans­mis­sions were vel­vet smooth and in­stan­ta­neous in ac­tion when you need to over­take.

They are all com­pet­i­tively priced against ri­vals and of­fer cut­ting edge tech­nol­ogy on a scaleable ba­sis within a very roomy cabin with the pro­jec­tion of good re­sale value.

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