New Audi A6 Avant first drive

Audi A6 Avant





As the car industry progressively reduces CO2 and NOx emissions of their petrol and diesel engines required by European legislation,

so the UK Government progressively raises the VED road and Benefit-in-Kind taxes even for the lowest emission and even hybrid models. 

As an example in the recent Budget even the very lowest CO2 models emitting up to 50g/m of CO2 are currently rated at 5% for BIK tax, next year that goes up to 7%, then a year later 9%, then 13% and in 2019/20 16% and VED road tax are not exempt to increases either. 

Fortunately manufacturers are busy introducing lower emission Euro6 CO2 engines to their range. Audi for instance has introduced Ultra versions of their 2.0-litre TDI turbodiesel engines for, A4, A5, A6 and A7 diesel models with more to come. 

Ultra in my dictionary means ‘beyond’ or ‘extreme’ so my latest test drive in the mid-life refreshed Audi A6 Avant estate 2.0-litre TDI Ultra S-line. This should be a good example of Ultra and how better performance, improved fuel economy with lower emissions at no extra cost is achieved. The latest A6 Saloon also gains the Ultra engine for the new model year. 

The new potent 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine sees power increased from 175bhp to 187bhp (190PS). There is 20Nm more torque as well, up to 400Nm from 1,750rpm. Fuel economy for the Avant model in the Combined Cycle soars from 55.4mpg up to 62.8mpg with CO2 emissions falling to 118g/km from 135g/km with the optional 19-inch wheels. 

Under the new VED and BIK tax levies introduced from April this means the Avant test car is £0 for the VED First Year tax rate and then £30 for Year Two onwards and 21% for BIK company car tax. With the old non-Ultra technology engine it would be £130 every year for VED and 25% BIK. 

Whilst top speed remains at 140mph the zero to 62mph acceleration time is 8.5-seconds instead of 9.0-seconds. Assisting the engine improvements the old eight-speed CVT auto transmissions has been replaced by a fast response seven-speed twin-clutch auto although a six-speed manual gearbox is also available. 

Whichever UK Government is in control over the next few years it is quite clear that taxation is going to increase so what you buy now will have higher cost implications; say in three years time – the normal ownership period for a new car and certainly for company car drivers. So even the A6 Avant Ultra model as tested will increase in BIK tax from 21% now to 25% in the 2017/18 tax year and climbs to 30% in years 2019/20. No details of future VED road tax increases have been published as yet but be sure they will not be going down in cost. 

Whilst we are talking about costs the Audi A6 Avant 2.0 TDI Ultra with the most popular S-Line specification and the S tronic auto gearbox is priced at £37,935 on-the-road but with the usual addition of must-have options the test car carried a hefty price tag of £43,775. This included £1,050 for the 19-inch alloy wheels, not an option I would take as the S-Line with its 18-inch wheels has a more than firm enough ride anyway. 

We know the A6 Avant well has a large, roomy, premium quality executive estate with ample room for five passengers and 565-litres of luggage space which increases to a substantially 1,680-litres with the rear seats folded. For the mid-life refresh there have been minor tweaks to the styling and specification which adds further to the Avant’s refinement. Like most other Audis the interior design and quality is a masterclass for competitor BMW and Mercedes models. It is neither bland nor garish – you know real quality when you see it. 

Audi A6 Avant Audi A6 Avant Audi A6 Avant

Core to this road test is the new Ultra specification engine. Some VW Group TDI turbodiesel engines can sound a bit rattley depending on which of the four main brands they are used in. With the Audi A6 Avant the four cylinder unit is very muted. It is well insulated with a cover over the unit to reduce noise outside and sound deadening materials behind the engine bay isolate noise from inside the cabin. Even under load it doesn’t sound course and there was virtually no vibrations transmitted though the pedals or steering wheel. 

The increase in mid-range torque is most noticeable and even in an estate car nearly five-metres long and with a gross vehicle weight of 2,355kg the performance is not dulled and the fuel economy is still good. Perhaps it is better on paper than in real-life because my week long driving spell returned an overall average of 43.7mpg, a lot lower than the official 62.8mpg figure with the 19-inch optional wheels. My test driving included several longer motorway trips, plus the usual country A/B roads and some in-town driving; sort of the average most drivers come across. But in my opinion the overall figure I achieved was impressive enough for an estate of this size and quality. The car in fact returned an average 52mpg for one motorway journey driven at 70mph so the potential is there for good fuel economy. 

For the short journey drivers the good news is that the engine has a stop-start system which activates promptly with the new silky smooth gear changing auto transmission. There are CO2 and NOx catalytic converters and a maintenance free diesel particulate filter fitted within the exhaust system so again continuous short trip motoring shouldn’t be a clogging issue for the system. 

With the S-Line specification the A6 Avant has sportier exterior styling, a slightly firmer ride and with the optional 19-inch wheels it was firmer still. But the handling and road holding was surprisingly good for such a large front wheel drive car and only impacts from the worst of the potholes resonated into the cabin. The steering is well-weighted and can be adjusted along with throttle response and ride by using the Audi DriveSelect function. It is easy to adjust the latest A6 Avant (and Saloon) to focus more on economy, comfort or performance. 

In its 2.0-litre turbodiesel sector it is now the clear class leader and lives up to its new Ultra classification. 

MILESTONES: Audi A6 Avant 2.0-litre TDI, Ultra S-Line, S tronic, 190PS. Price: £37,935. Engine/transmission: 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder, high pressure direct injection diesel with turbocharger and intercooler, CO2/NOx catalytic converters and maintenance free diesel particulate filter, 187bhp (190PS), 400Nm of torque from 1,750rpm, 7-speed dual clutch automatic. Performance: 140mph, 0-62mph 8.5-seconds, 62.8mpg (19-inch wheels) (43.7mpg on test), CO2 118g/km, VED road tax £0 First Year rate and £30 thereafter, BIK company car tax 21% from April. Insurance group: 33E. Warranty: 3-years/60,000-miles. Dimensions/capacities: L 4,943mm, W 1,874mm, H 1,461mm, boot/load space 565 to 1,680-litres. For: The Ultra engine specification changes live up to its name and moves this vehicle to a class leader for performance and fuel efficiency, styling upgrades add to the gloss of this highly polished performer. Against: Pricey to buy but reduces running costs in the longer-term.  Miles Better News Agency

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