New models - Audi - A6 - Avant 5-dr wagon range
First drive: Audi opts for frugal four-pots in A6 Avant
Four-cylinder engines, front-drive enable Audi to undercut rivals with A6 Avant
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5 Jun 2012
AUSTRALIA’S least expensive way into a large German luxury wagon has arrived in the shape of Audi’s new A6 Avant, which from $81,800 (plus on-road costs) is priced at a modest $3900 premium over the equivalent 2.0 TFSI sedan.
Audi Australia has opted to keep the A6 Avant wagon a frugal, front-drive, four-cylinder proposition, with the all-wheel-drive A6 Allroad to be later offered with a diesel V6-only drivetrain.
This makes Audi the only German luxury brand to offer a petrol-powered entry-level wagon, although the 2.0 TDI diesel – $1100 more expensive than the petrol – is expected to account for 70 per cent of sales.
The A6 Avant has historically accounted for less than 10 per cent of A6 sales in Australia – where SUVs have become the default choice for customers who want extra space – but Audi Australia says Avant (and Allroad) buyers tend to be loyal and trade up to the latest model.
As with the four-cylinder A6 sedans, the keen pricing is backed up by a comprehensive standard equipment list, meaning the Avant is by no means shamed by the more expensive BMW 520d ($89,900) or Mercedes-Benz E250 CDI ($108,150).
A6 Avant buyers get a hard-drive satellite-navigation infotainment system with eight-inch screen, 10 speakers, Bluetooth streaming and virtual CD stacker, dual-zone climate-control and full leather upholstery.
Audi also packs in cruise control with braking, parking sensors front and rear, keyless entry and start, auto-dimming interior and exterior mirrors, automatic wipers and headlights, and 17-inch alloy wheels.
A five-star ANCAP safety rating achieved for the A6 sedan should also apply to the Avant and is backed by safety equipment including six airbags, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution, electronic stability control and electronic differential lock.
The Audi’s specification level brings it almost toe-to-toe with the pricier 520d Touring, trading an electric tailgate (with hands-free opening by making a kicking motion beneath the rear bumper) and electrically adjustable front seats with memory on the A6 for self-parking and a reversing camera on the 5 Series.
In return for its circa-$25,000 premium, the Benz E250 CDI wagon gets a few extras such as a third row of seats, fatigue detection, Xenon headlights with automatic high beam and sports suspension – plus its 150kW/500Nm 2150cc turbo-diesel engine is by far the most potent of the trio.
At 4926mm, the A6 Avant is 11m longer than the sedan but it is 4mm shorter, 14mm narrower and 1mm taller than its wagon predecessor.
Despite the slightly reduced dimensions, the longer wheelbase means passengers get more room and the 565-litre boot capacity remains the same as before – 35 litres greater than the sedan – and can be expanded to 1680 litres with the rear seats folded, which is 20 litres up on the previous-generation wagon.
A load-through ski hatch is optional, but Audi provides numerous luggage retaining and dividing devices as standard equipment.
This gives the A6 Avant a slight cargo advantage over the BMW (560L seats up/1670L seats down) but pales in comparison with the E-Class wagon, which swallows between 695 and 1950 litres unless the third row of seats is folded up from their space in the luggage area floor.
Both Avant engines employ fuel-saving idle-stop and regenerative braking systems, driving the front wheels through an automatic continuously variable transmission (CVT) with eight simulated stepped ratios in sport and manual modes, with paddle-shifters optional.
In terms of fuel efficiency, Audi’s diesel Avant is in the middle of the field, its 135kW/380Nm 2.0-litre oil-burner consuming 5.1 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres and emitting 135 grams of CO2 per kilometre.
The 520d Touring – 5kW more powerful but lineball on torque – comes in slightly lower at 4.9L/100km and 129g/km, while the punchier Mercedes is thirstiest at 5.6L/100km and 145g/km.
Audi’s 132kW/320Nm direct-injection turbo-petrol engine is hardly a guzzler, either, consuming 6.5L/100km on the combined cycle and emitting 152g/km of CO2.
On both engine variants, the A6 Avant consumes 0.1L/100km more fuel than the equivalent sedan due to a weight penalty of around 65kg – but weight-saving measures for this generation of car have trimmed up to 70kg compared with its predecessor.
Audi offers several options packages on the A6 Avant, starting with the $3360 Technik pack that, for a claimed 50 per cent discount over specifying the items separately, includes all-round parking cameras with top-view function, Xenon headlights with washers and LED daytime-running lights, four-zone climate-control and a sports steering wheel.
The $5760 S Line exterior package also incorporates the headlight upgrade and adds a sporty bodykit including bumpers and sills plus S Line badges, side ventilation grilles, chrome exhaust tips and a rear diffuser.
For $9350, the S Line Sport pack incorporates the exterior package and adds sports front seats and steering wheel, aluminium interior trim inlays, black cloth headlining, sports suspension and 18-inch alloy wheels, which for an extra $2400 can be upgraded to 20-inch titanium-look items.
When combined with the Technik pack, the S Line Sport pack costs $7150 with 18-inch wheels or $9550 with 20-inch wheels.
Audi Australia managing director Uwe Hagen said the A6 Avant will “add a new dimension” to the A6 range, describing it as the “ideal vehicle for active Australian families”.
The off-road-oriented, all-wheel-drive A6 Allroad crossover is set to return to Australia in the third quarter of this year.
Eight years of double-digit growth for Audi Australia appear to have ended in dramatic fashion in 2012, with sales down 19.5 per cent to the end of April, though the new A6 sedan bucked the trend, rising by 38.5 per cent.
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