Cosmetic, equipment and efficiency tweaks serve to increase the appeal of Audi’s practical A6 estate

What is it?

Hot on the heels of the recently launched high-efficiency ‘ultra’ variants of Audi’s 5-series rivalling Audi A6 is this, the facelifted version.

As well as encompassing the revamped engine line-up, the latest iteration of Audi’s luxury saloon benefits from myriad tweaks. The styling has been revised, with changes made to the lights, grille, bumpers, air intakes, sills and exhausts. The alterations result in a look that echoes the high-performance S6 and imperious Audi A8, granting the A6 a much more muscular look.

Inside, upgrades including acoustically damped front and side glass, quad-zone climate and new trims, which improve the already upmarket cabin further.

There have been equipment changes too; Bi-Xenon lights are now standard on entry-level SE models, while S line versions and above get LED headlights with ‘sweeping’ rear indicators. Standard kit remains otherwise adequate, and includes keyless start, heated electric mirrors and Audi’s media and drive select systems.

Opting for an S line version, as tested here, adds 18-inch wheels, sports seats, leather trim, an S line bodykit and all-LED headlights. Avant versions also feature new lightweight composite springs as standard.

What's it like?

Previously the 2.0-litre TDI S tronic S line would have averaged 61.4mpg and emitted 119g/km of CO2. Now, however, it returns 64.2mpg and 115g/km – thanks to a coasting mode for the transmission and a revised stop-start system.

VED and the company car tax band remains unchanged at £30 and 19 per cent respectively, though, compared to its predecessor; those in the 40 per cent tax band will consequently pay £240 a month in company car tax for the A6. The similar BMW 520d Touring, in paddle-shifted automatic SE specification, will cost a lesser £228 a month.

Pocket the £2450 premium for S line trim and that monthly premium falls to £212, in part because of a 1g/km drop in CO2 emissions – the result of one-inch smaller wheels – that knocks the Audi into a lower tax band.

A 2.0-litre diesel, with a focus on economy, might not sound like a great option in an estate with a kerb weight of 1800kg, but fortunately the Audi’s quiet, smooth engine produces a stout 295lb ft between 1750-3000rpm – and 188bhp between 3800-4200rpm. This grants the Avant adequately swift performance, with Audi claiming a 0-62mph time of 8.5sec and a top speed of 140mph.

The seven-speed dual-clutch transmission remains an impressively swift-acting gearbox. Torque steer is pleasingly minimal in the dry, and traction plentiful, so for the most part the A6 refrains from descending into a cesspit of front-driven scrabblery. Occasionally the transmission can skip to too high a gear at too low an engine speed, in an effort to eke out maximum efficiency, which causes a slight drone – but not a particularly intrusive one.

Even in S line specification, the Audi’s ride is pleasingly damped and well controlled, with minimal body roll in corners and none of the harshness you might expect. Predictably the A6 lags behind a little on the involvement front compared to a BMW 5-series, but its steering is precise, its brakes strong and front-end grip is high.

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Practicality remains a strong point, with plenty of room for five adults in the quiet cabin – although the central rear passenger will have to straddle a fairly hefty central tunnel – and a decently sized boot.  A large 73-litre fuel tank also grants the A6 a potential range of 1030 miles. We averaged 46.3mpg without effort during our test, translating to a 740-mile range – but no doubt attaining more would be comparatively easy.

Should I buy one?

If you're in the market for an economical, spacious and quietly gratifying car then this variant of the Audi A6 is highly recommended.

Those seeking an estate that’s more engaging and rewarding to drive should perhaps opt for the equivalent BMW 5-series, but will have to accept compromises on the refinement front in return.

Audi A6 Avant 2.0 TDI ultra S tronic S line

Price £37,935; 0-62mph 8.5sec; Top speed 140mph; Economy 64.2mpg; CO2 115g/km; Kerb weight 1800kg; Engine 4cyls, 1968cc, turbocharged diesel; Power 188bhp between 3800-4200rpm; Torque 295lb ft between 1750-3000rpm; Gearbox 7-spd dual-clutch automatic

Matt Saunders

Matt Saunders Autocar
Title: Road test editor

As Autocar’s chief car tester and reviewer, it’s Matt’s job to ensure the quality, objectivity, relevance and rigour of the entirety of Autocar’s reviews output, as well contributing a great many detailed road tests, group tests and drive reviews himself.

Matt has been an Autocar staffer since the autumn of 2003, and has been lucky enough to work alongside some of the magazine’s best-known writers and contributors over that time. He served as staff writer, features editor, assistant editor and digital editor, before joining the road test desk in 2011.

Since then he’s driven, measured, lap-timed, figured, and reported on cars as varied as the Bugatti Veyron, Rolls-Royce PhantomTesla RoadsterAriel Hipercar, Tata Nano, McLaren SennaRenault Twizy and Toyota Mirai. Among his wider personal highlights of the job have been covering Sebastien Loeb’s record-breaking run at Pikes Peak in 2013; doing 190mph on derestricted German autobahn in a Brabus Rocket; and driving McLaren’s legendary ‘XP5’ F1 prototype. His own car is a trusty Mazda CX-5.

Add a comment…
bomb 22 October 2014

The test...

...may have averaged 46.3 but I wouldn't say it was real world, you can easily get more out of these. I average 52-53 without having to compromise and whilst that doesn't match the lab figure...what does?
soldi 22 October 2014

Real world fuel economy

An old topic I know, but there's a huge gap between the published figure and the figure you saw in test (published 64.2, real world 46.3), meaning the published figure is 40% higher than the actual.
scotty5 21 October 2014

Potentially great leasing proposition

Whatever the pros and cons of this car, last time I looked there were some very attractive lease deals on A6 Ultra SE's. Not only were they cheaper than the A4, these things didn't cost any more than some very ordinary compact hatchbacks. It's a very different proposition for the private buyer though given the A6's huge depreciation.