Audi’s designers seem to have something of a penchant for striking a balance between muscular athleticism and refined, handsome good looks when it comes to penning a car. With the possible exception of the Jaguar XF Sportbrake, this latest A6 Avant could just be the best-looking estate – premium or otherwise – currently on the market.

However, despite the A6’s evident good looks, there’s no shaking the feeling that those same designers are becoming increasingly reliant on the same tried-and-tested formula to ensure aesthetic success. As with the A7 and A8, the A6 bears the same enlarged hexagonal grille that dominates the vast majority of front-end real estate, emphasising its width and lending the Bavarian wagon a purposeful, planted stance.

Simon Davis

Simon Davis

Road tester
I think this A6 Avant is the most successful application of Audi’s new design language. To my eyes, it’s much more attractive than an A7 or A8, but then I am a sucker for an estate. The RS6 will be something else.

That said, on the Avant that grille isn’t quite as narrow or expansive as it is on the A7 – perhaps so that the practical estate doesn’t infringe on the fastback’s positioning as the more aggressive, sporting offering in Audi’s larger executive car range.

Side-on, it cuts a rather elegant shape too. The gently tapered roofline flows into a rather aggressively sloping bootline, although Audi claims that extending the A6’s footprint (it now measures 4.94m long) ensured that interior practicality hasn’t been compromised. Meanwhile, the blistered wheel arches – smartly filled by optional 20in wheels on our test car – are an inconspicuous nod to the original Quattro.

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At the back, the most eye-catching new feature is a decorative trim piece that links the redesigned tail-light clusters. Overall, the A6 Avant works as an effective and attractive piece of design, if one that also smacks of conservatism.

The entry-level 40 TDI motor develops a modest 201bhp between 3750rpm and 4200rpm, while its 295lb ft of torque is developed from as low as 1750rpm. Drive is sent to the front wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch ’box. Between 34mph and 99mph, the engine can tick over at idling speeds when coasting in a bid to improve economy, thanks to the presence of a mild-hybrid drivetrain. A belt alternator starter connected to the crankshaft draws up to 5kW of power under deceleration, which is then stored in a 12V battery at the rear of the car and used to restore power to the engine when you come back on the throttle.

Suspension is by way of a five-link arrangement front and rear, with steel springs and adaptive dampers featuring on our car as an option. Lowered sports suspension is available, as are air springs.

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