A snapshot is all we’ve got to go on here when describing the A6 Avant’s potential to be smooth and slick to drive, to soothe away the miles, to carry a heavy load and still handle securely, and to keep you interested in the driving experience as it’s doing so.

There are, as has become the norm with modern executive cars, myriad A6 driving experiences you might end up buying, with four different suspension configurations on the table for a kick-off; with front-wheel drive and two different quattro four-wheel-drive configurations on top; with two different steering configurations to choose from; and, on certain models, an electronic Sport locking rear differential also available.

Simon Davis

Simon Davis

Road tester
Audi’s new A6 Avant premium estate is a refined cruiser suited to those who prefer to be serenely isolated from the road rather than immersively in tune with it

Our car was from what we might think of as the middle of the A6’s dynamic spectrum: it had adaptively damped steel coil suspension, front-wheel drive and standard ‘progressive’ (or passive variable ratio) steering. And the way it behaved – on motorways, A-roads, B-roads and city streets alike – seemed plucked studiously and entirely out of Audi’s time-honoured playbook. There were one or two surprises buried deeper within the car’s dynamic make-up, but nothing to make your eyes widen or your jaw muscles spontaneously relax. This is every inch the old-school big Audi done for the current age.

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The A6’s steering has that isolated feel and monotone weight common to so many of its range-mates; you might dislike it for that sense of artificial connection to the road, or you might approve of it for the way it filters out misleading influences.

It certainly does a pretty poor job of communicating how hard the car’s steered axle is working, though. So, if anything, you tend to ‘underdrive’ the A6 – and then, when push comes to shove, you’re surprised when you find there’s bite to spare under that front end, and untapped grip and body control you might have been using.

The car’s adaptively damped ride has plenty of versatility, permitting a nicely serene gait in Comfort mode that is relaxing without feeling overly ‘soft’ in an old-fashioned, long-wave sense. That ride firms up enough in Dynamic mode to make for decent body control, good steering response (particularly off-centre) and dependable high-speed grip and stability. But you’d never say you felt impressed or engaged by the A6; more so just reassured.

‘Secure’ and ‘stable’ are the words we would use to describe the A6 Avant’s approach to tackling Millbrook’s Hill Route long before anything like ‘engaging’ or ‘exciting’ spring to mind – although that’s by no means intended as a criticism.

The car displayed impressively tight lateral body control through the bends, while a pleasing amount of front-end grip could be relied on here too. There was little in the way of feedback from the steering, but quick gearing made the big Audi feel much more agile than its near-five-metre footprint would suggest.

Thanks to the accessible slug of low-end torque, the car was able to power its way up the Hill Route’s more severe inclines with little in the way of delay.

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