What is it?
Audi’s 3.0-litre V6 TDI engine has already impressed us at Autocar and our sister title What Car?, so much so they made the A4 with this very engine car of the year for 2016.
What we have here is the same engine but in the bigger A6, the only difference being that ours has Audi’s Quattro four-wheel drive system rather than the engine powering the front wheels.
The 215bhp V6 diesel unit seems enticing on paper as it claims to propel the A6 Avant to 62mph in 7.3 seconds before happily blasting on to 145mph. But without hitting the pocket quite as hard as those figures and its 1760kg unladened kerbweight suggest, with it producing 143g/km of CO2 and capable of 52.3mpg.
What's it like?
Quite simply, it is a brilliant engine in every regard. It is torquey and gutsy low down and follows it up with a smooth and purposeful burst of momentum. But there is no drama associated with these characteristics, such is the smoothness of the V6 diesel, it is barely audible at the best of times, and when it is, the sound is pleasant enough. And even after several long motorway stints in stop-start traffic the A6 said it was averaging 40.5mpg.
The only real criticism that could be leveled at the 3.0-litre TDI engine, is its propensity to cause a slight vibration to pass through the pedals when cruising at higher revs. It’s alarming at first, but is soon fades into the background as you eat up the miles.
It helps that the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic is so competent and slick about its operation, happily switching between the ratios. Fully depress the accelerator and the gearbox shifts down quickly, while at a cruise the auto will endeavour to find the highest ratio and keep revs to a minimum.
However, if you ease off and push back on, as can be the way in heavy traffic, the gearbox can be ponderous. It seems as if it is confused and as a result it causes a slight delay before it reacts.
The handling is rather sterile, and although the steering is weighty and quick, it lacks the feel or the precision that BMW and Jaguar have managed to extract from the 5 Series and the XF. Nonetheless if you are interested in a comfortable car that is capable of eating up the miles then this won’t bother you one bit.
Our test car was also fitted with adaptive air suspension (a £2000 option), which cushions everyone inside from the indiscretions on the road, although the standard set-up does an equally good job at absorbing the ruts too.
As for the rest of the A6, it is a typical Audi affair, which means you will find a competent, well-finished and economical car. The interior is a fabulous place to be seated whether it’s in the front or the back, and even though the infotainment and controls looks dated compared to the younger A4 and A5, it is still a doddle to use.
The Avant models come with a sizeable boot, although slightly smaller than the 5 Series Touring and significantly smaller than the Mercedes-Benz E-Class wagon, is still large enough to carry what most would want.
Should I buy one?
The Audi A6 is now getting on a bit, and is starting to look its age among younger rivals such as the BMW 5 Series, Jaguar XF, Volvo V90 and Mercedes-Benz E-Class.
However, the Avant is so well put together and capable that it still holds its own. And with the 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine, the A6 is the perfect halfway house between the dynamic 5 Series and XF, and the comfort conscious V90 and E-Class.
Look it at from that prospective and the Audi A6 is still viable proposition, and well worth considering if you are in the market for a luxury, mid-size estate.
Audi A6 Avant 3.0 V6 TDI 218PS Quattro Black Edition S tronic
Where Bradford; On sale Now; Price £59,410; Engine 2967cc V6, turbocharged diesel; Power 215bhp at 4000-5000rpm; Torque 295lb ft at 1250-3750rpm; Gearbox 7-spd automatic; Kerbweight 1760kg; Top speed 145mph; 0-62mph 7.3sec; Fuel economy 58.9mpg; CO2 rating 143g/km; Rivals BMW 5 Series Touring, Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate, Volvo V90