Thursday, November 25, 2010

Car review: Audi A6 3.0 TDI Avant

Model (Code / Model Year): Audi A6 3.0 TDI Avant Quattro (4F / 2010)

Engine: 3 liter 6-cylinder diesel engine
Transmission: 6 speed automatic tiptronic transmission
Paintwork & Interior + interior trim: Ibis White; leather Milano black + brushed aluminum trim
Optional Equipment: S-Line package (Sport suspension 30mm lower, S-line badging, 3-spoke sport steering wheel, black headliner, sport seats, S-line front- and rear bumpers), Black styling pack (grille & roof rails), seat heating for the front seats, lumbar support, privacy glass, xenon plus headlights, electric tilt-and-slide glass sunroof, automatic boot lid, automatically dimming mirror, dual zone climate control, lighting package, armrest, cruise control, front & rear park assist, MMI navigation plus, Audi sound system, voice control, bluetooth
Performance: 240hp / 500nm
0 to 100km/h: 7,0sec
Top speed: 245km/h (153mp/h)
Weight: 1845kg
Fuel tank (US gallons): 80 liter (21.13 US gallons)
Fuel consumption in liter / 100km (U.S. miles per gallon): 10,4 liter / 100 kilometer (22,62mpg / US)
Price (Germany): €67.000
4F engines driven: 2.7 TDI, 3.0 TDI

Walkaround of the Audi A6 3.0 TDI Avant with S-line package:

In the rivalry between the Mercedes Benz E-class, BMW 5-series the Audi A6, the latter one is the oldest on the market, having been introduced in 2004. But how well does it fare against the newer competition?

1. Exterior

Audi's design is tailored around simplicity, no progressive and controversial lines, but smooth and simple yet elegant. By trying to keep the design simple, Audi is trying to be everybody's friend, and to appeal to as many different tastes possible.
But still Audi wants to convey a modern image, and the 2008 facelift has brought this in the form of LED-lights in the headlamp units. Some other minor changes in the design of the tail and fog lights have been made, but they are only noticeable to the trained eye.
This Ibis White Audi A6 has been fitted with the optional S-line package, both for the exterior and interior. It comes with 18-inch alloys (not fitted on the pictures, those are 17-inch winter tires), S-line badging left and right, a lowered suspension and altered front- and rear bumpers.

2. Engine, Transmission & handling

Several engines are available on the Audi A6, in this review the 2.7 TDI and 3.0 TDI. The main difference of both engines is the displacement, the driving characteristics feel the same although the 2.7 TDI is slower at high speeds. But from the point of engines noise and general feeling, they are similar.

Turning to the 3.0 TDI with the Quattro all-wheel drive system. Engine noise seems to be somewhat higher then in the BMW 5-series E60, while the engine sound itself also is more crude, getting annoying when accelerating. However, the 240hp is excellent, there is always enough power available to master any situation, at both high and low speeds.

But only power is not enough, the car should also be able to put it on the road. The Quattro-system ensures that enough power is transferred into acceleration, while "normal" FWD or RWD cars will have its power cut by the electronic aids. However, the Quattro-system does increase fuel consumption and reduce slightly performance.

All the Audi A6 that are equipped with the Quattro-system have a "Tiptronic" automatic transmission (6-speed), while the front-wheel-drive A6 are fitted with a "Multitronic" automatic transmission (6-speed). Multitronic is a "shiftable" CVT with preprogramed ratios to immulate a regular transmission with gears, while the Tiptronic is just a standard automatic transmission. Gearshifts of the automatic transmission are almost not noticeable, only the change in revs of the engines lets the driver know that gears are being changed. Compared to BMW or MB, the Tiptronic transmission is a bit slower to respond to the drivers input.

Handling of the Audi A6 is said to be in between the comfort of Mercedes Benz, and the sportiness of BMW. A compromise is a trade-off in which neither side is perfect, and in this case the A6 lacks comfort yet has not the same driving pleasure as the BMW. It is somewhat heavy and detached from the road, resulting in a more passive driving experience. However, even the sports suspension of the S-line package never is too uncomfortable, so the car is suited for long-distance traveling.

But the handling is not only influenced by the suspension, Audi offers both the Quattro-system and a front-wheel-drive version of the A6. As the car already puts a strain on the front axle, the FWD-versions are not able to cope with the amount of power in excess of 170hp. When driving fast corners or accelerating quickly, a heavy strain is put on the front axle. This results in a nervous handling, which can be felt in the steering wheel, while also creating a tendency to understeer.

3. Interior & Technical Features

The build quality in the interior of the Audi A6 is one of the best of its class, it looks very solid, and feels very high-grade. Although the interior is modern and sophisticated, the amount of different colors (red, white and blue) and the buttons don't quite give it the tidy appearance of the BMW.

Sport seats are included in the S-line package, and this A6 had also the optional black Milano leather. Seating position is excellent, and even after longer journeys the driver still has no problems whatsoever.

In the A6, Audi offers HDD Navigation with MMI. Even a layman has no problems to enter a route by using the MMI system, or using the voice control instead. When computing the route to the destination, the driver is offered three different possible routes to choose from. TMC also updated the driver on any issues that might arise on this route, ranging from traffic jams to speeding traps, and offering other possibilities to circumvent the problem.

Although Audi offers SD-card slots for playing music. As SD-cards an unusual medium to store music on, the Audi Music Interface does offer the possibility to connect a USB-stick or iPod. Audi's that do not have the Audi Music Interface can be retrofitted with the system, please contact your local dealer for more information and the price tag.

Inextricably linked to a music interface is the stereo system, this Audi A6 being equipped with the optional Audi Sound System. For the more demanding listener this system is sufficient, it has enough performance to play more demanding music at higher volumes. But the expert listener might want to opt for a more sophisticated system.

One of its largest in its class, the boot space in the A6 is more then enough, though the seats cannot fold flat. The load-area fixing kit is the perfect tool to secure any luggage against swerving around the boot. As cars are usually not the cleanest objects, the automatic boot lid is a useful and relatively cheap option to open and close the trunk without getting your hands dirty, therefore deserving some consideration when ordering.

4.Optional Equipment

This section discusses (part of) the optional equipment available on the W212. Ranking from 1 (definitely a yes), 2 (nice to have, but not a minimum requirement) to 3 (not worth the money).

Privacy glass, mostly for the looks, only limited practical use. (ranking: 2)
Xenon plus, improves the appearance and includes LED's. (ranking: 1)
Electric tilt-and-slide glass sunroof, allows extra light into the car, and in good weather enables the driver to enjoy the wind / sun a bit more. However, at speeds above 100km/h (60mp/h) it makes too much noise. (ranking: 2)
Black styling pack, mainly for the looks, no practical use. (ranking: 2)
S-line package, includes alloys, sports seats and several other options that improve the driving experience. (ranking: 1)
Automatically actuated boot lid, a nice feature to keep your hands clean when opening or closing the trunk of a dirty car. (ranking: 2)
Load-area fixing kit, helps the luggage to stay in place while driving, otherwise the items would be flying through the boot. (ranking: 1)
Electric front seats, makes it easier to adjust the seating position, but is not an absolute necessity. (ranking: 2)
Heated front seats, when the car is cold the leather also feels very unpleasantly cold, the seat heating heats up in no time. The heating is also very enjoyable on long cruises, the relax ones muscles. (ranking: 1)
Audi acoustic parking system plus, helps the driver to judge the distance when parking near objects. The normal system is rear only, without the optical view in the navigation screen. (ranking: 1)
HDD Navigation with CD changer, a very good asset for navigating, the color screen improves the experience significantly. (ranking: 1)
Auto-dimming rear view mirror, during night-time driving the auto-dimming mirror reduces the need to switch the mirror manually from being blinded by other traffic. (ranking: 1)
Quattro all-wheel-drive, improves the handling significantly and enables more power to be transferred to the road. (ranking: 1)

Final thoughts:

A compromise does define the Audi A6, in the respective fields the BMW 5-series is sportier while the Mercedes Benz E-class is more comfortable. But does this mean that the Audi A6 will lose out these competitors? I do not think so, many people are probably looking for just such a compromise. Having a modern yet reserved styling, there will be no offensive taken from the design, the car stays in the background and will not raise too much (unwelcome) attention.

However, the build quality of the car is not a compromise, it is a very high quality car that is on the same level as its competition, if not one of the best. The interior is of the same high quality while it is laid out very logically.

When it comes to the transmission and engine, the car is almost on the same level as the competition, the main drawback being the FWD that is not able to turn the performance onto the road. The Quattro 4-wheel-drive does solve this, but that comes with an increase in weight and fuel consumption.

In short, the Audi A6 is a very good car that does justice to the demands places in a premium brand car. However, as a compromise it does have its small penalties when it comes to the drivetrain. But if these outweigh the positive benefits one derives from this car, it certainly is a good buy.

Fuel consumption A6 2.7 TDI FWD Avant: 11,0l / 100km (21,38mpg / US)
Fuel consumption A6 2.7 TDI Quattro Avant: 9,5l / 100km (24,76mpg / US)
Fuel consumption A6 3.0 TDI Quattro Avant: 10,6l / 100km (22,19mpg / US)

If you might have any questions left, feel free to contact me through the comments below!

Pictures of the Audi A6 Avant in white (3.0 TDI), black (2.7 TDI Quattro) and silver (2.7 TDI FWD) can be found in this gallery (click to enter):

Next episode:

BMW 730d F01

Note, in this review the options and packages in Germany are discussed, so small details might deviate from local standards.

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