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Battle of the exec estates: New Audi A6 Avant takes on BMW and Mercedes

By Paul Connolly

Audi has unveiled its latest executive class saloon estate – and it’s bigger, plusher and posher than before.

In the latest move to take the battle to the likes of Mercedes-Benz and BMW, the new Audi A6 Avant gets striking design, spacious interior and the latest in tech toys.

It’s based on the all-new A6 saloon, and shows off the latest Audi design architecture seen in its sister saloon, which, like the Avant, will hit our streets later in the year.

The car boasts a 1,680-litre maximum luggage capacity, standard mild hybrid drive, a wealth of new technology including the fully digital MMI touch response operating system and a broad spread of state-of-the-art driver assistance options.

It measures 4.94 metres long, 1.89 metres wide and 1.47 metres high, providing the framework for a cabin that is larger than before, with front and rear elbow room and rear knee room that are, according to Audi, the most ample in a class dominated by the likes of the Mercedes E-Class Estate and BMW 5 Series Touring.

On the outside, the look is sleek, muscular and contemporary, with sharp lines, large surfaces and a distinctive low-profile rear window. A striking roofline flows into the low-profile D-pillar, beyond which is a roof edge spoiler.

Audi says a total of twelve paint colours will be available, and in the UK it will initially be possible to combine these with two trim levels – Sport and S line.

Inside, the cabin has had a further upgrade, with new levels of refinement. Audi says the style features “stylish, minimalist architecture”.

Under the bonnet is a range of four and six-cylinder TDI and TFSI engines, all supported by Audi mild hybrid technology (MHEV) based around a belt alternator starter which recovers energy during braking that is harvested by a separate lithium-ion battery and also enables engine-off coasting at speeds of between 34mph and 99mph to conserve fuel.

An enhanced start-stop function that is active from just over 13mph is also standard.

All models are equipped with either seven-speed S tronic twin-clutch or eight-speed tiptronic automatic transmissions, and quattro all-wheel-drive will be a standard or optional feature depending on model.

A four-choice suspension set-up governs the ride, with conventional steel spring suspension as standard, plus sport suspension, suspension with damper control, and adaptive air suspension, also with controlled damping.

Like rivals such as Volvo, BMW and Mercedes, Audi’s list of driver safety assists gets longer and more sophisticated as time passes.

Amongst these is Emergency Assist, which enhances safety by recognising when the driver fails to act and providing a visual, acoustic or haptic warning. If the driver fails to respond, the system takes over, turns on the hazard warning lights and automatically brings the A6 to a stop in its own lane.  The system then activates Audi pre sense protection measures, such as seat belt tensioning, window closing, and automatically makes an emergency call.

Technology and connectivity are of course major features, with Audi particularly promoting the MMI touch response operating system.

Infotainment and navigation are managed from the top display, which measures 8.8-inches in standard form or optionally 10.1 inches.

The lower 8.6-inch display, located in the console in the centre tunnel, is used for the climate control and for the convenience functions and text input.

A big plus, Audi reckons, is natural language voice control that replies to commands and questions in two ways: with data stored onboard or with knowledge from the cloud (the car has an advanced WiFi hotspot).

The A6 Avant is expected to go on sale soon, with first deliveries by the end of the summer, costing £40k approximately.

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