Audi's A6 Avant is big and brisk, and boasts lots of luxury features

The Audi A6 Avant's (above) squarish boot allows you to stow things that can be laid flat but not those that stand tall.
The Audi A6 Avant's (above) squarish boot allows you to stow things that can be laid flat but not those that stand tall.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
The Audi A6 Avant's squarish boot (above) allows you to stow things that can be laid flat but not those that stand tall.
The Audi A6 Avant's squarish boot (above) allows you to stow things that can be laid flat but not those that stand tall.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

The last time The Straits Times reviewed an Audi A6 Avant was in 2013. It was a 3-litre bi-turbodiesel paired with an eight-speed Tiptronic transmission and it went like the wind.

Then came a 2-litre petrol turbo with a continuously variable transmission, which was not tested because there were no demo units available.

The car you see on this page is a facelift of the current A6 range. It is fitted with a 1.8-litre petrol turbo mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox.

Despite the smaller displacement, it has 190bhp at its disposal (versus 180bhp of the 2-litre). Torque remains unchanged at 320Nm.

Compared with the 3-litre bi-turbo of three years ago, you might think the 1.8-litre is a bit underwhelming.

  • SPECS/AUDI A6 AVANT 1.8TFSI

  • Price: $245,900 with COE

    Engine: 1,798cc 16-valve inline-4 turbocharged

    Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch with paddle shift

    Power: 190bhp at 4,200rpm

    Torque: 320Nm at 1,400-4,100rpm

    0-100kmh: 8.2 seconds

    Top speed: 225kmh

    Fuel consumption: 5.9 litres/ 100km

    Agent: Premium Automobile

No need to fret. Although not blindingly quick, the car maintains a decent pace and may even be described as brisk at times.

It clocks an 8.2-second century sprint and a peak velocity of 225kmh. While not as impressive as the 3-litre turbo's 5.3 seconds and 250kmh, it is far from shoddy. Especially when the car weighs more than 1,700kg and measures almost 5m long and 1.9 wide.

For such a sizeable wagon, the 1.8-litre A6 Avant actually feels surprisingly adequate. Driven lightly, it keeps up with traffic without breaking a sweat. It shows up its displacement deficiency only when you want to overtake in a hurry or fill a gap that has just opened up.

It will still do so, but just barely. And not without a hefty shove of the right foot and revs piling up high. Thankfully, the engine is both willing and robust. There is nothing worse than a power plant that feels too small and feeble.

Superior insulation plays a part on this front too. Like the sedan, the A6 wagon is able to keep noise, vibration and harshness at bay. Not just from the powertrain, but from the tyres, traffic and wind as well.

Part of this has to do with its double-glazed windscreen and front windows, which are also found in the sedan.

For a big car, the A6 Avant is effortless to steer. Perhaps a bit too effortless, especially at higher velocities. Its heft also shows when you are tracing a wide arc at speed (you feel you have to tighten your hold on the helm, lest the Audi departs from your intended trajectory).

Unlike the 3-litre turbodiesel of 2013, this car does not have all-wheel-drive.

That the car is swift and refined despite its "big body, small engine" recipe is not the only surprise.

The boot, it appears, is not as commodious as its 565-litre capacity suggests.

You would not know until you drive to a plant nursery and try to place a waist-high sapling at the back. It does not fit. You have to move the front passenger seat as far front as possible and place it on the floor of the second row.

But if you are a family of golfers, the big, squarish stowage will suit your needs. A sensor-controlled motorised tailgate makes loading up easier.

The A6 Avant comes with full LED headlamps and dynamic turn signals. It has Google map navigation, wireless connectivity for up to eight devices and four-zone digital climate control (there were two previously).

It averages 10 litres per 100km in the real world. While far from the declared 5.9 litres/100km, it is not too bad for such a big vehicle.

The car is also the only luxury wagon in its size segment with such a diminutive engine. That has to count for something.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 19, 2016, with the headline 'Above average Avant'. Print Edition | Subscribe