Whether that’s quattro technology, TT-style or out-and-out performance through the wheels of the R8, but it’s also been piling up sales with estates.
The runaway demand for its RS4 and RS6 estate or avant models over years is probably better known than the popularity of its 100 and then A6 wagons, and the A6 last year saw a rough 55/ 45 split between saloon and avant and totalled about 16,000 combined sales.
That’s an impressive record when you also remember it has a multitude of modern SUVs in its showrooms and you wonder why. The first Audi 100 avant appeared in 1977 so they have been onto a good thing for over 40 years.
Audi A6 product manager Matt Rance (right) offered an explanation at the launch of the 2019 A6 Saloon and Avant this week, saying, “Our customers love estates and probably really use them as we intended and value them for their practicality and performance.
“We have every confidence in these new models continuing where the old ones left off. In recent years we have also seen a slow but steady increase in sales of avant models throughout our range as more are seen on the roads and buyers want to experience them.
“There is no reason the think that the avant sales will not continue rising as we roll out more models with all the practical and modern technology we have been developing.”
There is also the growing realisation that there are now so many SUVs in the market their uniqueness and cache is diminished as they begin to look alike, and they represent a big investment with higher costs than a traditional hatchback, but what do you do if you need the SUV space? Enter the estate.
Some canny manufacturers have seen this coming for a few years and have designed estate versions of each new hatchback while hedging their bets and budgets with an SUV from the same platform. You just cannot put all your eggs in one basket and produce an omelette when a customer wants something more substantial or different.
The new Audi A6 Saloon and Avant ranges are being launched with a choice of 204ps 2.0 four-cylinder 12v mild hybrid seven speed automatic or 286ps 3.0V6 48v mild hybrid eight-speed automatic, both diesel engines. Petrol versions will follow as will intelligent on demand 4WD and permanent mechanical 4WD derivatives.
Depending on trim and packs chosen you can select from four suspension systems.
There are Sport and S-Line trim levels but owners can choose from four packs of 39-features put together under the headings of comfort, technology, touring and assistance. They largely come from the bigger A8 which is the platform for the latest technology but now find their way into the A6 series.
The newcomers are roughly the same overall size as the outgoing series except they have a longer wheelbase to improve passenger space and despite its sloping profile the A6 Avant packs in up to 1680 litres maximum, as much as the slightly boxier previous generation estate.
Mr Rance said they will sell 60% with the 2.0 engine, designated 40 under the company’s numerical system, compared to 40% for the 3.0 so-called 50 models, and the majority will be the S-Line as the premium specification better holds onto value at resale and among the number-crunching leasing and business buyers which comprise most sales.
The A6 Saloons go from £38,640 to £50,470 depending on chosen engine while the A6 Avant series is priced between £40,740 and £52,885.
The space inside the new A6 cars is really impressive, particularly for those in the back, and the Avant’s loadbed is easy to use and cavernous beneath a long cover.
I first tested the A6 40-Saloon Sport and despite its steel sprung chassis it rode well, had a refreshing lightness to its handling and returned an indicated 44.2mpg over a mixture of main and country roads.
The 50-Avant S-Line came with self-adjusting suspension and rear wheel steering, which not only reduced the turning circle when going slowly but also enhanced high speed responses and made it feel more planted sweeping through rising and falling bends. That showed 32.5mpg on the same route.
The hybrid assisted drive was seamless and provided useful extra urge for safe overtaking while noise levels were low from the powertrain but more noticeable from the road beneath.
The automatic normal and sport mode transmissions were velvet smooth and instantaneous in action when you need to overtake.
They are all competitively priced against rivals and offer cutting edge technology on a scaleable basis within a very roomy cabin with the projection of good resale value.
|Fact file||Audi A6 Saloon 40 Sport (anticipated best seller)|
|Insurance: 36E||Price: £41,110 ( as tested with sports seats and tech pack £45,655)|
|Mechanical: 204ps 4cyl 2.0 litre turbo diesel mild hybrid, 7sp automatic, front wheel drive|
|Maximum speed: 155mph||0-62mph: 8.1sec. Combined MPG: 62.8 ( on test 44.2)|
|CO2: 117gkm||Tax band: G, £475x5yrs, £140SR|
|Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles||Sizes: L4.94m, W2.11m, H1.46m; Kerb 1645kg; Bootspace 530 litres|
|For: Very roomy with good boot, handled well and comfortable, quality feel and look to interior, excellent powertrain.
Against: Road noise, cost to buy and BIK penalty with diesel engine, average warranty.
UK images by Jordan Butters