2007 Audi A6 AvantPosted on March 15th, 2007
Hot sport wagon
By Nina Russin
The architect Mies van der Rohe once said: “God is in the details.” If that’s the case, the Audi Avant is heaven on earth. Its styling is elegant, its performance athletic, and the interior highly functional. It has the versatility to meet all of our active lifestyle criteria, with much better fuel economy than most sport-utility vehicles.
Power for the test car comes from a 3.2-liter V6: the smaller of two available engines. When combined with a six-speed automatic transmission, it has excellent power: zero-to-sixty acceleration is 7.3 seconds. The quattro all-wheel drive shifts power as necessary to the wheels with the best traction. On the highway, front-to-rear power balance makes the Avant handle like a rear-wheel drive car.
Ground clearance is low: 4.6 inches. Available air suspension allows the driver to raise the car several inches for driving on uneven trails. While the full-sized spare tire adds to the curb weight, it’s a lot easier to drive on than an undersized tire, especially off-road.
Into the scorching sunset
I love driving test cars in the Phoenix summers. The weak ones fail quickly. I’ve seen air conditioners on seventy thousand dollar cars take an hour to cool off the interior, and engines crap out in the middle of rush hour. When the temperature reaches a hundred and ten, daily commuting becomes boot camp for cars.
The Avant is a tough little soldier. When I left for an overnight trip to Tucson, the temperature was 105. By the time I returned to Phoenix the next morning, it was 108. Driving home from north Scottsdale in the late afternoon, it had reached 115 on the freeway. A four-car pileup backed traffic up for about ten miles. Imagine the cumulative effect of several hundred cars idling in the scorching sun with no wind. It’s not pretty.
The Avant cruised through the maze of traffic like a champ: the only noticeable change was reduced fuel economy according to the car’s real-time fuel meter. Acceleration and brakes held steady throughout. The air conditioner worked seamlessly.
Audis are known for their exceptional suspensions: the Avant is no exception. The secret is using lightweight components to reduce unsprung weight. It’s similar to the difference between training shoes in racing flats.
The fully independent setup includes a four-link front suspension and trapezoidal link configuration in back. The rear suspension is a carryover from the A8 luxury sedan. It delivers a buttery-smooth ride, with just enough road feel to make the car sporty. On or off-road, the Avant never beats up the passengers.
Speed sensitive steering adds to the nimble performance by maintaining good feedback and on-center feel at all speeds. The test car has the S line sport package that includes nineteen-inch wheels and high-performance tires. It’s a great option for buyers who live in a warm climate looking for sportier highway performance.
Drivers in the snow belt should either stick to the base package, or plan to buy a second set of rims with winter tires. While the bigger wheels give the car a larger footprint, the low profile tires make is easier to bend a rim off-road. The option isn’t cheap, and it probably isn’t the most practical choice for most people with active lifestyles.
Spacious, versatile interior
The Avant comes with standard cloth: it will comfortably hold up to four adults. The test car has optional leather trim. The seats are nice and firm, and easy to adjust for good lower lumbar support.
The steering wheel has redundant controls for the cruise control and audio system. Since the Avant is Bluetooth compatible, the extra controls allow the driver to mute the audio and answer the phone without taking his eyes off the road.
There is a mouse on the center console that controls audio, temperature and navigation functions. It’s pretty easy to figure out, and there are separate volume and temperature knobs to make those adjustments simpler.
The rear-backup warning system displays a wide-angle view to the rear on the navigation screen: it works whenever the driver shifts into reverse. A series of lines superimposed over the image show the driver boundaries to stay within when backing up. I found the system especially helpful parallel parking in a tight spot.
The technology option package that includes the navigation system also adds Sirius satellite radio: a great feature for anyone who spends a lot of time in the car. It also includes keyless ignition. I still think keyless ignition is a complete waste of money, but it seems to have become a qualifier for luxury cars. At least Audi allows the driver to use a conventional key in the ignition and bypass the start button if he so chooses.
A convenience package on the test car adds adaptive bi-xenon headlamps that swivel to light corners in the road after dark. The headlamps move up to fifteen degrees, depending on the steering angle. They make a tremendous difference in visibility. An upgraded Bose audio system is also part of the package. I haven’t listened to the base audio system, but the surround-sound on the premium package is wonderful. The option also includes a tilt and telescoping steering wheel, and an automatic-dimming rearview mirror with compass.
Versatile cargo bay
A power opening and closing tailgate makes it easy to load up the cargo area. A button on the key fob opens the tailgate. A button on the tailgate door closes it.
The rear seats fold flat to extend the cargo floor, so it can easily hold at least one bike with the front wheel removed. The seats are easy to flip down using levers on the outside edges of the seatbacks.
Cargo tracks with tie-downs help to secure large items. There’s a tonneau cover to keep items in back out of sight. A cargo net on the right side holds smaller items, A twelve-volt power point next to the net is easy to reach from the tailgate. There are two additional twelve-volt power points in the center console for first and second-row passengers.
The center console has one cupholder that’s large enough for a bottle. I would prefer more, especially in this climate. The doors have molded map pockets but not bottle holders. There is also a bin in the center console under the armrest. Separate temperature vents in the back of the center console keep the second-row passengers comfortable.
Roof rails come standard on the Avant, but not crossbars. The specifications for the car don’t include towing capacity.
The Avant is loaded with standard safety features, including front, side, and side curtain airbags, antilock brakes, and electronic stability program.
Even in the warm temperatures, the Avant gets exceptionally good fuel economy. The automatic model averages 19/27 miles-per-gallon city/highway according to the 2007 standards. Having logged over 300 miles on the car, I still have over a quarter tank of gas.
Base price on the Avant A6 is $48,000 not including a $720 destination charge. The Avant is produced in Audi’s Neckarsulm, Germany assembly plant, and is currently on display at Audi dealerships stateside.
Likes: An extremely practical and attractive car that’s fun to drive, and gets above average fuel economy. The all-wheel drive feature makes the Avant an all-terrain, all-season car. The cargo area is easy to reach. Standard cargo tracks and tie-downs make it easy to secure large items.
Dislikes: Not enough cupholders to meet the needs of four passengers, especially in warmer climates.
Base Price: $48,000
Price as Tested: $60,770
Horsepower: 255 Hp @ 6500 r.p.m.
Torque: 243 lbs.-ft. @ 3250 r.p.m.
0 to 60: 7.3 seconds
ABS Brakes: Standard
Side Curtain Airbags: Standard
First-Aid Kit: No
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Towing Capability: No
EPA Fuel: 19/27 m.p.g. city/highway
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