top of page

The electrified A6 Avant takes on the mountains

We love wagons: that should be clear by now. When Audi gave us the chance to drive their latest A6 Avant in February we grabbed the keys and drove off.

Interestingly the A6 Avant we'd be driving was quite a special one. We received the 367 horsepower A6 Avant TFSIe 55. This is the plug-in hybrid variant that mates the QUATTRO all-wheel-drive system to an electric motor. The S-Tronic 7-speed gearbox is connected seamlessly to the hybrid powertrain to produce maximum torque (500-newtonmeters) at 1250 RPMs. In the front, the A6 Avant has a classic 2.0l TFSI with a 14.1 kW battery in the back powering the electric motor. The range is limited, but you'll go as far as 50 km on pure electric power alone. This is enough for daily commutes, but how does it function with the combustion engine integrated? Turns out it's one of the more refined hybrids available right now. Just like the Q5 PHEV, the 2.0l TFSI and the electric motor are very well put together. In hybrid mode, the combustion engine and electric motor are working together to produce the most efficient outcome. But the electric motor can also be used as a boost under acceleration. Audi claims a 0 -100 km/h time of 5.7 seconds, but it's closer to 5 seconds. Even though this isn't an Audi S6, it's almost as fast. Considering that the new S6 Avant gets a 3.0l straight-six TDI with fake exhausts, why not take an efficient PHEV that's cheaper to run and just as fast?

Design-wise, the A6 Avant is a straightforward yet elegant wagon. It's probably the most "Audi-looking" Audi currently available. The massive front grille dominates the front end which is flanked by the matrix-LED headlights. We particularly loved the tango red-metallic paint, which is a bold color to put on a sensible Audi wagon. Is it weird that we like it?

Down the side of the A6 Avant it is business as usual; unmistakeably a wagon. The S-Line package does give you some styling upgrades to liven up the overall look of the A6 Avant. Included are red performance brake calipers, 20-inch matte gray wheels, black accents, and sadly some fake intakes. The worst culprit is the fake exhaust at the back which are appalling.

One thing that is maintained discreetly is the interior. In front of the driver sits the amazing virtual cockpit with some analog fuel gauges on either side: one for petrol and one for electricity. Talking of screens, the A6 Avant gets three of them. One virtual cockpit, one for infotainment, and one for climate control. On each panel, you'll find lovely materials as well as ambient light strips. Even the gear lever is wrapped in leather. It's the small things that differentiate the A6 Avant from other wagons. Space in the cabin is plenty, except for one region. Usually, wagons are renowned for their spacious boot. But in the hybrid version of the A6 Avant, boot space is decreased by over 150l compared to the standard version. The reason behind the reduced space is the battery lying underneath. Not only does the battery eat away space, but it also weighs quite a lot.

How does the hybrid powertrain perform in the snow? For us, wagons are made for snow. We couldn't imagine a skiing vacation without it. QUATTRO all-wheel-drive takes care of everything. Driving up an icy mountain road in February is no match for the A6 Avant. The electric motor assists substantially with low-down torque to aid in steep terrain. We didn't expect the A6 Avant to be rear-wheel biased. It can be a lot of fun on slippery surfaces without being too sketchy. The A6 Avant is available with air suspension which can temporarily raise the ride height. We didn't use this feature as often as we thought, but the ride is supremely comfortable on every surface.

Our journey with the A6 Avant took us up to the Bernese highlands where the temperature dropped down to -10°C. Here we could test out one other feature that PHEVs benefit from: heating the car without being in it. This does drain the battery a lot (especially in sub-zero temperatures) but it means you can step inside your car already warmed up. Not only does this save petrol, but it's also convenient. It does get apparent that electric motors and batteries dislike cold temperatures. The projected range drops down immediately way under the claimed range. Not only are you heating the cabin, but the batteries also need to be kept at their most optimal temperature. But we think that this is the exact reason why hybrids are a smart choice. However you are using the battery, the main goal is to save petrol. Every aspect of a hybrid is manufactured in a way to reduce the carbon footprint and fuel consumption. In that way, we love the A6 Avant in PHEV form. It can recuperate energy that would normally be lost under braking and coasting. In a way, you feel more of an environmentalist because you want to maximize the time of pure EV driving. You become more conscious of your consumption and how the different powertrains are being used.

Would we take the Audi A6 Avant over the beloved Volvo V90? The Swedish counterpart is more practical and easier to live with in everyday situations. It has 560l of boot space compared to the A6 Avant which only has 405 in plug-in hybrid form. Also, the V90 gets an electronic sunshine roof as standard. A drag race between the two would be interesting. A claimed 5.3 seconds for the Volvo compared to a claimed 5.7 seconds for the Audi. Soon, there will be an even more powerful version of the Volvo with even more range. We'll see how that plays out in the future. While the Volvo might be faster in a straight line, the A6 Avant certainly is the more dynamic one. The permanent QUATTRO all-wheel-drive system triumphs over the eAWD set-up in the Volvo. Because the V90 is primarily front-wheel-drive, you suffer from a lot of torque steer under acceleration. The A6 Avant always keeps maximum traction, whatever you're doing.

Our final point would come down to the price. As tested, the Volvo is close to 7000.- CHF more expensive but there are no more boxes to be checked in the options list. The Audi lacked some features that other cars come as standard with, like that panoramic roof! While price is a factor, it all comes down to taste at the end of the day. If we forget the Volvo for a moment, the A6 Avant is a great option and a soon-to-be icon.


Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page