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Review and photos by Haney Louka
2009 Audi A6 Avant 3.0T
Winnipeg, Manitoba – I’ll admit it right from the start: I’m a wagon man. It’s a body style that has been shunned by a whole generation to the point where automakers have had to come up with hipper names than “wagon” to stir up interest in their hatched conveyances, usually with the word “sport” strategically placed in the title. Today it’s more common to see companies jacking them up a couple of inches, changing the name completely, and calling them crossovers. But there’s no way around it: a wagon is the best way to get practicality and performance in one vehicle. And done right, it can be quite the looker as well. And my, has Audi done this one right.
The subject of my adoration this week is Audi’s A6 Avant with the company’s new supercharged 3.0-litre V6 powerplant, which I’ll get to in a moment. Before you accuse Audi of using the Avant name to make its wagons sound cool, let the record show that the company has been using this name in North America since the ‘80s when the minivan was in its infancy and wagons were actually still cool.
The A6 is Audi’s mid-sized car line, slotting neatly between the A4 and A8 in size and price. While a variety of engines (two V6s and one V8) and drivetrains (front- and all-wheel drive) are available in the A6 sedan – and then there’s the V10-powered S6 – the Avant comes exclusively with the mid-level 3.0T V6 and quattro all-wheel drive.
2009 Audi A6 Avant 3.0T. Click image to enlarge
Audi has long used a “T” suffix to denote that forced induction in the form of turbocharging was taking place under the hood, but this one is different. The 3.0T is actually force-fed its air via a mechanical supercharger, providing up to 11.6 psi of boost to the tune of 300 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. Yes, it thinks it’s a V8, with the zero-to-100 km/h sprint taking only 6.1 seconds according to Audi.
A six-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission manages power delivery, and my tester had optional shift “paddles” on the backside of the upper steering wheel spokes.
The A6 Avant features the latest in Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive developments, with a torque-sensing centre differential that apportions motive force front-to-rear according to traction demands (the default power split is a rear-biased 40:60). Front and rear differentials can further influence left-to-right power distribution using electronic differential locks.
As a system, this drivetrain is superb, providing effortless thrust and seamless shifts accompanied by a spirited soundtrack, even though the expected supercharger whine is absent. The big Audi has a tight suspension yet it swallows uneven pavement in stride. Surprisingly, steering effort is a little too light under low-speed conditions, but dial up the g-forces in the corners and the wheel tightens up appropriately.