November 26, 2007
Toronto, Ontario – If you could pick only one word to describe the 2007 Audi A6 Avant 3.2, it would be "smooth". The long, graceful lines speak of aerodynamic efficiency, and once underway, Audi’s big wagon operates in a silken, low effort and low stress manner that melts away the kilometres like so much gelato in the August sun.
Among its German peers, the A6 has its own unique personality. While the BMW 5 Series involves you in the act of driving, and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class has a solid and slightly staid comportment, the A6 3.2 coddles with one of the finest interiors in the business and offers a driving experience that leans less towards sport and more towards relaxed refinement.
The 2007 Avant 3.2 carries a list of $66,200 and is powered by a 3.2 litre FSI direct-injection DOHC V6 that generates 255 hp at 6500 r.p.m. and 243 lb.-ft. of torque at 3250 r.p.m. Coupled to a six-speed Tiptronic transmission, it drives all four wheels through Audi’s trademark Quattro system.
In keeping with the car’s character, the drive-train is quiet and seamless in its operation. Shifts are barely perceptible, although if a little more pace is needed, you can put the tranny in sport mode, where it hangs on to gears longer and makes crisper shifts. Or you can select your own cogs (albeit somewhat lazily) via the steering wheel paddles.
While I’m usually the first person to play with such technology, after a few kilometres in Sport mode, the shifter returned to Normal mode where it remained for the rest of the week. I found the aggressive shifts and high revs disrupted the zen-like tranquility of this A6.
The 3.2 V6 (the only engine available in the A6 Avant) is no powerhouse when compared to BMW 5 Series’ 300-hp twin-turbo 3.0 litre straight-six. That said, it never felt wanting for power in day-to-day driving. It returned a very impressive 9.6 L/100 (premium fuel) over a week of mostly highway motoring.
This Night Blue Pearl Effect tester was equipped with the $3,450 S-Line Package which adds 5-spoke 18-inch wheels, sport suspension, S-Line bumpers and aluminum door sills, grey birch interior wood trim, front sport seats and Milano leather upholstery. The Convenience Package ($3,980) includes bi-xenon adaptive headlights, a very good sounding Bose audio system, memory for driver’s seat and mirrors, auto-dimming interior mirror with compass, Homelink, storage package and power tilt and telescoping steering wheel.
Inside, the beige hue enhanced what is all ready a beautifully conceived and executed interior. The 12-way heated leather chairs with lumbar adjustment offer a fine balance of comfort and support. All the expected mod-cons are accounted for, including Audi’s own Multi Media Interface (MMI) which provides access to most parameters of navigation, HVAC, and audio through a large knob on the centre console and a scattering of surrounding buttons. A seven-inch LCD screen lives centre stage on the dash and communicates all the pertinent info.
As far as these systems go, it’s a pretty good one, but the key with any of these interfaces – be it BMW, Mercedes or Audi – is familiarity. I know my way around this one quite well, but I still find scrolling through the radio station list a complete pain. My wife, who took the car for a day (and who has never tackled one of these things first hand) was utterly shocked at the number of steps required to complete some basic tasks like adjusting the fan speed, seat temperature or finding a radio station.
Is this a case of the Emperor’s new clothes? Have the Teutonic Titans pulled a fast one on us?
While on the subject of electronic gizmos, this car also featured adaptive cruise control ($2,700), iPod integration ($350), park assist ($1,000) and Sirius Satellite radio ($700).
The Avant’s trump card is its utility. Along with a very roomy back seat, you get a decent sized cargo area that expands to a large and flat load space with the back seats folded. It features a sliding "fence" that keeps your cargo from sliding around. Another handy feature on this tester was the $600 powered lift gate. What initially seems like lazy-boy frippery becomes quite useful when burdened with an arm full of groceries and a child in tow.
While the A6 Avant 3.2 is a competent handler and has the added benefit of all-wheel-drive, it will not inspire you to attack your favourite twisty road. As in many Audis I’ve tested, the steering is over-assisted at lower speeds, and doesn’t have the tactile sense of connection to the front contact patches that can be found in some of its competitors – BMW for one.
So it’s not a sport wagon. No biggie. I grew to really like this car on its own merits. It never failed to offer a serene, comfortable and stable sanctuary, which, in the cut and thrust of daily driving, is a priceless commodity.
Actually, make that pricey. With all the add-ons, the bottom line on this tester ballooned from the base $66,200 to $79,670 (before freight and taxes). Ouch. Although, looking across town, the 268-hp Mercedes-Benz E350 4Matic wagon starts at $77,300 and BMW offers its 300-hp 535xi Touring for $73,600. So it’s right in the ball park.
Go easy on the options and the Audi A6 Avant 3.2 could be considered a bargain.
Pricing 2007 Audi A6 Avant 3.2
Base price: $66,200
Options: $13,470 (S-Line Package $3450, Convenience Package $3980, Adaptive Cruise Control $2700, Advanced Parking System (with rear view camera) $1000, Sirius Satellite Radio $700, Cold Weather Package $690, Power tailgate $600, iPod integration $350
A/C Tax: $ 100
Freight: $ 700
Price as tested: $80,470
Manufacturer’s web site