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Old 01-18-2006, 02:50 PM   #1
AnimaTTor
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Default 2006 Audi A6 Avant 3.2 Road Test

Another glowing review of the new A6. This time from Automobile.com of the 3.2 quattro Avant variant.

The article:

2006 Audi A6 Avant 3.2 Road Test
by Rob Rothwell
Sports Car, Luxury Car, SUV Meld into One

Audi completely reworked the A6 sedan for the 2005 model year, and with the introduction of the 2006 A6 Avant the wait is over for buyers looking to the more practical wagon variant to resolve their hauling needs. My Avant tester was a fully contented, V6-powered version of the premium, quattro driven sport-wagon; but dont allow its compact 3.2-liter (191 cu in) mill lull you into believing the Avant is more about utility than athleticism; its not. And a push of my testers console-mounted start button was proof positive.

Within the Avants beautifully-shaped, ultra smooth shell and familial nose lives a performance machine trying desperately, with every corner seared through and every straightaway scorched down, to discard its wagon-like image by morphing into a sports sedan or sleek coupe; and very convincingly I might add. The 2006 Avant, with its slightly roomier interior, replaces the 2005 Audi allroad quattro wagon, which exhibited a more rugged appearance than the Avant but was not any more capable off-road thanks to the Avants optional Adaptive Air Suspension system. This arrangement enables the Avant to be raised or lowered depending on terrain and driving needs. A full 50 mm (2 in) of lift is available from the vehicles lowest to highest ride height. An automatic setting allows the systems computer to continuously determine the most appropriate height based on vehicle speed. I found this setting the most viable for typical usage as it automatically lowers the Avant at highway speeds, improving its high-speed stability and handling dynamics.

This sophisticated suspension setup is just one of the many elements coming together to create a vehicle that combines attributes from several automotive genres - such as luxury, performance and SUV - into a single do-all, please-all package; that is of course if not deterred by its onerous pricing. The Avant sticker takes flight at $46,870 and easily rockets to a staggering "as tested" hit of more than $60,000, but can go even higher if all the boxes are checked-off. If its sticker shock can be adequately repressed, the Avant will bring owners a tremendous amount of motoring pleasure along with day-to-day versatility that rivals everything else in its segment.

To begin with, its sophisticated 3.2-liter (191 cu in) direct-injection gasoline engine twirls-out 255-horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 243 pound-feet of torque at 3,250 rpm, while emitting a dignified snarl at full tilt. The compact mill demonstrates a pleasurable willingness to encounter its redline without wheezing or becoming frenetic. In doing so it delivers torque in a constant, linear manner while shifts from the Avants 6-speed Tiptronic autobox come and go smoothly, with an almost perfect degree of definition. Audi cites a spirited 0 to 60 mph time of 7.0 seconds. If there is any sort of complaint arising from under the hood, its this: I personally would prefer a little less audio from the engine. Its not a disagreeable note, but for $60 large I want near silence from the other side of the firewall. And in a perfect world my Avant would enjoy the boost in output that Audis 335-horsepower 4.2-liter (255 cu in) V8 would bring to the show if dispensed in the mid-size wagon - but unfortunately at present it isnt available, at least not in North America. Well then, how about the fabulous 280-horsepower 3.6-liter FSI currently available in the new Passat?
Nonetheless, hooking the stalwart 3.2-liter pumphouse up to Audis world famous quattro all-wheel drive (AWD) technology through the Tiptronic autobox unites the three units into a fully connected drivetrain capable of launching the Avant on wet roads with nary a spinning wheel and out of tight turns with unearthly traction. Much of my time in the Avants cockpit was spent negotiating rain-soaked, darkened streets, so I quickly developed affection for the tenacious grip generated by the 17-inch diameter rubber glued to each corner of the pavement. Capitalizing on the grip is a fully independent set of underpinnings attached to a very rigid chassis structure - something difficult to achieve in wagon layouts. The resulting handling dynamics speak the language of "sports car" rather than the less expressive dialect of "wagon." The resistance offered by the Avants Servotronic speed-sensitive power steering is nicely calibrated to be joyfully light during parking duties but substantively resistive at cruising speeds.

Dipping slightly into the throttle during a turn will usher the Avant around with mind-warping stability, due in part to the torque headed to all four wheels and the cars well-balanced chassis setup. Should things take a turn for the worse, Audis Electronic Stabilization Program (ESP) will intercede with wheel specific braking and engine mitigation to urge the car back in line; and are those brakes ever powerful. I swear they operate more by thought process than actual foot action. It takes very little pressure to instantly pull the wind from the Avants sails. The 4-wheel antilock disc brake arrangement is buttressed with Electronic Brake-Pressure Distribution (EBD) and hydraulic Brake Assist (BA) to maximize stopping potential. I was very impressed with the Avants wet road, emergency-braking ability. Full-force grinds from 60 mph to zero were precise, free of de-stabilizing nosedive and drastically short given the undesirable road conditions beneath the Avants Michelin all-seasons.

Should the Avants Herculean brakes and ESP fail to side-step a collision, its host of standard airbags - which consist of driver and front passenger frontal airbags, driver and front passenger side airbags plus head protection airbags for front and rear occupants - are sure to cushion the blow. Rear side airbags are optional. This collection of inflatable protection is discreetly hidden in one of the most attractive, well-constructed cabins available in any wagon. Interior quality has long been an Audi strength, and the Avant is a true example of this fortitude. My long-legged frame fit nicely into the heated, 12-way power operated primary seat, however given my druthers, I would like to see adjustable pedals in place of the fixed set. Rear seat legroom remained commendable behind the drivers perch regardless of how far rearward I powered it back, which would have not been as far if adjustable pedals were present.
For me the interior highlight is the Avants beautifully finished center console graced with genuine wood inlays. Here one will find Audis controversial Multi Media Interface (MMI) control - a simplified version of BMWs iDrive maze. I categorically prefer the Audi version of electronic befuddlement, which becomes reasonably intuitive with time, but this is one of those "use it or lose it" devices. Sporadic usage can be difficult, compounded by a loss of roadway focus when re-familiarizing ones memory while in motion. Adding to this, its primary dials, primarily those needed for audio control, are attached to the lower console between the seats, probably the worst place for them. Fortunately, thumb operated rotating buttons allow the driver to scroll through a menu of options, audio volume, mode and presets being part of the package, which displays handily between the speedometer and tachometer, so, once again, when you get used to the system it works pretty well, but Id still prefer a more straightforward approach. MMI aside, the interior cabin of the Avant is creatively engineered and brilliantly executed.

The rear cargo area of my test machine featured a rail system into which a strapping device and full width barrier could be mounted to secure objects against the G-forces sure to be exerted. My tester was also equipped with an available power-operated rear liftgate, adding to the convenience. A retro aspect of the Avants interior is the CD changer mounted in the glovebox. An in-dash changer is really the norm these days, especially in the Avants premium segment - BMW aside.

Apart from the throwback CD changer locale, the cabin of the Avant is a most pleasing environment in which to spend long stints behind the wheel or beside it; and once underway, things just get better. Both road and wind noise are remarkably concealed. Apart from the engine note, already mentioned, the Avants cabin is like a sealed vault replete with automatic climate control and a killer, 10-speaker audio system. Visibility is outstanding thanks to the huge greenhouse surrounding its cabin, which makes parking the Avant a snap - yet Audis Parktronic rear parking assist is available as an option. Other major options include voice activation and a DVD-based navigation system, along with adaptive cruise control, adaptive headlights, heated rear seats, 2-position memory and much more. The long list of high-end Avant equipment doesnt mean the base trim is left wanting.

Standard Avant equipment includes projector headlights, fog lights, power moonroof, heated power-operated front seats, leather upholstery, multi-function steering wheel (one of the best Ive ever sampled), dual-zone climate control, cruise control, MMI, Bluetooth interface, plus all the expected power features and more.

Few vehicles, regardless of price, meld the attributes of our three favorite vehicle segments - sports car, luxury car and SUV - better than the 2006 Audi Avant. Unfortunately the well-executed melding comes with a well-to-do price, otherwise the Avant 3.2 quattro gets a five snap rating.

Avant equipment includes projector headlights, fog lights, power moonroof, heated power-operated front seats, leather upholstery, multi-function steering wheel (one of the best Ive ever sampled), dual-zone climate control, cruise control, MMI, Bluetooth interface, plus all the expected power features and more.

Few vehicles, regardless of price, meld the attributes of our three favorite vehicle segments - sports car, luxury car and SUV - better than the 2006 Audi Avant. Unfortunately the well-executed melding comes with a well-to-do price, otherwise the Avant 3.2 quattro gets a five snap rating.


* Price Range (MSRP): $46,870 - $65,210
* Body Type: 5-door wagon
* Layout: front engine, AWD
* Engine: 255 hp, 243 lb-ft of torque, 3.2L (191 cu-in), 24-valve, DOHC Direct-Injection V6
* Transmission: 6-spd automatic with manual mode
* Brakes (front/rear): disc/disc, ABS with EBD and BA
* Cargo Volume (seats up/folded): 19.95 / 58.6 cu-ft
* Curb Weight: 4,158 lbs
* Acceleration (0-60 mph): 7.0 seconds
* Warranty (mo/miles): 48/50,000 comprehensive
* Direct Competitors: BMW 5-Series Touring, Dodge Magnum RT, Mercedes-Benz E-Class Wagon, Saab 9-5 Wagon, Volvo V70/XC70
* Web Site: www.audiusa.com

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Old 01-18-2006, 02:50 PM
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