Try to imagine the following! The Geneva Motor Show is less than a month away, and the GTspirit team decided to drive to the annual car show in Switzerland to cover the latest from the automotive world with you, but the question was what ride shall we use as our transport? What car suits our trip across Europe the best? The answer came when the Germans at Audi offering us the chance to experience their latest workhorse, the 2012 Audi A6 3.0 TDi Avant.

True, is it not our average road test vehicle, but then again we had to transport five people to and from the PalExpo building where the Swiss car show was held. This left us with limited choices and we wanted to try the brand new Audi A6 before our first experience with the new 2013 S6 at the end of May. So first up is the basic setup of the A6, second and third are the S6 and RS6 in the upcoming months. Seemed like a good plan!

So what did Audi provide us with? To local standards our Geneva transport was packed with every single option available on the option list. The total price tag of Avant included half the basic car and half options, which is kind of ridiculous at first but normal in the current global luxury segment where brands such as BMW, Mercedes, Audi and Lexus try to get customers attentions with emotional designs, sharp price tags and luxury refinements that come at a high cost. This provides a choice for their customers, who want something special.

First Drive 2012 Audi A6 3.0 TDi Avant 01

The luxury car was simply packed with every single feature you could ever wish for on a 2,000km trip through four European countries. Let’s start with the engine, a 3.0 liter turbocharged commonrail diesel unit producing 245hp at 4,500rpm and 500Nm between 1,400 and 3,250rpm. Acceleration time to 100km/h is 6.3 seconds and you have a top speed of 243km/h. This particular option is one of the four available. Our test car had the seven-speed S tronic gearbox linked to the engine. Not one of our favorites, but highly capable of pushing the heavy A6 forward on stretches of Autobahn.

On the subject of the suspension Audi added an Adaptive air suspension and a quattro four-wheel drive system with a sport differential offering enhanced traction and handling precision during cornering. The quattro offers seemingly endless grip, body roll is negligible and the adaptive air suspension – adjustable via the central MMI dashboard unit – offers an utterly smooth and pleasant ride. Even the 20 inch ten-spoke V-design rims fitted with 255/35 tires all around didn’t spoil the wonderfully relaxing ride.

There is hardly any noticeable weak point to mention when it comes to the Audi A6. The smoothness of the ride offers a package that is less sporty than the BMW 5-Series, but more refinement than the Mercedes-Benz E-Class. With its 1,800kg weight figure, the A6 is solid but not bulky, which shows in the way it drives. It moves easily through traffic, better than it probably should given its length, but provided us with a challenge while parking in the PalExpo parking lot. In the end, the ride offers the ultimate transport for long trips, easily capable of transporting you anywhere you want.

First Drive 2012 Audi A6 3.0 TDi Avant 02

The question now is does the interior offer the same? Inside the cabin, we had everything we had hoped for. The combination between Valcona leather and Beaufort oak wood felt like we were steering a luxury yacht around the Mediterranean. The heated seats were a favourite option, tested extensively by the chief editor. The massaging and ventilation of the two front seats were the first engaged after a busy day at the show.

The build quality of it all is excellent. A three-spoke steering wheel wrapped in the same buttery smooth leather affronts the team ahead of a low dashboard that’s light on buttons and features the two rising speakers of the Bang & Olufsen audio system. The center console is packed with buttons, switches, screens and options. The button overkill provided access to the MMI and climate control systems. An innovative touch-sensitive pad like that on a laptop computer offered navigation inputs and the choice between six pre-set radio stations. The MMI system itself included a WiFi hotspot for Internet on-the-go inside the car, Voice control, direct access to the navigation system with Google Maps view, bluetooth-connectivity for your phone and car features like the dim level of the in-direct LED-lighting in the doors and foot wells.

Furthermore, the car was packed with an advanced cruise control system with a stop and go function, a head-up display indicating speed and navigation information, and a night vision assistant that detects pedestrians. The lane-assist functionality moved the steering wheels slightly when we were gently moving across the line dividing two lanes. A scary experience at first, but a true gimmick after some time. The car even recognized speed signs next to road and parked the car for us while we were experiencing our final massage of the day.

First Drive 2012 Audi A6 3.0 TDi Avant 03

After being in and out of our transport to and from Geneva, we dropped off the Audi with a type of relaxation highly unusual after a week of immense stress and workload at the most important car show in the world. The Audi A6 proved to be the ultimate transport for our long day trip abroad. It’s massive size and expensive price tag are a common thing in the luxury segment, but they weren’t any of our main points to discuss. For us it was the first experience with the A6 coupled within a 2,000km drive and we loved it. The S6 is next and we hope that Audi adds slightly more sportiveness into the equation, a bit of playfulness the standard A6 lacks.

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  1. Unfortunately a model that will not be seen in the US, nor an engine that is available in the A4, A6 or Q5 for US delivery. Ignoring that US customers are purchasing 57% and 34% of A3s and Q7s respectively with a TDI (March, 2012 sales figures), AUDI is losing customers (like me) to its competitors that offer diesel engines for the small/midsize sedans and SUVs (the bulk of AUDI’s market!).


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