2012 Audi A6 Avant TDI Diesel – First Drive Review

Redesigned for 2012, Audi’s A6 lineup is halfway back to full strength with the introduction of the Avant station wagon. The high-powered S6 and RS 6 versions still are waiting in the wings—as is a hybrid model designed mostly with our market in mind, even if U.S. availability is as-yet unconfirmed—but already this is an impressive family of vehicles. In Europe, though, where a diesel-powered station wagon is the stereotypical executive car, the Avant is the most critical of all A6s.

Audi just made the executive-wagon segment a lot more interesting, with a twin-turbocharged variation of its 3.0-liter TDI turning out 313 hp and an even more impressive 479 lb-ft of torque. Not only is it a powerful mill, but this diesel also has attitude. Many oil burners are impressive in their power delivery and massive torque but lack soul. The 3.0-liter TDI, on the other hand, fires up with an impressive growl, and the sound gets better as you push it through the gears. Its voice is reminiscent of an old-fashioned V-8’s, a sound that is clearly audible inside and out. Think we’re crazy? Wait until you hear how Audi did it: The company stuffed an extremely durable speaker into the exhaust system that allows it to alter the engine note. It can even be adjusted on the move.

Going Right to Ludicrous Speed

Driving the A6 Avant is even better than listening to it. The all-wheel-drive chassis copes well with the TDI’s grunt. The rear differential distributes power for maximum agility, and it takes a heavy misstep to throw the Avant off course. The car should need just 5.5 seconds to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph. Top speed is a governed 155 mph, a speed the Avant reaches with ease. On unlimited stretches of autobahn, the twin-turbo TDI’s sheer grunt at velocities of 130 mph and above is remarkable.

Its torque is so massive that it surpassed the capacity of Audi’s seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, and the company had to install an eight-speed torque-converter automatic from ZF. There are three other diesel options in this car—a 177-hp, 2.0-liter four and two single-turbo versions of the 3.0-liter V-6 making 204 and 245 hp—but the twin-turbo V-6 is clearly the bad boy of the lineup. Even the most powerful gasoline engine Audi offers, the familiar supercharged 3.0-liter V-6, lacks the brute force of the top TDI. Better yet, the beastly diesel returns 37 mpg on the (hopelessly optimistic) European combined cycle.

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