Estate cars, lovingly known as wagons are a dying breed, no thanks to Sport Utility Vehicles. Those of us who love wagons know that Audi Avant’s are some of the best wagon’s in the market, be it in terms of looks or performance. The A6 Avant is their biggest and best equipped Autobahn-munching family hauler, and the latest C8 generation has just been given a PHEV powertrain.
This new A6 is called….wait for it… Audi A6 Avant 55 TFSI e quattro. Audi really wanted to make sure the name itself was as descriptive as its spec sheet.
Getting right into the good stuff, primary propulsion for the A6 Avant PHEV comes from a 2.0-litre TFSI four-cylinder engine that produces 249hp and 370Nm of torque. This is further bolstered by an electric motor producing 141hp and 350Nm of torque, for a combined system output of 362hp and an incredible maximum torque of 500Nm.
The electric motor found in the A6 Avant PHEV is a permanently excited synchronous machine that is mounted in between the engine and seven-speed S-tronic gearbox. This allows the electric motor to transfer drive torque to all four wheels via Audi’s quattro permanent all-wheel-drive system.
Thanks to the added performance of the electric motor, the A6 Avant PHEV does the 0-100kph sprint in just 5.7 seconds, 0.5s faster than the base model A6 Avant. Top speed, however, as with all German cars, is electronically limited to just 250kph.
As a PHEV, the A6 Avant does have pure-electric driving capability, with an estimated range of approximately 51km and an awe-inspiring top speed of 135kph. Despite all this performance, the A6 Avant is very frugal, with Audi claiming an estimated combined fuel consumption of 2.1-1.9l/100km. Real-world consumption figures would be far less rosy, obviously.
The A6 Avant PHEV comes with three driving modes, namely “EV”, “Hybrid” and “Hold”. Getting the boring stuff out of the way, “EV” is for all-electric driving. At the same time “Hold” conserves the electrical energy available at any given time. “Hybrid”, makes do with some very impressive technology to provide the most efficient combination of both the internal combustion engine and the electric motor.
“Hybrid” on the A6 Avant PHEV uses a predictive operating strategy that ensures maximum efficiency and making the most of electric driving. Utilising more computing power than the space shuttle, Audi’s predictive system takes in large amounts of data from the navigation, online traffic news, onboard cameras and radar, and even the customers driving style, to manage the drive and decide between freewheeling to coasting recuperation.
The car’s computers then take over the planning of routes to such detail that the last stage of journeys before getting to the destination can be covered in all-electric mode. The battery is charged up beforehand via the combustion engine where necessary.
The A6 Avant PHEV comes equipped with a 14.1kWh lithium-ion battery, which is located under the boot of the wagon. With a standard ‘Mode 3’ charging cable, customers can fully charge their vehicles in 2.5 hours at public charging terminals with an output of up to 7.4kW. The myAudi mobile app is equipped with a route planner that indicates the locations of charging terminals, though this is a European-only availability. Customers can also use the app to manage charging and climate-control before entering the car.
The Audi A6 Avant PHEV is comes packed to the brim with standard equipment, which would otherwise be pricey options on other lesser models. Available with the sporty S line exterior package, the A6 comes with some blacked-out trim for a more dynamic look. Matrix LED headlights, sport seats, four-zone climate control, Audi virtual cockpit, sports suspension and 19-inch wheels with red brake callipers round out the standard equipment on this uber wagon.
It’s not all good news, though. With a great big lithium-ion battery pack underneath the boot, luggage space is drastically compromised. The A6 Avant PHEV is available with only 405 litres of boot space with the rear seats up, a 181-litre drop when compared to 586 litres of space available in its non-hybrid siblings. To put things into perspective, the space available is smaller than a BMW 320i sedan while only being marginally larger than a Volkswagen Golf hatchback. Cargo space does expand to 1,535 litres with the rear seats folded.
The biggest issue with the A6 Avant PHEV is its starting price of just under €72,000 (RM340,000 before taxes), costing more than a BMW X5 M Sport Hybrid. However, it has to be said that the Audi does come with more equipment as standard than the BMW.
On the subject of Audi bringing the A6 Avant 55 TFSI e quattro to Malaysia, it does not seem to have a strong case as the mass-market appeal of wagons locally is all but non-existent. Remember the Volvo V90? Yet, stranger things have happened especially when someone is willing to sign the documents. In fact, this actually may suit Audi better as only moneyed people will be able to afford this, which further strengthens its image as a luxury car brand.