FROM BEHIND THE WHEEL, THERE IS NO INDICATION THAT THIS IS A DIESEL EXCEPT FOR THE PRODIGIOUS TRUCK-LIKE TORQUE. IN FACT, THE AUDI A6 AVANT 3.0 TDI IS EVERY INCH THE LUXURY MODEL WITH ITS UPSCALE INTERIOR.
THE two main benefits of a car with a modern diesel engine are well-known - the excellent low-end torque and fuel economy. Its carbon dioxide emissions are lower and when fitted with a particulate trap, the exhaust is pretty clean too.
Yet, the oil-burner hasn't caught on here, partly because of the old image of a pollutive diesel vehicle, and partly because of the diesel special tax that has to be paid annually. But some manufacturers, mainly the Germans, haven't given up and they continue to offer an increasingly wider range of diesel models here. One of them is the Audi A6 Avant 3.0 TDI quattro tiptronic.
The A6 is one of Audi's most attractive models. And, because of its aluminium-steel construction, this mid-sized station wagon is relatively lightweight at 1,855 kg. So when there is a diesel engine with twin turbochargers under the hood to churn out stonking torque of 650 Newton-metres, it means this TDI estate is transformed into a veritable cruise missile.
With maximum torque available from just 1,450 rpm, the A6 Avant 3.0 TDI displays virtually no turbo lag. Zero to 100 kmh is dispatched in 5.3 seconds, or faster than the majority of hot hatches on the road. But strangely, it does not feel explosive. Instead, the 650 Nm makes its presence felt during in-gear acceleration. This can be an eye-popping experience that will transform the concept of overtaking as you know it.
The power is delivered via an eight-speed automatic gearbox to all four wheels in classic quattro fashion for maximum traction. The permanent all-wheel-drive ensures the A6 has great grip and is very fun to throw into a fast corner.
But the A6 TDI is also frugal, requiring just 6.3 litres per 100 km under the combined cycle, or 15.9 km per litre. If you like flooring the throttle and taking tyre-screeching bends, however, you should expect something closer to 10-ish km per litre. Which is still impressive considering the size and power of the A6 Avant.
As for diesel clatter, it is slightly discernible only during start-up as Audi's piezo injectors mitigates this typical noise. Once on the move, the mellifluous burble of the sports exhaust takes over the move. The exhaust system actually has a sound actuator, or loudspeaker, to modulate the exhaust note so that it becomes closer to that of a high-performance petrol engine.
So from behind the wheel, there is no indication that this is a diesel except for the prodigious truck-like torque.
In fact, the Audi A6 Avant 3.0 TDI is every inch the luxury model with its upscale interior. Riding on macho 20-inch wheels, the Avant is comfortably large but doesn't look it - its girth is only evident from the cabin's spaciousness. As far as this Audi is concerned, the words "diesel", "sporty" and "luxurious" all belong in the same sentence.
Audi A6 Avant 3.0 TDI quattro tiptronic
Engine 2,967cc V6 turbodiesel
Transmission 8-speed auto
Max power 313 hp @ 3,900-4,500 rpm
Max torque 650 Nm @ 1,450-2,800 rpm
0-100 kmh 5.3 secs
Top speed 250 kmh
CO2 emissions 166 g/km
Average OMV $67,000
Price $387,500 (with COE)
Distributor Premium Automobiles