The Audi A6 Avant, or estate for those not conversant with Audi parlance, has seen a minor revision for 2015. It remains one of the obvious models of estate envy on the road, offering plenty of space and comfort over and above the popular A4 Avant.
The Audi A6 faces a tougher challenge than ever before from its more affordable Passat stable mate at VW - newly refreshed and sharing engines and technology with Audi - while fending off the likes of luxury models from BMW and Mercedes.
The Audi A6 has had a minor refresh rather than a complete redesign, and one of the aims has been to give you more for your money - more power, better efficiency and more for standard. But the extensive options list still prevails and our test model pictured here rolled out with a few thousand pounds of extras added, fairly modest for an Audi spec sheet.
Audi describes the A6 as "stately", and there's plenty of that Lord of the Manor panache about the A6. But it does so without becoming stuffy. The stiff body and plentifulness of power means there's no lack of fun when you slip into the driver's seat of a car that, for some, is more about practicality than it is about top speed thrills.
Across the 2015 Audi A6 models there has been a decrease in emissions and in many cases and increase in power output. The 2.0-litre TDI Ultra that we drove still offers 190PS as it did last year, but sees a slight emissions dip of 4.5 per cent for the S tronic.
It still falls into the £30 vehicle tax band, which none of the 3.0-litre diesels do, so we suspect that for many, the 2-litre will be the engine of choice. But across the range, there's some healthy emissions savings, which seems to have been the aim, especially on the Quattro S tronic models, which see double figure percentage savings in some cases.
The Audi A6 Avant TDI Ultra we drove features glass fibre-reinforced polymer (GFRP) springs, which are 4.4kg lighter than the standard steel springs. That might not sound like much, but we're sure to be hearing more about this sort of thing in the future and it's here that Audi can lighten the car without losing performance.
On the road that 190PS is keenly felt. On the S tronic model we were driving there can be just a touch of lag when you put your foot down, but even at this "entry level", it's still a fun and sporty drive. Bury your foot in the carpet and there's a little wiggle as the power arrives through those front wheels and you head off over the horizon.
The handling is very good and you'd expect nothing less. The A6 Avant doesn't wallow, it's sharp and tight despite its size. Able to propel itself to 62mph in just over 8 seconds - at this entry level - it's no slouch either. Audi says that those GFRP springs perform better than the steel they replace and there's 20mm lowered sports suspension, or 30mm lowered S line suspension, for those after sharper handling.
There's the 3-litre diesel options for those wanting more pace or power (towing, perhaps), and that's before you get to the heady heights of the 450PS S6 and 560PS RS 6, the latter a sobering £77k. For many, the 2.0-litre TDI Ultra we tested, starting at £31,955, is likely to be the more realistic option.
Back to the more affordable A6 Bi-Xenon headlights with LED running lights are now standard, with the clever Matrix LED headlights as an option. It's these headlights that will adapt to the conditions, working in conjunction with a front camera to detect oncoming vehicles and ensure other drivers aren't dazzled by switching off the LEDs in that area.
Around the rear there's a new diffuser and LED rear light clusters, as well as new premium looking tailpipes that finish things off nicely, making the back look a little smarter than previously.
Slip into the S line interior (that's a £2,450 price premium over the SE model) and you'll find everything is present and correct. You now get 4-zone climate control as standard, as well as the Audi Music Interface, with plenty of technology upgrades on offer.
There's no real change inside for 2015, but then Audi's high standard of interior wasn't crying out for changes. Everything feels good to the touch, it's quiet and free from creaks, but there's a great deal of consistency across Audi's line up, right from the A1 up to the R8. The pop-up display helps keep things clean because you can easily fold it away when you don't need it.
What we don't yet see is the full digital display that made its debut in the Audi TT, but there's a healthy portion of the display that's dynamic, switching to show you the MMI navigation map or other in-car information, again making that pop-up display less necessary. It's still handy for navigating the album art on your media, or viewing the parking cameras, but with the driver display offering so much, we easily see how the large display will become a part-time luxury.
The double-glazed windscreen and side windows, and triple door seals, are designed to help reduce external noise to give you a quieter cabin. On the road it's a nice smooth experience and our jaunt through Northamptonshire's B roads was an absolute joy. The Audi A6 Avant is a pleasure to drive, living up to its premium badge and premium price.
But right from the lowest spec, you're still getting a lot in return. There's plenty of power from that 2.0-litre diesel and leather comes as standard. If you were thinking of a Passat at the same level, you'd be looking at the £30k Passat Estate GT (with leather and the same engine), which is a touch swifter to 62mph, but a little higher on emissions.
You might be able to spec the A6 up to silly levels, but it's under the standard banner where the A6's appeal really starts. You can add oodles of tech, additional luxury or boost that sporty feel, but as a large estate, the Audi A6 Avant does so much right from the start. It's capacious, it's comfortable and it's a great place to settle in for a long drive.