Going up against the Mercedes E-Class estate and BMW 5-Series Touring is this, the brand new Audi A6 Avant estate. Estates are often maligned as boring, but this is anything but. Do you really need an SUV? 

It’s not got quite as much storage space as those other executive class rivals we mentioned above, but it’s still large at 564 litres with the seats up and a whopping 1,680 litres with the seats down.

If you're currently cramming kids and dogs into a small car, you won't believe the upgrade that a vehicle like this can give you. 

We popped across to Audi’s Ingolstadt HQ to check out the new car in the flesh (no drives allowed as yet although we were able to fiddle around with everything). The front portion is the same as the saloon as you’d expect while the rear is completely redesigned.

There are LED lights and a distinctive chrome bar that slashes across the entire back while the roof has been given a sportier line.

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The wheel arches have ‘blisters’ over the top which Audi says is to accentuate its Quattro all-wheel-drive system.

There are four engine choices straight from the A6 saloon including three “new or mostly new” 3.0L V6 engines; two TDI and one TFSI, all three with Quattro all-wheel-drive. There’s also a 2.0L four-cylinder TDI diesel and the range features up to eight-speed tiptronic gearboxes.

The V6 petrol is the most powerful, able to output 340bhp. There’s “mild hybrid” tech at play here with up to 12kW able to be recovered into a battery when braking.

This, says Audi, can save around 0.7 litres of fuel per 100 miles as the A6 can coast between around 35 and 99mph and naturally there’s start-stop as well.

The auto-close tailgate also triggers an automatically retracting parcel shelf (if only we had that in our own VW Passat estate!). A nice touch, as is the wash jet for the rear parking camera. Luggage is everything here and there are various tethering points to secure objects within the compartment. There's also a bar to section-off part of the boot. 

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The front grille includes the equipment for level 2 autonomy including radar and other sensors. The car can process data from as many as five radar sensors, five cameras, twelve ultrasonic sensors and the laser scanner depending on equipment level.

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Internal tech is straight out of the A8 or super A7, so you get the full 12.3-inch virtual cockpit experience and dual touchscreens at the centre of the dash - gone is the rotary dial of old. The virtual cockpit is operated with steering wheel buttons - so you can show a map or the usual dials - and there's an optional head-up display, too. 

The 10.1-inch top screen is used for navigation and entertainment, the bottom 8.6-inch display is used for control; mostly this works well, but there are stacks of options so it could be confusing for some. Things get easier in the back where there are comfort controls for passengers to use.

You can store preferences for up to seven drivers, too, so you're not messing around to readjust things if someone else has been driving the car. 

The audio has been developed in cahoots with Bang & Olufsen and there's a total of 15 loudspeakers around the car. There's voice control, too, but as we found with the Audi A7 it's not up to much and needs improvement. 

As with other high-end Audis, the car uses the four cameras (front and back and in the wing mirrors) to form a 3D image of what's around all aspects of the car. 

Naturally, there’s an S-line model (although other trim options haven’t yet been disclosed) but we don’t know UK prices as yet. We're looking forward to driving the Audi A6 Avant soon. 

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