Audi A6 Avant: month five
On fleet since: October 2011
Total mileage: 10,426
Official combined mpg/CO2: 56.5mpg/132g/km
Actual mpg: 45.2
Engine: 2.0 TDI 177
Performance: 9.0secs 0-60mph/138mph top speed
Insurance group: 27E
List price: £31,340
Price as tested: £39,270
Pros: Ongoing quality feel, economy continued to improve with winter tyres
Cons: Hardly exciting, daily amusement for neighbours of door slam dramas, will economy continue its improvement with the original tyres back on?
Where have we been with the Audi A6 Avant?
So, it's goodbye winter tyres. The man from Audi came to change them back to the all-weather rubber fitted at the factory. Thank goodness I'd had them, though. For, err, that day of snow, when the whole country didn't grind to a halt (it was a Sunday), winter tyres have proven essential fit this year.
I joke. Of course, winter tyres are useful whenever the temperature falls below 7 degrees Celsius. It's just that this year, it hasn't really dropped below that all too often. They've been nice to have, and an undoubted safety boost, but essential kit? Not this time round. Not like last year.
A staggering journey average of 57.4mpg
It was fitting they were swapped back while I was indoors attending a conference at Porsche Silverstone. Outside, it was sweltering, on one of the last days of winter. Last year, I'd also been at Porsche Silverstone, testing winter tyres. Again, on a sweltering day. Thank goodness for artificial snow and ice test facilities, to show us just how significant their effect is.
Not that the Audi A6 Avant itself suffered from having winter tyres. As I've earlier reported, the ride actually improved on them - as did, bizarrely, fuel economy. From a mediocre 40mpg (it's meant to do nearly 58mpg combined), it slowly started edging up, topping 45mpg and brushing 50mpg on several runs.
The clincher was actually that trip to Silverstone. The expected traffic didn't materialise, so I had 10 minutes extra to spare. So I took it steady, set the cruise at 60mph. Result? A staggering journey average of 57.4mpg (and a high of 62.8mpg!). See: the Audi CAN be fuel efficient after all.
What do we like about the Audi A6 Avant?
Now it's back on the original (optional) 18-inch wheels, it doesn't half look good. I didn't notice too much of a difference when the 17-inch winter rims went on - but now the OE wheels are back, it looks considerably more purposeful.
Any difference to the way it drives? Several. The steering now has more bite and initial turn-in response, cutting back on the winter tyre squidge satisfyingly. The ride is also more excitable, with a return of the slight high-speed jiggle and greater excitation from potholes.
A firmer, more confident feel beneath
Despite this, it's a nicer car to drive. With a firmer, more confident feel beneath you, it turns into corners more accurately, gives more steering weight and basically feels more dynamic overall. There's extra tyre noise at speed as a result - an area the A6 is already so-so in - but I don't mind as the overall drive benefits.
How the quality feel of the big Audi shines through after driving other cars, too. There's a premium depth to its solidity, its engine refinement, its bump absorption that many mainstream cars just can't replicate. Only staying away from it for a week then returning am I reminded of this.
What don't we like About the Audi A6 Avant?
When I get back in the Audi after driving other cars, I always fail to slam the door properly. Several times. Why? Because the doors are made of aluminium, like most of the Audi's exterior body panels. These lack the heft of steel doors, so need more force to close them tight. So many times, I forget.
It's an odd premium car grumble, this: it just doesn't feel right to slam the door so forcefully. Audi will sell a solution - soft-close doors, which tug the door tight when you draw it close - but that is a costly solution that few 2.0 TDI buyers are likely to take up.
I'm moaning about slamming a door
That I'm moaning about slamming a door shows how painless the A6 Avant continues to be. It's hardly exciting, and time in those other cars does remind me the body control isn't BMW-standard, the ride isn't Mercedes-standard.
But for subtle under-the-skin satisfaction, the big Audi takes some beating. Whether it's the feel of the gearchange, the clarity of the dials or the glow of the centre console at night, this car continues to appeal to my rational brain. I don't think about it, I simply drive it and am satisfied by it. For an everyday driver, that's enough.
What next for the Audi A6 Avant?
The Audi's five months and over 10,000 miles into it time with us. Replacement time is looming - and, know what? We reckon we'll miss it. Time to be soothed by it some more while we still can, then...
Report 1: Audi A6 Avant arrival
Report 2: Audi A6 Avant month two
Report 3: Audi A6 Avant month three
Report 4: Audi A6 Avant month four
Report 5: Audi A6 Avant month five (this report)
Report 6: Audi A6 Avant final report