2012 Audi A6 Avant – Click above for high-res image gallery
We return to an old whine: Why exactly does the United States as a whole clearly possess the psyche that can categorically reject perhaps the two most useful body configurations ever thought of for road-going automobiles? Namely, the hatchback in all its various configurations and the most wonderful all-rounder on Earth, the station wagon.
Regarding the latter, witness this latest chapter in sensational wagoning, estating, call it what you will: the new 2011-12 Audi A6 Avant, which just had the covers pulled off it at a Berlin ceremony. We know that opinionists sprout from the ether of the Internet and have the habit of saying things in ways that reflect the writer's intensely personal and frequently skew-ish "obvious reason why" North America many years ago thumbed its collective nose at the wagon. But go ahead and comment; it's a lively and fun ritual. And for more of our own commentary, continue reading...
Look at this sex-ational toter. Worldwide, 60 percent of all A6 sales – the best-selling entry in this market segment in recent years globally – are Avants. That's without the goldmines of sales that are the United States and China; the top two markets and both renowned as wagon-haters. Or is it just that we've become SUV/crossover/minivan sheep at the clear expense of the holy wagon? Wagons have "command seating" positions, too, y'know.
Audi's wagon history started with the 1977 model 100 Avant. Since then, Audi has sold 1.3 million Avants worldwide, from this total about 47 of them have been sold to Americans. Yes, we exaggerate for effect, but we're not far off. Now that Audi has the Q5 and Q7 tall boy SUVs, to be followed soon by a street-confined Q3, the Avants are freer to be sleeker designs, too, and not just four-doors with a storage unit on the back. But no more A6 3.0T Avant quattro for us. The same thing has happened at BMW, who sadly also decided last year to no longer bring any 5 Series wagons (a.k.a. Tourings) to us due to horrific sales numbers when they did try. Surprisingly it's Mercedes-Benz that brings over the E-Class wagon – both the E 350 4Matic and now also the E 63 AMG wagon due in September. They now have the European premium wagon monopoly here.
At 59.3 cubic feet with all seats down, the A6 Avant has plenty of space for whatever. The interior, too, has been revamped to better present itself as an image car worthy of any five-star hotel's special parking spot near the front door. There are two gasoline and four turbodiesel engines. They're all fine units, but the engine that arrives last (by November we are told, following the general July launch of the other five motors) is the one we most want to experience. To compete head-on with the BMW 335d and 535d Touring, Audi now will have a new 3.0-liter bi-turbo V6 TDI quattro with 308 horsepower and torque rumored around 530 pound-feet. That'll be zero to sixty mph in just over five seconds. Pricing would be around $60,000 for discerning Yanks, but alas...
We don't/won't/can't get this or any other new A6 Avant anymore. So much the worse for us.