Picking up a brand new car is always a special occasion – especially when it's one of the first to feature a new numberplate designation. So when I arrived at Portsmouth Audi to collect the replacement for 'my' outgoing Q7 to see a new 17-plate model hiding under a sheet, the palpitation was even greater than normal.
After seven months with the brilliant SUV, Audi reclaimed their 4×4 and offered to replace it with something a little different. Under the satin sheet in the Portsmouth showroom was the gloriously mean looking Audi A6 Avant you see before you. I'd let one of my colleagues loose on the brand's configurator, so wasn't quite sure what to expect when salesman Jason Havelock whipped the cover off – but my word was I in for a treat.
Fortunately Havelock didn't make me wait long. After a quick introduction he asked if I was ready to meet my new car, and with that pulled the covers back to reveal the monster in all her glory. KX17 YVY is the first Audi A6 the dealership has seen in the striking Gotland Green shade you see here. Teamed with the Lunar silver leather interior, Black Edition wheels and darkened windows, the A6 Avant looks positively menacing.
Under the bonnet it features exactly the same diesel unit that the outgoing Q7 had – a 3.0-litre TDI 268bhp lump. That means it's good for 60mph in 5.5 seconds – half a second quicker than the heavier Q7. Top speed is limited to 155mph, while it should return 53.3mpg on the combined cycle. I'm looking forward to seeing how the unit compares to the SUV's lump, especially its thirst for annoyingly frequent top ups of AdBlue.
Costing £49,440 without extras, we soon increased the price with a few ticks in the option boxes. A head-up display (£1,240), LED headlights (£945) and adaptive air suspension (£2,000), were all added, as was a panoramic sunroof (£1,300) and heated front and rear seats (£340). Total extras and delivery fees pushed the price of our car up to £63,045.
Salesman Havelock was impressed with our picks and confirmed that the air suspension was a must have. And he's right – the ride on the A6 is positively plush, soaking up bumps with ease and floating you along on a wave of comfort. I've already tackled a number of long trips and its relaxed nature on the road has certainly impressed.
What will take more getting used to, though, is the lane assist steering. It tugs at you if you stray out of your lane and on most roads can even keep you in the right place by steering for you. It's a little disconcerting at first, but as the miles increase I'm sure I'll get used to it.
The clever steering works well with the radar cruise control too, which can speed up and down while keeping you a safe distance from the car in front. It's another piece of tech that will take some time to settle into, but a useful addition nonetheless.
Sadly, the multimedia system is the older style compared to that which featured on the newer Q7. This model A6 is due to be replaced soon and still features the slightly dated MMI system. There's no digital dashboard option either, something I got rather used to on the off-roader.
In the few miles I've managed to get under my belt in the A6 so far I certainly haven't noticed any less space. The boot is cavernous offering 565-litres with the seats up, or 1,680 with them down. That's more than enough to swallow my horse-sized Doberman when heading out for walks.
Over the next few weeks I've got some huge trips planned for the A6 – including one last jaunt to the Alps for some end-of-season snow. I'm sure we'll soon see if KX17 YVY can really live up to the legacy of its talented predecessor.
Model: Audi A6 Avant Black Edition S tronic
Price: £63,045 (with options)
Engine: 3.0-litre, TDI
Max speed: 155mph
0-60mph: 5.5 seconds
Mileage this month: 645