The current generation of Audi A6 has been around for some years now, but the plug-in hybrid tow car is more recent. This is our first opportunity to tow with one. With a kerbweight of over two tonnes, 299hp and four-wheel drive, the Audi A6 Avant makes an appealing alternative to a large SUV.
What are we looking for?
We want to know if the Audi tows well, and if there are any compromises involved in choosing plug-in hybrid power.
Look at the spec sheet, and you’d think that this car was a large 4×4. With a kerbweight of more than two tonnes, it’s very heavy indeed for an estate tow car, giving an 85% match figure of 1828kg.
We matched the Audi to a Swift Fairway 650 Platinum Grande with a MiRO of 1645kg, borrowed from Broadlane Leisure in Kenilworth.
With the petrol engine and electric motor working together, the combined power output is 299hp, with a maximum torque figure of 332lb ft. These are big numbers, so it’s no surprise that the Audi is such a quick caravan tow car.
Towing at 60mph is easy with this much muscle to pull car and caravan up to speed. In fact, we were able to switch from hybrid to electric running while towing at 60mph. It’s very pleasant to travel so quickly yet quietly. Even with the engine running as well, the Audi’s cabin remains quiet, except for some road noise over coarse surfaces.
Hill starts are easy. There’s plenty of power, ample traction thanks to four-wheel drive, and the electric motor delivers a smooth but immediate getaway. The same is true when pulling away from junctions, although it’s worth switching from ‘drive’ to ‘sport’ for a more immediate response.
Whether you’re on a hilly country road or a busy motorway, stability is excellent. Only once did we notice any movement while overtaking an HGV. Throughout the rest of our towing route, the Audi felt very firmly in control of the caravan.
- Check out our caravan towing mirrors guide if you’re after a pair.
Without a caravan, the Audi A6 Avant is a quick and satisfying vehicle to drive. Like any plug-in hybrid, the 50 TFSI e is at its best with plenty of charge. That way, it largely relies on electricity for smooth progress.
So long as the battery has enough puff, EV mode keeps the engine in reserve. The hybrid setting balances both sources, and you can instruct the system to hold charge or top up the battery using the engine.
The transition between pure electric and hybrid running is smooth, and the engine is quiet when driven gently. Make the most of the Audi’s performance and decibel levels rise, but the engine doesn’t sound intrusive.
It’s a rapid car when engine and motor work together, with a claimed 0-62mph time of 6.3 seconds.
There are various driving modes, and the ‘dynamic’ setting sharpens the throttle response and adds weight to the steering. ‘Comfort’ mode really suits the car – still sporty, but less aggressive. The suspension can thump into potholes in town, but feels firm but well-judged for faster driving.
This is a big car, not far short of 5m long. So something would need to have gone awry for the Audi A6 Avant to be short of space.
Slide into the driver’s seat, and the finish is immediately impressive. The upmarket ambience takes on a high-tech feel when you prod the starter button and the screens light up. There’s a configurable display in front of you, and a twin-screen infotainment system in the centre. The graphics are stunning, but hitting the right icon without briefly taking your eyes from the road can be tricky.
You sit low to the floor and the pedals are slightly offset to the right. Even so, we found the driving position comfortable.
There’s lots of space in the back, too, although the bulky transmission tunnel will get in the way when travelling with three rear-seat passengers. As you’d expect, there are ISOFIX child seat mounting points in the two outer seats, and air vents to keep everyone at a comfortable temperature.
Boot space isn’t so impressive. In making room for the all the electrical gubbins that a plug-in hybrid needs, Audi’s engineers have had to raise the boot floor, cutting the capacity to a modest 405 litres. What’s more, there’s no dedicated storage space for the charging cable, so this lives in the boot if you intend to take it with you.
Buying and owning
For the right buyer, the TFSI e will be remarkably cheap to run. The all-electric range of 41 miles means many day-to-day drives can be completed without using a drop of petrol. For company car drivers, carbon dioxide emissions of just 33g/km make for very low tax bills.
Starting our economy route with the battery just a fraction below fully charged, we saw 30.2mpg while towing. And after 66 miles, the battery still had just under a quarter charge remaining.
S Line is one up from the base model, but there’s little need to spend more – it’s well equipped, including four-zone climate control, satellite navigation, electrically adjustable front seats, LED headlights and aluminium roof rails.
According to What Car?, the A6 will be worth around 46% of the original cost after three years and 36,000 miles on the road.
The only disappointment with the Avant plug-in hybrid is its small boot. Otherwise, it makes an excellent tow car, combining a roomy cabin with strong performance, and great economy if you can recharge at home.
Interested in a hybrid instead? Then take a look at our best hybrid tow car guide to see our top picks on the market.
Technical specification of the Audi A6 Avant 50 TFSI e Quattro S Line Tiptronic
- Price: £61,725
- What Car? Target Price: £56,666
- Retained value after three years: 46%
- Kerbweight: 2150kg
- 85% of kerbweight: 1828kg
- Gross vehicle weight: 2675kg
- Max towing limit: 2000kg
- Gross train weight: 4675kg
- Towball limit: 95kg
- Price of tow ball and electrics: £825
- Boot size: 405-1535 litres
- Payload: 525kg
- Test conditions: Dry
- Engine size: 1984cc
- Power (hp)/rpm: 265@6500rpm (engine only)
- Torque (lb ft)/rpm: 273@1600-4500rpm (engine only)
- Official combined economy: 188.3mpg
- Towing economy: 30.2mpg
- CO2 emissions: 33g/km
- 1st/2nd year car tax: £0/£560
- Insurance group: 43E
Or you could try…
- Nissan X-Trail e-4orce Tekna: this is a towing option which has been thoughtfully designed and well-built.
- Škoda Enyaq Coupé iV vRS: the vRS model in any Škoda range is the sporty one, as the Enyaq Coupé proves.
- BMW 320i Touring M Sport: this makes a superb towing option, if your budget will stretch to it.
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|Engine Size||1984 cc|
|85% KW||1828 kg|
|Towball Limit||95 kg|
|Maximum Towing Limit||2000 kg|
|Torque||273 lb ft|
|Offical MPG||188.3 mpg|
|Towing MPG||30.2 mpg|