2011 Audi A6 Avant 2.0T on a quiet, roomy ride in Norway

2011 Audi A6 Avant 2.0TDI

The Audi A6 Avant 2.0TDI four-cylinder turbodiesel at the crossroads heading towards Os, Norway.

So it’s not the 2012 Audi A6 Avant, but it is an Avant–or wagon–version of the Audi A6, but even if it’s the A6 on the way out, the 2011 Audi A6 Avant is a model we’ve not experienced and the new one isn’t here yet. Offered more than a week with a 2011 Audi Avant, we said thank you very much and headed out the door.

Sometimes when the rental company doesn’t have the compact hatchback one reserved, one must make the best of having to drive an upgrade.

2011 Audi A6 Avant cargo

The 2011 Audi A6 Avant has a generous cargo capacity–and sliding cargo hooks–but the seatbacks don’t fold to make a flat floor.

The Audi A6 Avant we were given, however, had a U.S.-can’t-have. Our test/rental was powered by VW Group’s ubiquitous 2.0-liter turbodiesel, the 2.0TDI, an engine we’re more accustomed to see in a Volkswagen Jetta. In fact, we can’t have the four-cylinder TDI engine in an Audi A6, whether sedan or Avant, because it won’t meet U.S. emissions laws. It’s the reason the Volkswagen Tiguan compact SUV isn’t available with the 2.0TDI. It’s over the weight where an engine would require the AdBlue-based clean-diesel technology, which would price the Tiguan out of its market class.

2011 Audi A6 Avant 2.0TDI interior

The 2011 Audi A6 Avant 2.0TDI we drove had comfortable cloth seats.

In the case of the Audi A6 Avant, and for that matter the sedan, it’s more likely as much a matter of power. The 2011 A6 Avant we got Stateside is powered by a 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 that provides the punch of a V-8, with 300 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. However, the 2.0TDI (in U.S. trim) is rated at 140 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque. The compact Audi A3 with the turbodiesel returns, according to the EPA, 30 mpg city and 42 mpg highway, but it takes 8.9 seconds to go from 0-60 mph. The larger and heavier A6 Avant 2.0TDI would take measurably longer.

Zero-to-60 didn’t mean much for our driving, however, which was completely in Norway, which outside of Oslo has no speed limit over 80km/h. That’s less than 50 mph. Acceleration hits a new low in importance. Of course, it takes forever to get anywhere in Norway, and Norway isn’t all that big. However, in almost two weeks of driving, our fuel mileage ranged from a low of 37.3 mpg up to 40.5 mpg. And in Norway, diesel fuel is cheaper than gasoline. Who needs a gasoline-engined compact when a big luxury wagon gets mileage like that?

Even though our speeds were well shy of autobahn numbers, the driven 2011 Audi A6 2.0TDI was comfortable and well controlled in the twisty bits for gawking tourists, even on the narrow road winding mountain roads in the Telemark region in southern Norway. It was more attuned to competent highway cruising however, such as we were able to cruise on highways. The engine was quiet inside and out. Think Jetta TDI, but wrapped in cotton. Road noise was never a problem, the A6 Avant quiet as a sedan. And wind noise? What wind?

2011 Audi A6 Avant 2.0TDI

The 2011 Audi A6 Avant 2.0TDI

The cargo capacity of the A6 Avant, however, was more than welcome, fitting two weeks of luggage and assorted appurtenances of travel with ease in the 33.9 cubic foot trunk. Folding down the rear seatbacks, which we didn’t need to do, increases carrying capacity to 63.8 cubic feet. But it’s our common complaint that the seatbacks don’t fold to make a flat cargo floor, making it difficult to slide really large items in. At least the liftgate opens wide and high enough that we weren’t in danger of striking our heads.

Although station wagons–or estates or whatever they’re called over there–are common on the Continent and in Scandinavia, the Audi A6 Avant with its tapering roofline avoids a purely utilitarian appearance and dare we say it’s stylish. It’s not hard for an Audi to trump a compact hatchback, and an Audi station wagon, er, Avant even more so. The sleek new 2012 Audi A6 sedan has arrived in the States but not yet the new Audi A6 Avant. But anytime we’re offered an upgrade to the new A6 Avant, we’ll take it as quickly as the one we just drove.

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