19 November 1999

300HP UNDER YOUR

BONNET? YES PLEASE…

In this months Country Car,

Geoff Ashcroft goes

horsepower-crazy while

Andrew Peace navigates the

autobahns in a Trooper

VOLVO started the ball rolling with its T5 estate, then came BMWs 540i Touring and Mercedes E430 estate – now Audi has joined the elite band of those who think it is fun to put a powerful engine into a practical estate car.

Enter the A6 Avant 4.2 Quattro, the latest in a growing list of estate cars-cum-rocketships, and the performance is nothing short of addictive.

Audis previous flagship estate was the pokey-engined 193hp 2.8-litre, so the 300hp V8-engined 4.2 represents not a small step for man, but a giant leap for mankind.

But it is not just the horsepower that is up – the price is high too, nudging the 45-grand mark. It is 12-grand dearer than the next Avant model in Audis price list, the four-wheel drive A6 2.8. And the price hits home even harder when sat inside the car; the 4.2 Quattro is little different to any other A6.

Ignoring the Quattro badge on the dash to remind you that all four wheels are driven, there is little to remind you of the money spent. In this league, the cars interior should really be more exclusive with perhaps that extra special feel. It isnt.

But the car does feel quick and smooth. Pace is effortless, seeing off 62mph in a shade over seven seconds, and a limiter holds the top speed down to 155mph. This is a car which needs to be treated with abundant self-restraint if your driving licence is to remain intact, because it is easy to drive very fast.

There is enough throttle response to give passengers severe whiplash and unless you watch the rev counter, gear changes are almost unnoticeable.

Verdict: Better looking than the A6 saloon and far more practical with it. Addictive performance throws fuel economy into turmoil, and £44,572 price-tag takes some swallowing.

AUDI DATA

&#8226 Model: A6 Avant 4.2 Quattro

&#8226 List price: £44,572

&#8226 Engine: 300hp, 4.2-litre V8 petrol.

&#8226 Top speed: 155mph (electronically limited)

&#8226 0-62mph: 7.1sec

&#8226 Test fuel consumption: 21.6mpg

&#8226 Insurance group: n/a