Audi was one of the manufacturers that decided to wade deep into the concept of CVT transmissions in the early 2000s. On paper they’re brilliant; they keep the engine speed at the most appropriate and efficient level for the task in hand, whether that’s biffing around town or bashing along the motorway.
They keep revs low on light throttle inputs, helping fuel economy. They’re smooth, quiet and lightweight compared to geared alternatives. They’ve always struggled for love in Europe because we like gears; we like to feel the shifts. We don’t like to hear the monotone droning under power that comes as a side-effect of the way CVTs work.
As a result the motoring press has always slated the likes of Lexus hybrids for their CVT gearboxes, despite them being the best tools for the job.
Anyway, once upon a time Audi fitted its large luxury cars with CVT gearboxes, before officially killing the last of them off in 2014. Hand in hand with a range of smooth V6 engines, they made for a creamy, relaxed and effortless drive. They were inherently superb in traffic and fuel-efficient everywhere. It was a top-drawer combination for the chilled driver.
These days it’s a partnership that you can pick up from the classifieds for not much dollar at all. We found this classic C5-era A6 Avant on a 2003 ‘03’-plate. It’s a 2.5 TDI V6 diesel with slightly fogged headlights and what seems to be a broken rear windscreen wiper (both easy fixes).
Inside you’ll find full brown leather upholstery and brown carpets, although a lot of that brown seems to be dirt. The interior is 100 per cent pure old man, but we think it might be so uncool that it’s actually a little bit cool.
Confusingly, one of the pictures seems to show the car missing both of its off-side exterior door handles. It’s a little tatty here and there, with visible scrapes, ugly wheel centre caps missing their finish and a few rusty number plate bolts, but it’s a car that you could spend some time and effort on.
This isn’t classic Disney, so it’s not all rainbows and unicorns. The MOT expires in a few days and last year’s had a list of advisories including brake discs, a corroded coil spring, worn bushes and a CV joint boot. It’s possible some of those might now be MOT fails.
As far as the engine goes, the 155,000-mile count looks genuine and the full service history is encouraging. The 2.5-litre V6 wasn’t the most reliable unit, but with 163bhp it was hardly stressed, either. The 0-62mph sprint is a 10-second endeavour. 35mpg should be easy.
It may be 15 years old but this is still an Audi A6. It’s not exactly Spartan. As well as the leather and CVT automatic gearbox you get cruise control, climate control and a CD autochanger (remember those?), although we’re obviously just hoping they all still work.
We don’t have any pictures of the 455-litre boot, but it’s plenty big enough for most people’s daily needs. This is a genuinely practical, comfy cruiser that, with a few repairs, could be a brilliant everyday hack. Now, which one of you is going to buy it?
While we’re on the subject, Audi has just revealed the all-new A6 Avant, and it’s a pretty thing. Check it out right here.