THE dictionary definition of Avant is ‘stylistically advanced'. And that's exactly what Audi's load carrier is.
Since the mid 90s when the name was first applied by the German marque, it has been able to distance itself from the utilitarian estate car or station wagon, adding a panache and splash of exciting to what is essentially a practical family vehicle and a general beast of burden.
Gradually the Avant tag broadened both the A4 and A6 ranges and remains popular currently despite the avalanche of SUVs to choose from.
Near the top of the range is the A6 Avant 55 TFSi quattro that we've been driving, an easy-going beast of a car easily capable of outpacing many sports cars and packing 335bhp. Yet it can also be a gentle pussy cat for pottering about town or meandering through country lanes on a family day out.
It may not be quite as roomy for luggage as a Merc E-Class but with 565 litres of cargo space, few owners would complain, and the 3.0-litre V6 engine is an absolute gem, delivering oodles of low down grunt in one long creamy flow.
The level of refinement coupled with its responsiveness make it the model of choice within the range which includes 2.0-litre four cylinder petrol and diesel power.
The S Tronic eight-speed automatic gearbox takes the strain out of long journeys yet allows keen drivers to exploit the huger performance - 62mph comes up in less than six seconds and maximum is limited to 155mph.
No shortage of leg or shoulder room within the finely appointed cabin and the rear seat splits 40-20-40 if you want to lead in extra bags.
Less impressive is the cabin space offered to store the usual family clutter. Shallow centre console compartments and skinny door pockets caused us to resort to putting our odds and ends in a shopping bag on the floor.
The fascia and cabin, as a whole, are however beautifully fashioned with top grade materials and there's an elegance not found in most of its rivals. Two touch screens operate many of the function and are surprisingly easy to master.
By now most people are aware of Audi's virtual cockpit which is both visually appealing and really useable.
Air suspension produces a pleasantly supple ride, smoothing out undulations and road irregularities yet controlling vertical movement and cornering roll. A word of praise also for the steering which offers greater feedback than most Audi drivers are used to.
Quattro four wheel drive ensures the big Audi stays firmly glued to the road when pressing on through the bends.
Despite the abundant performance and all-paw drive, fuel consumption during the 500 mile test was modest at 33mpg with a best of approaching 40mpg on a long cross country drive.