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By Dan Carney
Winter was late coming to the nation’s capital, but its damp, chilly debut was coincident with the arrival of the quattro-adhered Audi A6 Avant with its electrically heated front and rear seats. Easing the shock of the belated appearance of winter is simply a matter of thermal management and traction control, so a heated steering wheel and skillful all-wheel-drive can fend off lingering remembrances of the beach, refocusing thoughts on the ski season.
There is nothing so comforting in times of suspect traction as quattro all-wheel-drive with electronic differential locking and electronic stability control to Velcro (brand hook and loop fastener) the tires to the slick pavement. I also applaud the addition of brake assist, the quick-draw emergency stopping technology that shaves a few critical feet off full U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt–arrester-cable stops. Since I winged a deer by only the narrowest of margins a couple years ago in an A6 that lacked brake assist, I’ve been a believer in the potential of brake assist to avert needless collisions.
The Audi’s controls are fingertip-light, the Servotronic speed-sensitive power steering approaching but not crossing the threshold of too much assist, and a brake pedal that seemingly responds to the mere wish of deceleration. The A6 Avant is a hypersensitive Border Collie of a car, reacting to the subtlest gestures, a stark contrast to a world of the sluggish, dull-witted retrievers that are truck-based SUVs.