The West

More tricks than a magician
More tricks than a magician

Modern cars have bags of cargo tricks and I've found the Harry Houdini of them all.

It's the A6 Avant, Audi's fancy name for a station wagon.

The cargo end has a Howard's Storage World of clever gadgetry, so it's better than a sedan.

But if you bought the Avant, which adds just $4000, you'd be a rare bird. The good old station wagon these days has few takers.

With the Avant, if you couldn't get the contents of your walk-in robe in there, you'd be a mug.

Sadly, I was the mug among the journalists invited to play Mandrake at the national launch of the Avant.

Audi operatives had assembled an unsportingly large volume of luggage - fancy Audi cases, golf clubs and an Isofix baby seat.

It was a competition to see how quickly we could stow the items into the A6's nether reaches.

Isofix is an idiot-proof seat that locks into fixings in the car but the fitting demo went over my head. If Houdini had fumbled that much with his fixings, he'd have drowned on debut.

My stow time was further blown out by fluffing the tailgate trick.

With the keys in your pocket, the idea is to approach the tailgate with your arms full. You kick the air below the bumper and the electronic tailgate, shazam, opens.

That's the theory.

Not quite as gracefully as Baryshnikov, there I was on one peg, making pointy-toe kicks until the sensor decided I had the technique right.

One frustrated car scribe tried forceful persuasion, kicking the actual bumper.

Here's the tip - practise at home before performing your ballet/car-abuse routines in public. You'll get it eventually.

By now I was running stone motherless, so it was all fluster and panic with the cases and clubs. At least I wasn't irresponsible, like a colleague.

In a frenetic bid to win the bubbly prize, a five-iron became airborne, sconing the baby.

Luckily, Audi OH & S had insisted on a faux infant for the exercise. Of course, an owner wouldn't have pressures such as stage fright and free fizz.

They'd learn quickly how to deploy the plethora of devices.

Like this one - designed to prevent babies being collected by flying five-irons is the cargo net to the ceiling.

What makes the Audi so special is the net can be fitted to the front seat row or the back one.

The frontal use is for when the back seats are folded to provide a van-like space. Great idea.

A set of hooks, a separator bar and a retaining strap use a rail system, providing myriad ways to pack and secure.

Other features are a retractable cover, a stretchy grocery net, wet storage and rear-seat folding at a button touch.

Gee, this is a first for me - a review trained almost entirely on the car's tail. But what you get otherwise we've already reviewed and praised in the 2.0-litre petrol and diesel sedans.

Though entry level, the specs are excellent.

Both engines, via the latest direct-injection and turbo technology, provide lots of sparkle.

And they sip fuel, with even the petrol version under the 7.0L/100km luxury tax level.

Prices are $81,800 (petrol) and $82,900 (diesel), with the Technik Pack well worth adding.

For $3360, it provides bi-xenons, paddle shifts and quad-zone air, for dialling up precise climate cocoons for four.

And then there's the four cameras placed around the car.

These provide a screen image that appears to be taken from a camera hovering over the car.

An illusion, yes, but likely to prevent real scrapes and dents. Houdini would have liked this car.

The West Australian

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