posted 5 years ago

Audi A6 Review

The fourth-generation A6 is Audi’s most serious rival yet to the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class, with sleek design, frugal engines and a very spacious interior that majors on build quality.

Pros: Attractive interior, well built, efficient engines, high specifications

Cons: Rivals are better to drive, steering lacks precision, expensive options

Model range

Trim range: SE, S line, Black Edition, Hybrid

Petrol engines: 2.0 TFSI hybrid (245)

Diesel engines: 2.0 TDI (177), 3.0 TDI (204, 245, 313)

Gearboxes: Six-speed manual, seven-speed automatic, Multitronic CVT

What is the Audi A6?

The A6 is Audi’s fourth-generation executive challenger. Its job is simple: to take sales from key German rivals such as the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class.

Road test

Performance

Audi A6 diesel engines outnumber the petrols four to one, so unless you want hybrid power, we’d recommend the basic 2.0-litre and range-topping 3.0-litre bi-turbo TDIs. With 177hp, the entry-level 2.0-litre TDI is no slouch and should be quick enough for most; it is torquey too, with 280lb ft of pulling power. Most A6 are sold with this engine and it is no short-change option.

At the other end of the scale, the 313hp, 3.0-litre V6 BiTDI both goes (and sounds) like no other diesel engine we've ever tried. It is the perfect diesel for those who don’t like diesel, although its addictive performance does have a negative effect on fuel economy. It’s still better than a V6 petrol would be, though.

Ride and handling

The latest Audi A6’s ride and handling is best described as composed and comfortable rather feeling sporty. Though its light build means this big Audi feels quite nimble in corners, we would like the steering to be sharper.

The optional adaptive air suspension doesn’t really help either. It might give a surprisingly refined ride on big alloys, but you have to be careful with the adjustable settings. If it is left in auto mode, there is too much body roll and the car is a bit floaty at speed. Playing with the other suspension settings doesn’t help much either.

Behind the wheel

Dashboard and driving position

We love the A6’s wraparound dashboard design, but there is more to like than just the style. The usual Audi top quality feel shines through in the interior finishes and switchgear, and we like the way the MMI screen rises from the centre of the dash on high-end models.

With plenty of adjustment for the steering column and seats, all should get comfortable – with one proviso: the pedals are badly offset to the right. This is less of an issue in automatic models but it can cause some leg-twisting discomfort for drivers of manual A6.

Visibility

The A6’s all-round visibility is excellent, helped by a high-set and commanding driving position. Extra security when parking is provided in the form of the Audi Parking System plus. This includes audio and visual alert at the front and rear of the car.

Gadgets and technology

All A6 versions have MMI Radio Plus with a retractable 6.5-inch screen, two memory card readers, a DAB radio and a single CD player that supports MP3, WMA and AAC formats. On top of this, it has an Audi sound system that includes 10-speakers, a subwoofer, a six channel amplifier and Bluetooth connectivity.

This comprehensive technical specification is completed by an MMI SD navigation system, with dynamic route guidance and voice control. The Black Edition adds the Audi Music Interface and a Bose sound system. Hybrid models are fitted with the MMI Navigation Plus system with touch control and the Audi Music Interface.

Tech guide

- Smartphone connectivity: Via Aux-in, Bluetooth, or the optional Audi Music Interface

- Navigation: The MMI Navigation and optional MMI Plus sat nav (the latter is more comprehensive and has better display graphics) are SD card and hard drive based respectively

- Personalisation: Both telephone and audio integration displays menus from user’s devices on the car display screens

- Audio: An SD memory socket, Aux-in socket and a DAB digital radio is standard on all models. Full integration of either iPod or iPhones and Bluetooth streaming is part of the Media Interface that is fitted to selected models (or available as an option on others)

- Internet: Yes, but you need both the MMI Plus navigation system and optional Audi Connect and technology packages

- Can it Tweet or Facebook: No, this Audi has no social media functionality

- What is the standout gadget on the Audi A6: The MMI Plus navigation system which includes the Audi Music Interface and internet connectivity

Passenger space and practicality

Passenger space

There’s plenty of head, leg and shoulder room in the back of the A6 (not far shy of the bigger Audi A8, in fact), so even two tall passengers will be very comfortable. Optional dual-zone rear climate control adds to the luxury feel.

Boot space

The A6 just trumps its arch-rival, the BMW 5 Series, at 520 litres, but the Mercedes E-Class has a little less at 490 litres. The A6 also has a split/fold rear seat as standard, to boost boot space to 995 litres; if you need more practical load space, Audi also offers Avant estate versions of the A6.

Refinement

The current model is generally a refined car, but there is still some wind noise at speed and road noise, which gets worse the bigger the alloy wheels. The BiTDI has a noise synthesiser that makes the V6 diesel sound like a burbling V8 petrol, which is very satisfying.

Safety

Audi A6 safety is as impressive as you would expect, with six airbags, traction control and electronic stability control as standard. This equals a top five-star rating in Euro NCAP crash tests.

Running Costs/Value for Money/Pricing

Fuel economy

Audi might offer a hybrid petrol version of the A6, but with 145g/km of CO2 emissions it is not the most cost-effective member of the range. Instead, the 177hp 2.0-litre TDI diesel is probably a better bet, as in manual form, it is capable of 57.6mpg on the combined fuel cycle and has CO2 emissions of 129g/km.

The BiTDI averages 44.8mpg which actually makes it the least efficient A6 on sale, although it is still much more economical than a petrol car with this amount of performance would be.

Quality

Quality is faultless: as impressive as you would expect an Audi to be. The A6 really does feel more special inside and out than BMW and Mercedes rivals, thanks to excellent overall build standards and impeccable attention to detail.

Pricing and equipment

At £30,985, the A6 2.0-litre TDI SE manual is a good place to start and with impressive levels of standard equipment, we’re not sure moving up the range represents value for money.

The manual BMW 520d is probably this A6’s closest rival and it has more power at 184hp versus the Audi’s 177hp. The BMW is also cleaner with 125g/km of CO2 emissions, but does cost more at £31,530.

Value for money

All Audi A6 models are very well-equipped (SE is the ‘standard’ trim, with S line mainly adding sports suspension and other sporting features), but there is also a vast list of optional extras which can soon bump up the list price, so check carefully.

Key rivals

We would naturally look at the established German rivals, the BMW 5 Series and the Mercedes E-Class. We would also consider the Jaguar XF and the recently launched Lexus GS.

VERDICT

Its rivals offer a more dynamic driving experience, but the Audi A6 is an attractive choice, with its high quality build and efficient engine choices. You can’t go far wrong here.