Audi A6 2.0 TDI

11 Feb, 2011 11:52am Adam Towler

Entry-level version of new Audi A6 saloon offers a winning blend of refinement and value - but can it stand up to rivals from Mercedes and BMW?


The A6 is not the most fun car to drive in the class, and its styling is deliberately bland, – so as not to offend its loyal customer base. However, its blend of talents makes it a serious contender in a very closely fought sector. Its slick presentation and quality feel, inside and out, are combined with a laid-back driving experience and excellent refinement – all attributes that will no doubt appeal to the core audience of company car drivers. The A6’s low running costs also add significantly to its desirability.
This is the model which Audi hopes will score a direct hit in the executive car park. Some 75 per cent of orders for the new A6 are expected to be for the entry-level 2.0-litre TDI model – so is this the strongest weapon in the BMW 5-Series rival’s armoury?

It uses an all-new platform built from an aluminium and steel mix, enabling a kerbweight up to 80kg lighter across the range than the car it replaces. The design of the bodywork itself is less ambitious, retaining strong family design cues from the recent A8 and A7 models, and plenty from the current A4. It’s crisp and impressive, if rather predictable. 

Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Audi A6

The 2.0-litre TDI boasts 175bhp and 380Nm of torque, which drives the front wheels only through a six-speed manual gearbox. With an on-demand water pump, energy recovery system, stop-start and an intelligent alternator, the A6 returns 57.7mpg and emits 129g/km of CO2 – both figures are on a par with the BMW 520d.

Although this is the entry-level A6, the four-cylinder unit doesn’t make it feel like the pauper’s choice. The strong torque delivery means it has respectable performance for a car in this class – 0-62mph in 8.7 seconds – with decent overtaking shove available at most speeds.

Although the 2.0-litre engine can’t match the smoothness or quietness of the larger V6 TDI models (which are helped by the extra ratio in the V6’s S tronic gearbox), it is still a fine long-distance companion. 

Audi has worked very hard on increasing refinement, including a new slippery, aerodynamic body, and it shows. Our base-spec 2.0-litre TDI ran on the standard 17-inch wheels and tyres with steel, rather than air suspension. As a result, it offers a fine ride and handling balance. Bumps and potholes are dealt with quietly and confidently. In that respect, it’s better than some of Audi’s S line models we’ve driven before.

However, the firm’s claims of a sporty driving experience are some way wide of the mark. The new electro-mechanical steering system may be more efficient, but it offers very little connection with the road, and the chassis doesn’t feel particularly dynamic, occasionally getting caught out by mid-corner bumps at speed. 

Even so, the 2.0-litre TDI is a more rewarding drive than the bigger diesels. Tipping the scales at only 1,575kg, you can feel the lightness in the increased agility and responsiveness it offers. As with the other new A6 models, the 2.0-litre TDI features a superbly built cabin with excellent seats and, in particular, plenty of room in the rear.

Standard specification is comprehensive for the UK market, including the superb 6.5-inch colour screen, leather seats and the Audi Drive Select control interface. At £30,145 – slightly more than a BMW 520d SE, but less than a comparable Mercedes E220 CDI Avantgarde – the new A6 makes a formidable rival.

Rival: BMW 520d SE 
The entry-level diesel 5-Series costs £715 less than the A6. However, it doesn’t come with satellite navigation as standard. The 184bhp BMW is slightly faster, and is also more engaging to drive.

Disqus - noscript

Another utterly boring forgettable Audi. Why are Audi making every car look the same?? The new A4 isn't all that, the A5 is a A4 2door saloon, the A1 looks like an A3, the A5 / A7 5door is pointless, the new A8 is such a huge disapointment because it looks like the new A4, the old A8 was lovely, the old A6 was never a looker, but the RS6 was a different animal, I liked that. The new A6 looks no different to Audi's latest range and who's gonna drive it? It's a rep mobile. Jaguar XF meanwhile is a whole load of awesomeness, class, style, prestige, beauty and has a more prestigious badge and looks like the designers actually put some pride in to it.

The new design language of audi is quite striking and is certainly a lot better looking than the model it replaces.

This model will probably sell in boat loads, as did the last model.

It's certainly a close call between the Audi, BMW and merc.

As for the jag, it aint british any more. It's lost it's class! And those headlights are just ugly!!

Key specs

* Price: £30,145
* Engine: 2.0-litre turbodiesel
* Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
* Power/torque: 175bhp/380Nm
* Top speed: 141mph
* 0-60mph: 8.7 seconds
* Economy: 57.7mpg
* CO2: 129g/km
* Equipment: Leather seats, sat-nav, climate control, 17-inch alloys
* On sale: Now
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