Audi A6 review
The Audi A6 blends sleek styling with cutting-edge tech and unimpeachable build quality
The Audi A6 offers a masterclass in the art of the executive saloon. Its elegant, sophisticated styling carries just the right amount of gravitas without being austere, while impeccable motorway manners will ensure even those covering serious miles can do so in the utmost comfort.
There’s more space than ever inside, while the trio of infotainment displays provide a futuristic environment. The absence of a rotary controller for those screens takes some getting used to, but they’re emblematic of the A6’s hi-tech nature, as are the state-of-the-art driver assistance systems.
Audi offers the A6 with an array of engine options: there are two diesels, three petrols and a petrol-electric plug-in hybrid setup to choose from. All of the engines are hybrids, though only the plug-in one is capable of electric-only driving: the rest feature a mild-hybrid setup that helps improve economy and optimise power delivery. And while previous generations of A6 have underwhelmed from behind the wheel, the latest model is impressively sharp to drive - making it a closer rival to the BMW 5 Series than ever before.
The new Audi A6 arrived in 2018 and is currently available in saloon and Avant estate guises. The range is bolstered by a toughened-up Allroad Avant and go-faster S6 and RS6 versions, with the former limited to diesel power and the latter available only as an Avant estate. As usual, the standard A6 comes in Sport, S line, Vorsprung and Black Edition trims, and all offer the kind of hi-tech luxury that executive car buyers are accustomed to when upgrading to a new model.
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We're used to the Audi A6 challenging its German rivals, the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class, for class honours, but these days it's not just these two that the A6 has to contend with. The Jaguar XF is an alternative choice, as is the Volvo S90 and the Maserati Ghibli. Another car worth considering is the Lexus ES, which offers petrol-electric drive across the board.
That's something the new A6 also offers, but not quite in the same vein. All cars get a 48-volt electrical system that delivers 'mild hybrid' tech that allows coasting at speed to help boost fuel economy, and also offers a power boost when getting off the line. A plug-in hybrid 50 TFSI e version is also available, and is aimed squarely at plug-in rivals from BMW, Volvo and Mercedes.
Something else that boosts fuel economy is the A6's slippery shape. The traditional three-box design has evolved to incorporate styling cues from the larger A8 limo, but the A6 is still its own distinct design, and can't be easily confused with its executive class rivals.
The standard range features two TDI diesels, three TFSI petrol engines and a TFSI e petrol-electric plug-in hybrid. These are badged 40 TDI, 50 TDI, 40 TFSI, 45 TFSI, 55 TFSI and 50 TFSI e respectively under Audi's latest nomenclature. The 50 TDI is a 282bhp V6 and the 40 TDI is a 201bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder, while petrol engines are a four-cylinder with 201bhp or 261bhp and a 3.0-litre V6 with 335bhp. Lastly, the 50 TFSI e’s four-cylinder petrol engine and electric motor produce a combined 295bhp.
All engines come with an automatic gearbox: the 50 TDI gets a conventional eight-speed Tiptronic torque converter, while the remaining engine options come with Audi’s seven-speed dual-clutch S tronic unit. Audi also offers four suspension options, including plush air suspension as found on the larger Audi A8.
As standard, the 40 TFSI petrol and 40 TDI diesel engines come out of the box with front-wheel drive. However, the entry-level diesel Audi A6 can be specified with the quattro four-wheel drive system that comes as standard all of the remaining engine options for the A6.
In the cabin, there's even more inspiration from the A8, with a plush interior packed with hi-tech treats. There's the latest version of Audi's MMI interface that controls all the cabin functions. This comprises a pair of touchscreens with haptic feedback, which means they mimic physical buttons by clicking and vibrating when a function is pressed.
There's a raft of driving aids that put the A6 at the cutting edge of assisted driving technology, too. Add all the safety options available, and you'll get five radar sensors, five cameras, twelve ultrasonic sensors and a laser scanner. These combine to equip the A6 with adaptive cruise control, active lane assistance and self-parking, while an advanced city braking system is designed to scans for obstacles crossing the car’s path in urban environments.
Interior space is greater than you'll find in the past A6. In addition, a stiffer bodyshell, extra sound deadening and a sharper driving experience mean the A6 is still a strong contender in the class. It's a flawless motorway companion, delivering a near-silent cruise, but on smaller roads it offers an agility that was missing from previous generations of A6 - and this allows it to compete more closely with the BMW 5 Series than ever.
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe Audi A6 blends sleek styling with cutting-edge tech and unimpeachable build quality
- 2Engines, performance and driveSharper, faster and more dynamic than the old car, the A6 will reward keen drivers, but still soothe long-distance motorists
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsAdding mild hybrid tech means that the A6 should be competitively frugal
- 4Interior, design and technologyNo fewer than three display screens inhabit the superbly-built A6, which features a huge depth and breadth of features
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceAudi has worked hard to improve the A6’s interior space, and it shows
- 6Reliability and SafetyTop-notch safety and assistance systems should ensure maximum protection in the A6, but Audi’s warranty is only average