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Used car tests

Used Audi A6 (Mk5, 2018-date) buyer’s guide: classy exec is a great family car

A full used buyer’s guide on the Audi A6 covering the A6 Mk5 that’s been on sale since 2018

Verdict

The world seems to have moved on from traditional saloons and estates, but the Audi A6 shows why the answer isn’t always an SUV, not least because there are plenty of four-wheel-drive examples. As a result you get the extra traction with the practicality of a large family estate – and that’s a level of space which often exceeds a similarly-sized SUV. While the lower seating position means you don’t have as much forward visibility as in an SUV, the driving experience is better, thanks to a lower centre of gravity. However, when we pitched an A6 against a BMW 5 Series in 2018, it was the latter that won. So while the A6 is a superb family car – it’s not necessarily the best car in its class.

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Audi has spent around four decades or so in the UK carefully honing and expanding its product range, building a reputation for making some of the most hi-tech and sophisticated cars around. 

Whether you want a supermini or a V10-powered supercar, Audi has the answer, while its SUV options are especially plentiful. But some buyers prefer something that’s more traditional, and it’s for them that Audi still offers executive cars such as the A6, which marks its 30th birthday this year. 

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Previously sold as the 100, Audi’s large executive saloon and Avant estate were rebranded A6 in 1994, and the model is still in production today. More luxurious and sophisticated than ever, the fifth-generation A6 is a desirable all-rounder.

History

The A6 Mk5 saloon arrived in September 2018. At first there were just two 3.0-litre V6 engines, the 40 TFSI petrol with 335bhp and the 282bhp 50 TDI diesel. Both came only with an automatic transmission, mild-hybrid tech, and quattro four-wheel drive. 

Within weeks an Avant (estate) version was available, then from November 2018, both bodystyles were offered with a 201bhp 2.0-litre 40 TDI diesel engine, once again with mild-hybrid tech and an automatic gearbox. At first the TDI came only with front-wheel drive, but a quattro edition was launched a few months later. 

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The first ever plug-in hybrid A6 was introduced in spring 2020, the 362bhp 55 TFSI e saloon, which was followed by the 295bhp 50 TFSI e a few months later, in both saloon and Avant forms.

Which one should I buy?

All A6s of this generation came with an automatic transmission, and every powertrain is enjoyable to use. The diesels are in the most plentiful supply and make the most sense financially; they’re all ULEZ-compliant, too. The plug-in hybrid saloons might suit some, but the Avants are so much more expensive that the up-front costs might be prohibitive. 

At launch there were just two trims: Sport and S line. Both had heated front seats, leather trim, a rear-view camera plus front and rear parking sensors, and matrix LED headlights. Sport had 18-inch alloy wheels. 

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The S line added 19-inch wheels, electrically adjustable front seats, leather and Alcantara trim, sport suspension and a bodykit. The Black Edition (from April 2019) had 20-inch wheels, a Bose hi-fi and black exterior trim instead of chrome.

Alternatives to the Audi A6

The closest rival to the A6 is from within Audi’s own ranks. The A7 is an A6 with hatchback practicality, largely the same engine options and a familiar interior. If you’d prefer to stick with a saloon or estate, then the Mercedes E-Class is formidable with its great engines, impressive build quality and decent comfort levels. The BMW 5 Series also comes with superb engines and it’s a lot more enjoyable to drive than the A6. 

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Outside of the German trio, you could have a Jaguar XF, which is great value in this company and fun to drive, but now looks dated. Less obvious are the Volvo S90 and V90, which are stylish inside and out, safe and well equipped. Finally there’s the hybrid Lexus ES, which came solely as a saloon.

What to look for

Hot diesel

The S6 joined the range in saloon and Avant guise in spring 2019, with a 345bhp 3.0-litre V6 diesel and mild-hybrid tech.

Quattro

The 2.0 TDI came with front-wheel drive as standard, but quattro was offered. Most Avants have it, but only 20 per cent of saloons.

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Hybrid

Audi claimed that the plug-in hybrid 50 TFSI e saloon was capable of 188mpg. In reality, expect to average 50-60mpg.

Mist again

The headlights can mist up, but they’re designed to do this, because they’re not completely sealed. Given that they’re LED, they don’t get hot.

Interior

Sit in the A6 and it’s easy to think you’re in the A8, such is the quality and hi-tech design in the cabin. Everywhere you look there are premium materials, digital screens and buttons. At first this can be daunting, but it’s pretty user-friendly. 

You work the climate settings via the touchscreen, but the voice control is so good that you rarely need to press anything. Cabin space is excellent, with room for five adults, although whoever sits in the middle of the back seat will have to straddle the transmission tunnel. Boot space is impressive, with 530 litres in the saloon, and 586/1,680 litres (seats up/down) in the A6 Avant.

Prices

A6 saloons are plentiful, with buyers likely to pay just a small premium for an equivalent estate. Most A6s have a diesel engine; while petrol-powered cars have typically covered fewer miles. Plug-in hybrids are the rarest of the lot.

Running costs

All A6s come with fixed or variable maintenance schedules, with the latter the default option; services alternate between Minor and Major. An A6 can go for up to two years or 18,600 miles between checks; cars on the fixed regime need attention every 12 months or 9,600 miles. A Minor service costs £300 and the Major is £440. 

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After three years an A6 is eligible for discounted servicing at £250 or £430 (Minor/Major) for 2.0-litre models; prices are £295 and £465 for 3.0-litre editions. Only the 2.0 TDi has a cambelt, which has to be replaced every 140,000 miles at £850; all other engines are chain driven. The standard warranty runs for three years or 60,000 miles, but can be extended.

Recalls

Audi has recalled the A6 Mk5 four times so far. The first campaign came in December 2018, because 59 A6s left the factory with a faulty panoramic sunroof; they were all made between July and October 2018. 

Recall two came in March 2021 because some A6s made up to the end of 2020 were fitted with airbags that wouldn’t inflate in the event of a collision; this glitch also affected some A7s. Next, a recall was issued because a wide array of Audi models, built between November 2019 and February 2021, were fitted with sub-standard retaining nuts for the rear axle. 

The fourth recall was issued in February 2022, this time because some cars left workshops with the suspension geometry incorrectly set, after the work from the third campaign had been undertaken.

Driver Power owner satisfaction

The A6 hasn’t appeared in a Driver Power survey since 2017, and that was the previous generation, which came 34th out of 75 entries. Considering how broad the firm’s model range is, surprisingly few Audis appear in our surveys.

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