Used Audi A6 review
A full used buyer’s guide on the Audi A6 covering the A6 Mk3 (2004-2011) and the A6 Mk4 (2011-date)
Audi A6 is one of the best.
Servicing and parts costs will be high – this is a premium brand model, after all – but efficient engines mean fuel bills won’t be as steep as you expect. As the third-generation A6 nears its 13th birthday, good second-hand examples start at £4,500 – that’s a lot of car for the money.
Audi A6 Mk3
Prices from £4,500
Third-generation A6 saloon arrived in March 2004, with the Avant estate following in January 2005. Initially, there was a choice of 2.4, 3.2 and 4.2-litre petrol engines, as well as a 3.0 TDI turbodiesel; a 2.0 TDI came in June 2004 and a 2.7 TDI in October 2004.
By December 2006 the 2.4 had been replaced by a 2.8 FSI, and in September 2008 the whole range was facelifted. All models got extra standard equipment, plus new front and rear styling.
A 3.0 TFSI engine superseded the 3.2 and 4.2 FSIs at the same time, while the eco-friendly 2.0 TDIe also arrived. An all-new MkIV A6 launched in spring 2011.
Audi A6 Mk3 reviews
Audi A6 in-depth reviewAudi A6 Allroad in-depth reviewAudi A6 2.0 TDI reviewAudi A6 2.0 TDIe reviewAudi A6 Avant 2.0 TDI reviewAudi A6 Avant 2.7 TDI reviewAudi A6 Avant 3.2 V6 reviewAudi A6 Allroad 3.0 TDI reviewAudi A6 long-term test review
Alternatives to the Audi A6 Mk3
The Lexus GS is ultra-refined, and well equipped, and although there are no diesels or estates, you can go green with the GS 450h hybrid. Also worth a look is the Jaguar XF. It’s a saloon only – the Sportbrake estate is too new for used forecourts – but was voted Car of the Decade by Auto Express readers in 2011 as the best car over 10 years of our Driver Power satisfaction survey.
What to look for:
As with most four-doors, A6 saloons have no rear wash-wipe. But on estates, the wash pipe can come away, and cause leaks.
Dual-mass flywheel breaks up on some A6s, causing a clutch failure, which can bring an expensive repair bill.
A6 2.0 TDI Multitronics can stall, as CVT sometimes struggles with engine braking.
All A6s are great cruisers; even the entry-level 2.0 TDI copes easily with fast A and B-roads. But while 18 or 19-inch wheels look great, they spoil an already firm ride – be sure to try before you buy.
Bigger-engined 4.2 V8 FSI and 3.0 TDI models get quattro four-wheel drive as standard, plus an automatic box; these are superb for towing. If a tow bar is fitted, ensure it was installed professionally and check the brakes and suspension aren’t worn out.
All A6s had variable servicing as standard. Cars with the optional 10,000-mile/12-month fixed intervals are rare, so a check should be needed every 9,000-20,000 miles or 12-24 months depending on how the car’s driven; this will cost £149-£319 on 2.0 models and £289-£489 on others.
Car group tests
Most engines are chain-driven, but the 2.0 TDI and TFSI have cambelts that need replacing, for around £500, every five years or 75,000 miles. Air-con should be recharged and brake fluid replaced every two years (£80 each), and the coolant needs renewing every four years, for £90.
Audi has recalled the MkIII A6 three times. The first issue concerned slow-firing airbags on cars built from February 2004 to March 2005. And the curtain airbags failed to inflate at all on some models, which brought the most recent callback, in December 2011.
The other recall came in September 2007, and affected A6 Avants with a powered tailgate made from June 2004 to July 2007. The tailgate could close of its own accord.
Check out the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) website for up-to-date recall information.
Driver Power owner satisfaction
Our view: The Mk3 A6’s best year in our Driver Power satisfaction survey was 2007, when it came 18th. It slumped to 53rd in 2012. Owners used to love its build, brakes and practicality; now it scores for ease of driving, but trails on handling and costs.
Your view: Adrian Finch from Hereford owns a 2007 A6 2.0 TDI Avant. “This smallest diesel is quick enough for everyday use,” he says. “Cabin and boot space are great, too. The dealer is superb, but charges a lot – although the A6 is worth every penny.”
This previous-generation A6 is starting to show its age, but don’t be put off. Prices are more tempting than ever, and an A6 Avant with quattro 4WD is ideal for towing a caravan – even better if you can find an Allroad model with air-suspension. All A6s are well equipped, but it’s worth going for one with a few choice options. Buy one of these at the right price and you’ll have the perfect mile muncher. Just watch out for running costs; they can add up as the mileage rises.