Potent A6 gears up to leave competitors in its trail

It features some innovative new tech but does this affect the way the new Audi A6 drives? Ryan Hirons finds out.

Potent A6 gears up to leave competitors in its trail

It features some innovative new tech but does this affect the way the new Audi A6 drives? Ryan Hirons finds out.

WHAT’S NEW?

As to be expected, there’s a lot of new stuff going on here — most noticeably in the looks department. The Audi A6 takes on the bolder design language introduced on the A8, bringing a sleeker appearance along with a much wider grille and fresh headlights.

Under the bonnet, the A6 is the first-in-class to offer mild-hybrid technology across all of its engine choices as standard, while new suspension options have been introduced in an effort to create a more agile car.

As for technology, self-learning navigation aims to create an optimal route based on your driving history, while centre console-based physical controls for functions such as air conditioning and audio controls have been replaced with touchscreen, utilising haptic feedback.

WHAT’S UNDER THE BONNET?

At its launch, the A6 will be available with a choice of three engines — one petrol and three diesels, all of which utilise mild-hybrid technology.

Our test car was fitted with the sole petrol option on offer. It’s a 3.0-litre V6 engine producing 335bhp and 500Nm of torque, here paired up with a seven-speed automatic gearbox that sends power through all four wheels.

It’s capable of taking the A6 from 0-60mph in 4.9 seconds and can power the car on to an electronically-limited top speed of 155mph. Official figures for MPG and CO2 emissions have yet to be confirmed, however. It’s an extremely potent unit, delivering impressive and usable performance for a car weighing in at 1,825kg. Don’t expect supercar-levelling speed, but it’s more than enough for most needs while the gearbox pairs perfectly for a smooth experience under heavy acceleration or at a gentle cruise.

WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE?

Audi’s brought a lot of new technology in for the A6 in an effort to create a better driving experience, but the results vary. At its most comfortable when cruising for long distances, its plentiful power combines well with the introduction of air suspension to create a relaxing ride when eating up the miles — aided by little in the way of wind noise.

As for more spirited driving, the A6 is capable of doing it with ease — just don’t expect it to put a smile on your face. It handles well and doesn’t kick up a fuss when pushed hard, but the overall experience feels pretty uninvolving. It will undertake town driving with little fuss for a car of this size thanks to the addition of four-wheel steering, which results in a more agile machine at lower speeds.

HOW DOES IT LOOK?

Audi are the experts, if not the pioneers, in Russian doll car design, each model taking after the last. The A6 is no exception, with the firm’s updated design language making a strong impact. That means a hugely wide grille upfront with bold headlights sitting at either side, while a sleeker overall look is seldom interrupted by creases in the bodywork. It’s a handsome thing to look at and has a presence of a car far bigger than it actually is. You’re likely to turn heads in a big Audi anyway, but the design could do that without the four rings up front.

WHAT’S IT LIKE INSIDE?

As you should expect, it’s an incredibly plush place to sit in. Premium materials feature right through the cabin, without a scratchy plastic surface in sight, and it all feels good to the touch. We also suspect it’ll be pretty durable long-term.

It’s not all good news inside though. Although the leather seats up front feel comfortable, they offer little in the way of support, meaning those of a smaller stature might be likely to slide about under harder cornering. The 8.6-inch touchscreen, which replaces physical controls in the centre console for functions such as air-conditioning and seat heating/ventilation, works well and responsively at a standstill, but can be difficult to use when travelling at speed.

WHAT’S THE SPEC LIKE?

Standard luxuries on the saloon include full LED headlights, 18in alloy wheels, all-wheel drive, mild-hybrid technology, and Audi’s MMI infotainment system displayed on an 10.1-inch touchscreen. As for safety assistance, there’s also pre-collision warning, parking sensors with a rear-view camera, and cruise control.

Our S Line test machine also came with upgraded ‘Audi Matrix’ LED headlights and daytime running lights, 10mm lower suspension, and a S Line styling package, while heated/ventilated seating was also included. Again, pricing isn’t official, but it is expected to reach £60k+ (€68.4k+) in this specification.

VERDICT

The Audi A6 has all the hallmarks of a new class leader in the executive saloon segment. It offers a solid and potent range of engines, bags of technology, and a comfortable experience wrapped in a handsome body.

We’d like to have a more engaging experience in harder driving, along with some more physical buttons inside the car, but these are minor annoyances in an otherwise exceptional car. It’s hard to judge just how successful it will be without having exact pricing, but if marketed right, it could well leave competitors in its trail.

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