Conor Mills | Freelance Automotive and Travel Journalist

Freelance Automotive and Travel Journalist

Review: Audi A6

Posted by Admin On October - 28 - 2008

The revamped version of Audi’s executive express looks similar but a range of new engines promises improved economy and reduced emissions.

There’s little doubt the new A6 has a lot to live up to. The previous generation, launched back in 2005, has gone on to become the best-selling car in its sector – setting impressive standards for refinement, build quality and drivability. It was cheaper than its closest rivals too. But has Audi got this new version of the A6 right, or is it destined to live in the shadow of its hugely successful predecessor?

Looking at the car – saloon and Avant estate versions go on sale at the same time – it’s hard to notice many differences from the previous generation, but a few subtle enhancements have been made. LED daytime-running lights, originally used on Audi’s R8, make their debut, the front bumper has been restyled, and new trim strips now run down the skirts. LED tail lamps mean the brake lights are instantly recognizable now, and a gentle lip on the boot lid completes rear changes.

But Audi has not concentrated its efforts on producing a piece of art with the new A6. Instead, it has turned to the engines – and with rising fuel costs and new emission regulations, these changes are essential to Audi’s future.

The petrol engine range now comprises a 168bhp 2.0-litre TFSI and a 217bhp 2.8-litre FSI, and the diesel options are a 168bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre TDI, a 187bhp 2.7-litre TDI and a 237bhp 3.0-litre TDI. Transmissions are available in a combination of six-speed manual, six-speed Tiptronic and seven-speed Multitronic gearboxes.

There are also two completely new engines making debuts: a 3.0-litre V6 TFSI petrol, which replaces the old 3.2-litre unit, and an ultra-efficient 134bhp 2.0-litre named the TDIe, which along with the other 2.0-litre TDI is predicted to be the UK’s most popular engine choice, accounting for approximately 65 per cent of all A6 sales, with 95 per cent of total sales in Britain expected to be diesels.

We drove the two-litre TDIe. The ‘e’ stands for ‘efficient’ and the oil-burner is the greenest machine of the upgraded A6 range, the result of a combination of taller gear ratios, a new power-steering pump and an alternator that charges the battery while the car is coasting. The ride height is 20mm lower than any of the other A6s too, assisting the car aerodynamically. These changes mean the Audi manages consumption and emission figures of 53.3mpg and the 139g/km respectively, and importantly it now qualifies for the lowest company car tax band for a diesel.

We tested the A6 on a combination of city and country roads and in terms of ride-quality and drivability it impressed. The 134bhp engine offers plenty of pace when it is needed and with 236lb ft of torque from 1,750rpm, the Audi has excellent lowdown torque making it a quick starter. It accelerates from 0-62mph in 10.3 seconds using the more efficient six-speed manual gearbox and it goes on to a top speed of 129mph. It is also available with a seven-speed Multitronic transmission.

In handling terms the A6s steering lacks feel and is light. It has plenty of grip, however, particularly for a large car, though an overly stiff ride is the tradeoff for that. Unlike in other A6s where air suspension is available, in the TDIe steel-sprung suspension is the only option and this could be a problem on long journeys along unforgiving British country roads.

There are three UK trims: Standard, SE and S-line. SE is expected to be the most popular, with a generous standard spec including 16-inch alloys, air-con, cruise control, rain and light sensors and leather upholstery. The driving position is adaptable and offers good visibility while the back and front both have excellent legroom. And like previous A6s cabin noise is minimal, although in the diesels there is a slight grumble when idling or using the throttle in lower gears.

Audi’s third-generation Multimedia Interface (MMI) makes its debut and improvements to the sleek centre console unit include 3D sat-nav, Bluetooth, phone and iPod connectivity. The boot is large and as with previous A6s you can be assured of the highest levels of safety across the board. The whole range continues to set the standard after achieving the prestigious NCAP five star rating.

It’s going to be a stiff challenge for the company to retain its crown as top executive saloon with BMW’s new 5-Series and the revised E-class on the way, but on this showing we wouldn’t want to bet against Audi.

TECH SPEC

Price/availability: from £24,800 for 2.0 TDIe to £37,440 for 3.0 TFSI. On sale now.

Engines/transmissions: 2.0 TFSI: 1,984cc four-cylinder turbocharged petrol with four valves per cylinder; 168bhp from 4,300 to 6,000rpm, 206lb ft of torque from 1,800-4,200rpm. Six-speed manual or seven-speed Multitronic (continuously variable) transmission, front-wheel drive.

2.8 FSI: 2,773cc V6 petrol with DOHC. 217bhp from 5,750-6,800rpm, 206lb ft from 3,000-5,000rpm. Seven-speed Multitronic transmission with front-wheel drive, or six-speed Tiptronic with all-wheel drive.

3.0 TFSI Quattro: 2,995cc V6 petrol with DOHC. 286bhp from 4,850-6,800rpm, 310lb ft from 2,500-4,850rpm. Six-speed Tiptronic transmission, all-wheel drive.

2.0 TDIe: 1,968 four-cyl turbodiesel with DOHC. 134bhp at 4,000rpm, 236lb ft from 1,750-2,500rpm. Six-speed manual or seven-speed Multitronic gearbox, front-wheel drive.

2.0 TDI: 1,968 four-cyl turbodiesel with DOHC. 168bhp at 4,200rpm, 258lb ft from 1,750-2,500rpm. Six-speed manual or seven-speed Multitronic gearbox, front-wheel drive.

2.7 TDI: 2,698 V6 turbodiesel with DOHC. 187bhp from 3,500-4,400rpm, 295lb ft from 1,400-3,500rpm (Quattro 332lb ft). Six-speed manual or seven-speed Multitronic gearbox, front-wheel drive (Quattro, six-speed manual or seven-speed Multitronic, all-wheel drive).

3.0 TDI Quattro: 2,967 V6 turbodiesel with DOHC. 237bhp from 4,000-4,400rpm, 369lb ft from 1,500-3,000rpm. Six-speed manual or six-speed Tiptronic gearbox, all-wheel drive.

Performance (manual/automatic): 2.0 TFSI; top speed 141/139mph, 0-62mph in 8.2/8.5sec, EU Urban fuel consumption 37.6/36.6mpg, CO2 emissions 174/179g/km.

2.8 FSI; 149mph, 7.3sec, 33.6mpg, 196g/km.

2.8 FSI Quattro; 149mph, 7.7sec, 31.3mpg, 212g/km.

3.0 TFSI; 155mph, 5.9sec, 30.0mpg, 219g/km.

2.0 TDIe; 129/126mph, 10.3/9.9sec, 53.3/48.7mpg, 139/151g/km.

2.0 TDI; 139/135mph, 8.9/8.9sec, 49.5/48.7mpg, 149/153g/km.

2.7 TDI; 144/141mph, 7.9/7.9sec, 45.5/44.1mpg, 164/169g/km.

2.7 TDI Quattro; 142mph, 8.2sec, 39.7mpg, 189g/km.

3.0 TDI Quattro; 155/155mph, 6.6/6.8sec, 42.1/39.7mpg, 179/189g/km.

We like: Low emissions and high fuel consumption, good value, well manufactured, stylish interior and excellent safety rating.

We don’t like: Lack of exterior changes, standard option can look a bit dull, outperformed in a straight line by rivals.

Alternatives

Mercedes E-Class, from £24,900. BMW 5-Series, from £27,000.

Publication: The Daily Telegraph

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