Understanding the Audi A6 line-up
Until Audi Sport serves up the inevitable S6 and RS6 firecrackers, the engine line-up is headed by the 3.0 V6 TFSI driven here. As is de rigueur, it houses its turbochargers within the 90deg vee, and the exhaust manifold melds into the cylinder head for a quicker warm-up sequence. It’s mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox that’s also found in the predicted best seller: a 2.0-litre 40 TDI model with 204bhp.
At launch, there will also be a 3.0 V6 TDI with 280bhp and a new entry-level diesel V6 in the form of the 45 TDI. Both models use a regular eight-speed automatic gearbox and also feature a self-locking centre differential.
Those S tronic cars with twin clutches, meanwhile, are fitted with quattro ‘Ultra’ four-wheel-drive technology, which uses a clutch to distribute torque to the rear, front-wheel drive being the more economical option in everyday driving. If that doesn’t sound particularly sporty, it’s because it isn’t.
The mild hybridisation comes in the form of a 48-volt system for six-cylinder engines and a 12-volter for anything else. The idea is that a belt alternator/starter connected to the crank recovers energy under deceleration and stores it in a lithium ion battery under the boot. That same starter reawakens the engine after up to 40 seconds of dormant coasting at speeds between 34 and 99mph, and it allows start-stop to function at marginally higher speeds. For the more powerful system, the upshot is a fuel saving worth about 4mpg, claims Audi.
Does Audi impress with the A6's design and interior?
You know what? Derivative it may be, but this car is quite handsome and, to these eyes, considerably more cohesive in the metal than either the A8 or even the A7.
The balance of hard and soft edges is well struck, and the body is nicely adorned with some chrome and the fancy optional HD Matrix LED headlights of our test car. New bone lines exaggerate (create from scratch, in truth) haunches above the wheel arches, and the overhangs are shorter – something that never seems to do any harm to a car’s appearance.
The optional, part-Alcantara sports seats are broad and set low. They’re almost as nice to sit in as they are to behold, and the perfectly singular thulk emitted as you swing shut the aluminium door could well be unmatched in all of automotive-dom. You might even open the door for a second time, just to close it again. The mechanism is a marvel.
Within, you’re met with Audi’s novel MMI digital architecture, which uses two touchscreens (8.6in for climate control and writing input below, 10.1in for everything else on top). This is where Audi aims to stand out from the crowd, and it looks mighty slick, even if all that glass does attract dust that readily catches any sunlight.
Is the initial effect of all the menus and lack of switchgear puzzling? Absolutely. Is it slick? Mostly, but there’s some latency between the haptic feedback from a command and the corresponding action.
With familiarity, you’d probably grow to love the MMI, although there will always be the argument that a second display for climate control is distracting overkill. Meanwhile, Audi’s digital instrument cluster, known as Virtual Cockpit, is as effective and visually appealing as ever.
Getting the Audi A6 out on the road
On the move, the seven-speed S tronic ’box floats through its ratios in double time, to the extent that you can find yourself gliding along in top even in built-up areas. That’s great for fuel economy and refinement, but the delay between foot punching accelerator, the correct cog being selected and torque making its way to the road is such that the overtake you’d planned is usually ancient history. Better to the keep the powertrain in Dynamic and the chassis in Comfort – something you can do in Individual mode.