It's been a while since Audi India launched the A6 Matrix at a starting price of Rs 49.5 lakh, ex-showroom, Delhi and although we do not have specific numbers, the model seems to be doing well. The A6 anyways is an important car for Audi in the growing mid-size luxury sedan segment and hence Audi has gone beyond making cosmetic changes alone. Instead, the company has worked on a number of areas including drivability, safety, comfort and efficiency. We drove the A6 Matrix around Delhi for a couple of days to find out how much of a difference do these changes bring about in the experience for the driver/ occupant.
The A6 Matrix isn't radically different from the older model in terms of design, but it does manage to look sharper and slightly different when inspected closely. The front has been designed to look sharper with a new grille and bumper, both of which lend a dyamic character to the front. The highlight of the new car is the new headlamp, which uses Matrix technology. In simple terms, the headlamp consists of an array of LEDs with reflectors, a combination that automatically maintains the longest-possible illumination distance. In case of oncoming traffic, sensors can automatically switch-off the required number of LEDs to avoid dazzling other drivers.
The headlamp itself is slimmer than the one found on the earlier model, adding to the sharp and energetic look of the front. The LED pattern resembling an arrow is impressive to look at and now comes with dynamic turn indicators, which light up from one end to another in a sequential manner. The new 18-inch five-spoke alloy wheels compliment the look of the A6 and adequately fill the wheel well. Offered in S line package, there's corresponding badging too on the front side fender. The rear too has been updated with a new bumper and twin-trapezoidal exhaust pipes. There's also a new chrome strip on the tailgate to enhance the premium-feel of the vehicle.
The interior of the A6 Matrix has been updated considerably and now offers a combination of new and improved features. The MMI infotainment system has been upgraded for enhanced functionality and now offers a 20.32 cm colour-display along with improved user functionality and interface. A remote to control the MMI functions, makes clear the focus is on the rear-seat passenger. The rear seat itself is spacious and offers good under-thigh and back support. Headroom is generous and one can adjust the front passenger seat form the rear to access extra legroom, which is impressive even with the front seat pulled back.
There are new wood inlays and Milano leather upholstery, which add to the high-quality feel of the cabin. Front seats adequately-sized and are comfortable with good all-round support. All the buttons on the dashboard are ergonomically laid-out and instrument-cluster readability is clear. Safety remains uncompromised with 8 airbags, ABS, Traction control and the list goes on.
The A6 Matrix is powered by an improved 2.0 L TDI engine, which is 7% more powerful and 5% more fuel-efficient. The engine develops 190 hp and 400 Nm of torque between 1,750 to 3,000 rpm and is paired to a new dual-clutch 7-speed S Tronic transmission. The car accelerates without any lag and the extra power is easily identifiable, when driving on the highway. NVH levels are well-kept in check and adds to the feeling of comfort during long-drives.
The 7-speed S Tronic transmission has its positives and negatives, primarily because of its non-willingness to downshift as quickly as expected. The transmission has been calibrated in favour of fuel-efficiency and as a result, the transmission tries to stay in the highest gear for the longest time possible. The unit is more than willing to upshift at any given time, thereby helping save fuel.
However, many of the A6 cars sold will be chauffeur-driven so the downsides of the transmission will not matter to them. For those who enjoy driving, can make use of the paddle-shifters, which improve things significantly. I recorded a 0-100 km/h sprint of 8.6 seconds in the A6 Matrix, which is an impressive time for a car of its size and weight.
Audi Drive Select offers four driving modes – Comfort, Dynamic, Auto, Individual. Based on the selected mode, things such as steering, suspension and throttle are adjusted to offer a corresponding driving experience. Equipped with the Adaptive Air Suspension, the A6 Matrix offers a soft and comfortable ride quality. During my drive, I mostly drove on good roads, giving no reasons to complain but some bad roads, thanks to the monsoon, were dealt with aplomb by the A6 as the cabin remained largely unaffected in Comfort mode. Handling through long-corners is also impressive and body-roll although evident isn't bad enough to affect the composure. The steering however, like many other Audi vehicles offers hardly any feedback and feels artificial.
A surprising thing about the A6 Matrix is that it ain't got no famed Quattro and is a front-wheel drive car. While you might think of it as a negative, it really isn't one. Reason is, the A6 being an executive sedan isn't meant for enthusiasts to go burning rubber around a track. The A6 was designed to take people from point A to point B in comfort, luxury and style and if needed the entire family for a weekend outing, and for all those and many other occassions, the A6 Matrix is just about perfect. At its price, one can't argue about it being competitive as well, given the features it offers.