The Audi A6 in its fifth generation debuted in India a month ago. We got a chance to have a go at the car. Disclaimer: Since we've had the car for a couple of hours, this new Audi A6 review is more on the lines of a quick experience. A more detailed version will follow at a later date. A full-blown comparison with the Mercedes-Benz E-Class as well as the BMW 5 Series is in the offing too.
Audi A6 design and features
The new Audi A6 follows the same design ethos as the recent models from Ingolstadt. The grille is a huge unit and gives the new A6 some character. Audi has given 18-inch alloys but with a demure pattern. I did feel this when I first saw the car at the launch press conference. However, I must admit, it does grow on you. The tail section though is something that looks nearly the same as before. This being said, the lights all around are LED units, with the headlights getting their own washers.
Audi A6 cabin
The Audi A6 cabin has got a thorough revamp from the older model. The first thing that catches your attention is the digital graphic meter console. It can be configured in two different ways with the speedo/rev counter gaining prominence or the navigation taking precedence. The touchscreen (finally) infotainment system is a breeze to use. However, it has its own set of quirks. When connected to Apple CarPlay, an incoming phone call will disconnect the navigation. One has to then resort to opening the map menu again on the phone. I am pretty sure this could be a one-off or can be resolved with a software update. Audi has provided multiple connectivity options and these include twin USB ports under the arm rest and two at the back as well. Speaking of which, the driver as well as front passenger seats are powered but only the driver gets a memory function.
There is four-zone (one for each seat) climate control, blinds for the rear windscreen (automated) as well as the windows (manual). The front seats are quite supportive and have a huge travel to accommodate six foot plus occupants. Despite this, the rear bench too has enough leg room to seat a tall person. There is no dearth of head room as well and the underthigh support is decent too. Audi has ensured that the rear seat passengers are properly pampered and for that there are air vents even on the B-pillar (apart from the ones in the middle) and infotainment controls.
Engine and transmission
Audi now retails the new A6 with a lone turbo petrol engine in India. This BS-VI compliant motor is a 2.0-litre turbocharged unit and produces 245hp/370Nm. Audi claims a fuel efficiency of 14.1kmpl from this motor and the 7-speed dual clutch automatic combo. While I couldn't test the efficiency, the MID did show around 8.1kmpl in hard and varied driving conditions. The engine refinement is commendable and the integrated start-stop button ensures that the engine shut down or restarting process is as silent as possible. It took me sometime to figure out how to turn it off as the button is located on the air-conditioning part of the touchscreen panel, mostly hidden from sight. Put the A6's transmission into Dynamic mode (selectable from the Drive Select button and gearbox into sport mode. This is where the motor truly shines. It lets go of its calm demeanor and lunges for the horizon. Since this is a dual clutch, the up as well as downshifts are executed in a quick fashion. I saw unmentionable speeds rather quickly. The 80kmph speed alert warning stays on for a few seconds. The 120kmph warning though stays put but can be easily drowned by the brilliant Bang and Olufsen sound system.
A noticeable thing is that the engine rev limiter is very eager to meet its maker. While no Audi A6 owners will drive the car the way I did, it is pretty clear that when given the roads, the A6 petrol is a devastatingly fast car.
Ride and handling
The more I drive the car, realisation dawns in that the new A6 has inched close. Very close, to the BMW 5 Series. The car is quick to change directions and the air suspension, while being noisy, absorbs all the bumps. I found the steering to be utterly lifeless at low speeds but gains a bit of weight at slightly higher speeds. Refinement is of a high order and it is only after 5,000rpm that you hear the motor (with a slightly raspy note).
The new Audi A6 is one well rounded car. It will actually surprise you. While there might not be much room at the back when compared with an E-Class LWB, the A6 isn't cramped by any stretch. The driveability as well as the power on offer too is more than sufficient. It also helps that the new Audi A6 45 TFSI is one of the most affordable cars in its segment. Prices start from Rs 54.2 lakh and stop at the Rs 59.2 lakh, ex-showroom version we drove. Audi has made it clear that it'll be bullish on petrol as well as hybrids in the near future and from that perspective the 2020 Audi A6 then is the right step in that direction!
Images by Ayush Arya