The new A6, in its seventh generation model has been designed to present the biggest challenge to the E-class and 5-series. We review the top of the line diesel 3.0 TDI V6 variant of the executive sedan to ascertain how much it has succeeded in its endeavor.
The A6 takes Audi’s illustrious design heritage forward in its seventh iteration with great panache. The understated self-assuredness that the new A6 carries is a character that some luxury car makers would go into a thermonuclear war for. It’s like the metallic equivalent of a 6’3” tall muscular athlete, dressed in a tux who talks in the softest and the most gentlemanly tone. But look into his eyes and all you’d witness is malevolence. Misbehave, and you’ll be in trouble. Grand, yet wicked; graceful, yet sinister! You’ll have to witness an A6 with those LED lamps flashing in your RVM to know what I am talking about. It needs courage to not give way.
The A6, in its newest avatar draws from the A8. One look at those menacing eyes and the relation is evident. The instantly recognizable Audi Goatee is the most prominent characteristic of the A6’s intimidating face. The big radiator grille is flanked by two aggressively finned faux intakes on the lower end, and by a pair of sharp, angular and extremely distinctive headlamps on the upper end. The bonnet has two creases to add tension and tone to all that mass. The LED lamps that our test model came outfitted with is an absolute must if turning every head towards you is what you want to do with your car. The A6’s face, even with all its daunting traits, somehow manages to pull off the unfeasible by staying this side of the boundary between sophistication and kitsch.
In profile, the high shoulder line, the big wheels and the low roofline makes the A6 look like a substantial piece of machinery, lending it tremendous presence. The creases on the flanks add athleticism and let you know that even with its massive body the A6 is in shape and ready for action.
At the rear, two horizontally laid out tail-lamps are illuminated by LEDs and sit right below the spoiler which is integrated as a design element in the tip of the A6’s big boot. There is a crevice below the boot surface joining the two lamps. The posterior of the A6 is one of the simplest portions of the car, and yet it manages to make you look at it over and again. Death to those who say keeping it simple is simple!
Engine and transmission
The A6 is a feature and gizmo-laden car. It looks great, and has a hundred things which amaze you. But even with all that much to boast about, the 3.0 liter TDI diesel unit of the car is its absolute highlight. Delivering peak power rated at a massive 245bhp between 4000-4500 rpm, and a prodigious peak torque figure of 500Nm spread between a band that begins from a low 1400 rpm and goes all the way up to 3250 rpm, this engine is a rare gem. That 500 Nm of train-like torque makes sure that the A6 is always willing to pierce through the horizon as soon as you dab the right pedal, irrespective of the gear, or the rev-range you’re in. Beyond 1500 rpm, you feel the power being laid down to the tar in one of the most genteel manners ever witnessed. You feel the surge, but not with even an ounce of uncouthness. No shoving your head back into the seat – the A6 lays down all those horses and twisting forces onto the bitumen in a sublime fashion. Beyond 2000 rpm, no gap in small enough.
And it’s not just the power delivery; it’s also the aural refinement of the mill that had us smitten. This 3.0 liter V6 is the most silent oil burning power plant that we have come across thus far. Even with the bonnet open and us listening carefully with our trained ears, we couldn’t hear any diesel clatter. The engine whirrs as if it were small petrol unit. The common rail engine has piezo injectors operating at a max pressure of 1800 bar, direct injection, eight hole nozzles, a VGT turbo with intercooler, swirl and tangential intake ports and central swirl flap to make it the incredible unit it is.
The power and torque oozed out by the potent TDI unit is laid down onto the road via the trusty old Quattro permanent all wheel drive with a 60:40 rear bias. The drive system features a self-locking crown gar center differential which is capable of sending upto 85 percent of driving force to the rear axle, and upto 70 percent of it to the front axle on sensing loss of traction in the other axle. This happens with almost zero time-lag and helps the car deliver optimum grip to all four feels without any intervention of electronic aids such as ESP (which, of course, are also available).
The engine is mated with a dual clutch, 7-speed S-tronic transmission with electro-hydraulic control. This dual clutch known as the DSG (in VW speak) in its initial form has been a pioneer of sorts, and takes an advanced shape in the A6. Needless to say, shifts are lightning-quick with no perceptible lag. You can let the beautiful auto transmission to do all the work by its own, or choose to shift via the lever on the center console, or the flappy pedals behind the steering wheel.
Ride and handling
Audi A6 is the only car among its peers to offer a magical air-suspension which allows you to raise ride height to clear the most daunting craters without scraping the car’s premium belly. The ludicrously quiet cabin is complimented by an equally absorbent ride quality. In comfort mode, with the air suspension adding that extra bit of cushioning the A6 simply wafts over even the more vicious edges. The good part about the air suspension is that it lets the massive machine glide over undulations without making it feel too quishy-quashy.
Audi drive select allows you to choose your suspension damping, steering input and throttle response based on your preferred driving style. There are four modes: Comfort, Dynamic, Auto and Individual. The Comfort mode adjusts the set up for a more relaxed and comfortable drive. The Dynamic mode is for a sportier driving experience, adding some more weight to the steering and sharpening the throttle response. The Auto mode reads your driving style and adapts automatically as per its algorithm. Finally, Individual mode allows you to configure the dynamics of the car to your own preferences.
The A6 treads its path with authority. From behind the steering wheel, the A6 feels absolutely substantial, and over engineered to take care of all of those 500 Newton meters of twisting force. In a straight line, speeds upto 220km/h feel absolutely safe, after which a wee bit of nervousness begins creeping in. Changing lanes can be done with confidence, even at speeds nudging a double ton.
But that’s about straight line. Substantial, and confident, as the A6 is on the highway, the steering isn’t exactly a very communicative unit. Various driving modes allow various degrees of steering sharpness, with Comfort mode letting it be on the lighter side, dynamic infusing some artificial heaviness, but to be honest, it never feels natural. The Audi A6 somewhat lacks the tactile feel that suckers for adrenaline rush like us crave for. There is a bit of disconnect from the road, along with a wee bit of understeer around the sharper bends. While the A6 would never lose its line once pointed in the direction of attack, thanks to the Quattro working diligently towards distributing driving force around all corners, it isn’t involving enough around a set of bends.
The A6 then, has a slight bias towards ride comfort then having a laser beam pointed at handling. And that’s with good reason too. After all, most buyers in this category prefer being driven than taking to the wheel themselves.
Cabin comfort and space
The cabin of the A6 is one gizmo-laden space. No other car in its category lets you have so many toys to play with. And it’s not just about the toys, the seriousness with which the Ingolstadt firm has put together the cabin of this saloon reflects in the quality of materials, the layout and the ergonomics. The MMI screen does a quick trick of flipping out from the dash to impress you as soon as you push the start button.
Then you have a big, fat floating panel between the front driver and passenger seats which is riddled with buttons. You can literally spend a good couple of hours exploring and mastering the innumerable functions available. Unique to the layout is the touch pad, which is a quick window for you to get a job done super fast, choose a radio station for instance. Tap the number 3, and you’ll be shifted you third favorite station. Based on which application you are using, the Optional, bigger touch pad can read finger swipes and English letters to help you find nos. or feed an entry in your contact list.
As mentioned, the MMI screen is generously laden with functions and features which control every aspect of the car. You can get loads and loads of data from this system about your car. With a pixel rich screen which is classily incorporated, the system helps massively to make the A6’s cabin the most opulent in its class.
The dashboard is asymmetrically laid out with a bias towards the driver, and yes, it looks great. The materials chosen and the way they have been put together exude class and quality. Luxury abounds in the front two seats. Our only grouse is that the seat width, thanks to the wide floating panel in the middle is slightly compromised and may turn out to be an issue for the obese.
With four zone climate control, both the back benchers get to have their own individual settings for the A/C. We say ‘both’ as the rear A/C vents protrude too much into the back area. Along with the wide transmission tunnel it becomes extremely difficult to accommodate a third occupant on the A6’s back seat. There is more than enough leg and knee room for two occupants though, and thanks to the composed ride, and quiet cabin, the A6’s back seat makes for one of the most tranquil spaces on wheels.
The A6 is just too tech heavy for every feature to be explained here. Only the MMI needs a reasonably good amount of time to cycle through all the features. Here’s a little list of the most important features on the A6 3.0 TDI Quattro though
• Standard MMI radio plus with 6.5 inch display
• Audi pre-sense (airbags sense driver height and deploy accordingly)
• Cruise Control
• 17” alloys
• Electric folding external mirrors with memory function
• Xenon plus headlamps with daytime running lights
• Rear LED lamps
• Light and rain sensors
• Air suspension
• Remote boot release
• Mutifunction steering wheel with shifter paddles
• Auto day/night RVM
• Electric sunblinds for rear windscreen and manual blinds for side windows
• Leather upholstery with walnut brown inlays
• Audi Parking System Plus
• Electric Sunroof
• Electric front seats with memory function for driver side
• Four zone AC
• 6 CD changer
• Audi Music interface
• 20GB on board media storage
Apart from the standard equipment, there is a list of options too
• MMI touch with 8 inch display
• Bose Sound system
• Comfort Key
• Rear Seat entertainment preparation
• 6 DVD changer
• Audio Parking system with rear view camera
• LED headlights (an absolute must-have)
Audi has most definitely raised the bar with the A6. Talk exteriors, talk interiors, talk engine, talk transmission or talk about the sheer toys – the A6 nails most of it. Driving pleasure for an out-an-out enthusiast may be one area where the A6 may not absolutely thrill, but it is a more than capable machine for even a discerning car nut. In terms of the sheer quality, aesthetics, features and technological prowess – the A6 has to be our choice for the segment. It is slightly pricier than the rest; but have a closer look and you’d know that the higher price tag comes with good reason. A total charmer by all means!
Price as tested
Rs 50 lakh ex-showroom (approx)
- Design, street presence
- Features and technology
- Engine, transmission
- Ride quality
- Steering not very communicative
Words: Amit Chhangani
Images: Amit Chhangani & Hrishikesh Deshpande