An all-new A6 garners a lot of attention. It sits between the Merc E-Class and the BMW 5-er as the perfect fence providing luxury and tech in equal measure. Can it sway loyalists away from their faves?
Synonymous with tech, Audi has always enjoyed basking in cool gadgetry to differentiate themselves from their other German rivals. Until the A8L arrives sometime in the next quarter, this all-new A6 is happy to serve as the appetiser of things to come from Audi. For most parts, it looks similar to the outgoing model, but look closer and you notice sharper angles all over the front, all-LED lights, bulges over the shoulders like a beefed up long distance runner and a much smarter tail end that is beautifully integrated into the stubby boot. It’s a handsome car that will age gracefully and, even when it does, will never split opinions in a way bangled BMWs or quad-eyed Mercs did.
Performance – Relaxed and refined
For the time being, Audi is steering clear of diesel engines, so this A6 comes only in one guise – the 45 TFSI, and before you jump to conclusions about engine capacity, let us clear the air. This ain’t no 4.5 litre hot-rod! In Audispeak, this nomenclature refers to a 2.0 litre petrol motor that is good for 245bhp and 370Nm. Healthy numbers, but the back-seat customers demand a lot more from their luxe-sedans. While the A6 has grown in every dimension, this is the regular wheelbase version sold in India. There are no plans to launch the long-wheelbase variant, so while it’s not exactly tight on space at the back, it’s not as roomy as the Mercedes E-Class LWB.
The A6 has gone front-wheel drive only with this variant and while it may not perform a ballet on ice, it does return better fuel economy figures and is what most people actually use. There is a hint of torque steer under hard initial acceleration, though, and steering has the usual Audi lightness, and sometimes… vagueness. But this is a car meant to be driven in a relaxed fashion, and it is hugely rewarding when you do. It glides over imperfections with authority and high-speed stability is amongst the best. Gone is the air suspension of the earlier A6, replaced by regular steel springs, but the set-up is so well calibrated that you won’t miss the suppleness of the active dampers. Ride is beautifully cushy without too much bodyroll. It’ll be easier to service too…
Cabin tech – Vorsprung durch dashboard
Partner that with a cabin that is other-worldly and you have a luxury sedan that is sophisticated enough for 2019, if not brawny like 1985. All functions are handled by two touchscreens with perfectly weighted haptic feedback, reducing button count to a minimum. The larger 10in screen handles media/vehicle settings while the slightly smaller bottom screen handles the 4-zone climate control and some safety features like parking assist, lane-keeping assist, auto start/stop, rear screen blind and such. Parking assist is as effective as most others, which is to say, it's a hit or miss depending on the kind of slot available. Lane-keeping assist works well most of the times when it sees clear markings on the road and nudges the car back into the centre if you involuntarily start veering off course.
The instruments cluster gets the tried and tested Audi Virtual Cockpit, which is another 12in screen that makes for some great views. Watching maps on a 12in virtual cockpit is virtually unbeatable. You can cycle the view from full-screen maps to full-screen rev and speedo dials, and anything in between. Still one of the best driver displays around and adds to the high-tech nature of the car.
The driving position and ergonomics are spot on, helped by driver-seat memory, which can store up to two different drivers' settings. Ambient lighting has been taken to another level with a total of 30 different colours that can be chosen for surfaces and contours, separately. So you mix and match like a light DJ and control the moods. 4 USB ports, wireless charging and CarPlay on board but no wireless CarPlay. With 16 speakers, 15 amplifiers and 705 watts of power, the A6 is lathered in sound. One of the best-sounding Bang & Olufsen systems of any car, it also offers 3D surround and is spacious, detailed and just plain fun!
Although a lot of critics complain about the lack of feel and feedback in Audi’s steering, the A6 being no different, truth is most real-world buyers don’t mind that and actually love the ease of drive. And that’s exactly what the A6 is. A refined, quiet, luxury cruiser that is peppered with tech and a cabin that is the epitome of German avant garde.