– Looks good with body kit
– Cabin trim and features
– Good ride and handling
– Average power from small V6
– No tail-sliding fun
– Complicated multimedia tech
The Audi A6 is the German automaker’s answer to the popular premium mid-size sedans from the two ‘other’ German automakers. And just as the others are done with their facelifts, it was Audi’s turn to refresh the A6 platform, which debuted back in 2012, and keep up with the stiff competition.
Renowned for their penchant towards conservative styling, Audi still maintains those clean design cues in the facelifted A6, albeit in a manner that is handsome and not overdone. Throw in a thug-life S-Line kit, and it will transform into a mean-looking beast. For 2016, the A6 gets a new front fascia with redesigned headlights with LED running lamps, reshaped LED tail lamps, a new selection of alloy wheels and not much else. The optional-but-expensive 20-inch alloys on our tester were especially stunning.
The classy interior remains the same as before, and it never needed a change so soon anyway. The interior materials are of the finest quality that truly exudes a premium vibe. Most interior surfaces are soft-touch, and the textured real wood trim only adds to the luxurious feel. There are leather inserts in all doors, and hard plastics are limited only to a few lower panels. The dash layout is rather neat, except for the TFT screen that looks a tad out of place whenever it is up, sort of more like an aftermarket fit, but it folds in when the car is off. The fit and finish is beyond excellent.
The new A6 comes with all the regular premium interior features, including multiple airbags, a strong premium sound system with speakers all around, mood-lighting, sunroof, leather-clad interior, powered front seats, rear-camera, decent auto a/c with rear vents and so on. While interior ergonomics are largely fine, a quirk that has been plaguing the A6 since two generations is the rotary knob for the MMI infotainment system and the four selection buttons surrounding it, which requires taking your eyes off the road and looking down at those to operate, unless you somehow get used to feeling for it. Nevertheless, the UI looks good, while the space-age graphics and transition animations look cool, although a tad distracting while on the move. The system even supports handwriting-recognition and 4G mobile Internet.
The interior is spacious enough, with good headroom and legroom in the front, and decent headroom and legroom in the back, feeling more airy than the BMW 5-series. The boot is huge too, and with foldable rear seats, the cargo volume is impressive. Except for somewhat jerky throttle response in stop-and-go traffic, the Audi A6 feels largely comfortable. The a/c is strong, and under 100 kph, the cabin remains whisper-quite. But things change drastically as the speed builds up, with the wind and road noise rising exponentially. Most of it may be ignored with Audi’s crisp-sounding audio system though.
For 2015, there’s a range of engine choices, with the “power level” defined by a number on the boot-lid, “35” in our case. A “25” car would be slower, while a “45” car is faster. With the engine choices now ranging from a 1.8-litre turbocharged inline-4 to a 4.0-litre turbocharged V8, we drove a variant that sports an engine apparently specific for the Middle East region, namely a 2.8-litre V6 motor good for 220 hp at 5750 rpm and 280 Nm of torque at 3000 rpm. It features a fuel-saving start-stop feature and is mated to a 7-speed tiptronic gearbox as well as Audi’s trademark Quattro all-wheel-drive platform.
The small V6 has very good low-end torque, allowing it to do the 0-100 kph sprint in 8.7 seconds during the hot weather in May. However, upon hitting motorway speeds, the engine loses steam, requiring a downshift or two for overtaking. Adding to that is the initial reluctance of the gearbox in downshifting when it is most required, and a certain jerkiness in the throttle response that you have to compensate for. It’s still a great casual cruiser though, and there are more powerful engine choices that have way more juice if you want it. With this engine, we managed an easy 12.2 litres/100 km.
Ride and handling is where the new Audi A6 scores. It is not a tail-happy car like the BMW 5-series, and has ridiculously high grip limits. Throw it around a corner at daft speeds, and the all-wheel-drive system ensures the car remains glued to the road, quelling any untoward behaviour and keeping the car well within its line of travel. Go over those limits though, and there is clean understeer. The body roll is minimal, and the ride is generally smooth with no hints of any floatiness, and only a bit of firmness typical of most European cars. The wind and road noise rises exponentially beyond 120 kph, but the car is super-quiet under 100. Braking is good too, with nice and linear stopping power. The steering is light but firms up in sport mode and now offers mild feedback, which is actually an improvement over previous generations.
The all-new 2015 Audi A6 continues to be a strong contender in the premium mid-size segment, giving stiff competition to the aging BMW 5-series and already-aged Mercedes-Benz E-Class. With the dealer offering free service and maintenance contracts, it is an attractive proposition too, but just put in some extra money and get the bigger engines if you’re looking for more straight-line performance, and you’re good to go.
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