18 March 2015

Road Test: Audi A6

Audi's new generation A6 is aimed at the discerning executive buyer with its high levels of technology, upgraded infotainment systems, improved equipment levels, lower running costs and its favourable pricing, writes Trish Whelan.

Sharp lines and taut surfaces give the car an elegant but sporty look that will certainly appeal to premium customers. Exterior revisions include changes to the single frame grille, the air inlets, bumpers, side sills, rear lights and the tailpipes.

From launch, buyers have a choice of seven powerful, efficient engines. The two petrol and five diesel units offer power outputs ranging from 150hp to 320hp. Two 'Ultra' 2.0 TDI diesel versions are the TDI 150 and TDI 190 with 109g and 110g C02 respectively. They are capable of consuming 4.2 L/100km (67mpg).

The top of the range 4.0 TFSI petrol offered in the Audi S6 delivers 450hp of power and uses cylinder on demand technology to emit just 214g/km C02. The 3.0 TDI 320hp BiTurbo is mated to an eight-speed tiptronic transmission; all other engine variants get a new six-speed manual or seven-speed S-Tronic dual clutch automatic. S-Tronic can be ordered on all engines for another €2,300.

My review car was the 2.0, 150hp diesel S-Tronic 'Ultra' version. You don't feel the gear changes, it's a very smooth shifter. A pure joy to drive for everyday use, and you travel in a high degree of comfort and luxury. The diesel engine is among the most refined on offer, so quiet even at idle that you won't realise you're driving a diesel car. For me, the steering was beautifully balanced, a bit on the heavy side as I prefer. The driving settings can be selected between Economy and Sport.

The premium interior will satisfy the most discerning customers with leather/suede-like seats/gearknob/and leather steering wheel. You also have two memory settings for the driver's seat so no rows if you have to share the driving.

Stylish dials are encased in two large circles and you can choose to have your current speed displayed in big white digital numbers on the trip computer. This screen also shows how many kilometres are left to empty.

An automatic headlights dipping system was also on the review car. Other features include Start/Stop, satellite navigation, cruise control with speed limiter, dual zone climate control, parking sensors and Bluetooth. The radio/sat nav screen on the dash top folds down when you switch off the engine. Like in other Audis, the MMI control knob on the flat of the central console controls most of the car's functions.

New equipment lines offer more choice than ever to Irish customers. Improved levels of standard specification include Xenon lights, MMI navigation, acoustic glass and an anti-glare interior mirror are now standard in all SE versions and above. The existing SE and S Line versions will be complemented by a new SE Business line for the first time. Upgrades feature electric front seats, fine grain ash wood inlays, 4-zone climate control, MMI Navigation plus which includes picture book navigation and MMI touchpad, and 18-inch 10-spoke alloy wheels. S Line models get full LED headlights which are at levels similar to daylight. Xenon headlamps are now added as standard for Irish A6 SE models. The navigation system, which has its main screen on the dash, repeats the information between the two main dials on the instruments cluster which is a really neat and welcome feature.

Audi claim the new A6 leads the competition in terms of infotainment. Underlining the car's premium claim, a new technology package features MMI Navigation plus, Audi Connect which links the car with the Internet via the 4G or LTE highspeed data transmission standard, Bose surround sound, head up display and reverse camera have been introduced. Everything the professional needs to keep 'connected' while on their travels. Audi's optional Matrix LED Beam, which adapts automatically to the car's surroundings and introduced in the A7, is also available in the new A6. Another feature, the Audi phone box, connects the driver's mobile phone to the car's antenna for better reception.

Boot space is very, very generous and there is a temporary spare below the floor.

The entry level A6 is priced from €43,900 for the 2.0TDI 150hp 'Ultra' SE model; and from €44,800 for the 1.8TFSI, 190hp 'Ultra' SE version, and is available on PCP through Audi Finance from €429 per month.