The most basic engine is a 2.0-litre diesel, but even that gives a decent turn of pace. As you step up the engine range, you’re struck not just by the stronger performance, but also by how effortless that performance becomes. The flagship 3.0-litre bi-turbo TDI barely needs revving to keep up with traffic – but when you do, it’s astonishingly quick. The one petrol engine is also a 3.0-litre, but it needs working harder than the diesels.
The A6 is lighter than most rivals and this helps it to feel reasonably nimble for such a big car. The standard suspension gives a decent balance of comfort and control, so we’d question the need for the optional air suspension system. The steering is light and undemanding, but not especially communicative. Four-wheel-drive versions provide particularly good traction.
The 2.0-litre diesel engine isn’t as easy on the ear as the six-cylinder alternatives, but it’s quiet when cruising and the A6 is a hushed car on the whole. There’s a bit of wind- and road noise, but most other noise sources are muted at speed. A small amount of suspension thud is noticeable over sharp bumps.
Audi expects a whopping 75% of A6s to be sold as 2.0 TDIs. With CO2 emissions of just 129 g/km and an average of 57.6mpg, it’s not hard to see why. Every version is impressively clean and frugal compared with its rivals, and generous standard kit means that the A6 is good value for money. Resale values should be reasonably good and we’d expect discounts on the list price will be available in due course.
The A6 more than lives up to Audi’s reputation for excellent cabin quality. The materials, build quality and attention to detail are faultless throughout and the overall ambience isn’t far off that of Audi’s pricier A8 luxury saloon. The A6 didn’t score particularly highly for reliability in our latest JD Power survey, but it didn't disgrace itself, either.
As you’d expect, the A6 is brimming with the latest safety kit, including six airbags and a stability control system. The result was a maximum five-star rating when Euro NCAP crash-tested the car. Optional extras include rear side airbags and a system that steers you back on course if you start to wander from your lane on the motorway.
The A6 has supportive seats and there’s plenty of adjustment for the driver's seat and steering wheel. The upper dashboard is refreshingly clutter-free, too, but there are a lot of similar-looking switches clustered around the MMI controller behind the gearlever. This tends to divert your eyes from the road all too often.
It’s unlikely that A6 buyers will wish their car had more space. There’s vast head- and legroom for those in the front and rear seats and the cabin has an airy feel overall. A boot capacity of 530 litres is slightly more than a BMW 5 Series can offer and there are split/folding rear seatbacks as standard.
Every A6 comes loaded with kit. SE trim includes satellite-navigation, leather upholstery, dual-zone climate control, automatic headlights and wipers, and front and rear parking sensors. There’s a hefty premium for S line trim, which adds extras such as lowered, stiffened suspension, larger alloys, sports seats, bespoke front and rear bumpers, xenon headlights and LED rear lights. Options include massaging front seats, TV reception, a head-up display and all-LED headlights.
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This will be one of the most popular A6 models and, with incredibly low CO2 emissions, top-notch interior quality and loads of kit, it’s not hard to see why.