Audi A6 review

Category: Luxury car

Impressive luxury car is quiet, comfortable and spacious, but not quite as thrilling to drive as the class best

Audi A6 2022 front right tracking
  • Audi A6 2022 front right tracking
  • Audi A6 2022 rear cornering
  • Audi A6 2022 interior dashboard
  • Audi A6 2022 interior rear seats
  • Audi A6 2022 interior infotainment
  • Audi A6 2022 right tracking
  • Audi A6 2022 front cornering
  • Audi A6 2022 rear right tracking
  • Audi A6 2022 front left static
  • Audi A6 2022 left static
  • Audi A6 2022 alloy wheel detail
  • Audi A6 2022 headlights detail
  • Audi A6 2022 rear lights detail
  • Audi A6 2022 interior front seats
  • Audi A6 2022 interior detail
  • Audi A6 2022 interior detail
  • Audi A6 2022 interior detail
  • Audi A6 2022 boot open
  • Audi A6 2022 front right tracking
  • Audi A6 2022 rear cornering
  • Audi A6 2022 interior dashboard
  • Audi A6 2022 interior rear seats
  • Audi A6 2022 interior infotainment
  • Audi A6 2022 right tracking
  • Audi A6 2022 front cornering
  • Audi A6 2022 rear right tracking
  • Audi A6 2022 front left static
  • Audi A6 2022 left static
  • Audi A6 2022 alloy wheel detail
  • Audi A6 2022 headlights detail
  • Audi A6 2022 rear lights detail
  • Audi A6 2022 interior front seats
  • Audi A6 2022 interior detail
  • Audi A6 2022 interior detail
  • Audi A6 2022 interior detail
  • Audi A6 2022 boot open
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Introduction

What Car? says...

In an increasingly homogenised world, the biggest difference between rival products is often how they're marketed – but that's not the case for the Audi A6 and the other luxury cars it competes with.

The A6 sits at the more affordable end of a class full of genuinely accomplished models that are all quite different, and all have their own unique selling points. In other words, if Audi is going to convince you to buy one, it's got to be pretty special.

Fortunately, the German car maker has handed the A6 plenty of ammunition to take on its competitors. For a start, it has several features found on its bigger and more expensive sibling, the five-star What Car? rated Audi A8.

For example, some version of the Audi A6 have the same 12-volt mild-hybrid technology to reduce fuel consumption and emissions. That works by switching off the engine and letting the car free-wheel when you lift off the accelerator between 34mph and 99mph. 

Two of the engine choices come with that system: a 201bhp diesel and a 261bhp petrol. On top of those, there’s also a 201bhp petrol engine without hybrid tech, plus a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) that can drive on electricity alone and cuts CO2 emissions dramatically.

So, what are those tough-to-beat rivals we mentioned earlier? Well, for a start, there's the 2022 What Car? Luxury Car of the Year, the BMW 5 Series – and that's a genuinely compelling all-rounder. The Jaguar XF is the driver’s car, the Mercedes E-Class is a comfortable cruiser and the Volvo S90 qualifies as the respectable alternative choice.

Over the next few pages of this review, we'll tell you all about Audi A6's strengths and weaknesses, and reveal which of the engines and trims we think are best. We'll also let you know how we rate its performance, handling, practicality and more.

If you decide at the end that it's the car for you, or you plan to buy a vehicle of any other make and model, don't forget to visit the free What Car? New Car Deals pages to see how much you could save off the list price and check out the new luxury car deals.

Overview

The A6 is quiet, spacious and an impressive luxury car all round, and will also cost you far less than most rivals. Granted, it’s not the most enjoyable car in the class to drive, but it’s up there with the most comfortable, which is arguably more important.

  • Very quiet engines
  • Spacious interior
  • Excellent build quality
  • You can’t add many options
  • Hesitant automatic gearboxes
  • Infotainment difficult to use on the move
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox

The 2.0-litre diesel Audi A6 (the 40 TDI) is a tad slow off the mark, but only because its standard seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox hesitates when you put your foot down. Even so, once you’re rolling and the gearbox has woken up, the A6 is plenty brisk enough and will outperform its rivals from 30-70mph. Its 7.4sec 0-62mph sprint time is about the same as the BMW 5 Series 520d and the Mercedes E-Class 220d.

Audi A6 image
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If petrol is your chosen fuel, the 2.0-litre 40 TFSI goes without the 12V system but still feels similar to the 40 TDI, despite having less low-down torque. Meanwhile, the petrol 45 TFSI gains 60bhp over the 40 TFSI and, as such, feels much quicker, covering the same sprint in 6.0sec. It still suffers from the same gearbox hesitation, but pulls much harder once it gets going. 

The 50 TFSIe plug-in hybrid (PHEV) responds the most enthusiastically when you ask for a burst of acceleration because of the plentiful electrical assistance. Even when you're running in fully electric mode (with a range of up to 34 miles, according to official figures), its petrol engine springs into life quite quickly to help out, and the 0-62mph time of 6.2sec is plenty fast enough. If that’s still not enough pace for you, take a look at the performance-focused Audi S6.

Suspension and ride comfort

There are three suspension options on offer, depending on which trim you go for. At one end, the entry-level Sport trim uses conventional steel springs and dampers, regardless of which engine you go for. S Line models get the same set-up but stiffened and lowered by 20mm to improve handling, while top-spec Vorsprung models get adaptive suspension with coil springs and switchable dampers that can be softened or stiffened to suit your mood.

Both non-adaptive set-ups deliver a supple ride over large bumps, but even the softer non-S line springs tend to thump over sharper-edged potholes. That's not particularly irksome in itself, but the suspension springs back up after a bump, which quickly becomes tiring. 

The adaptive suspension with coil springs is the best fit for the A6. They’re still on the firm side, but deliver a far more sophisticated balance between control and compliance, and deal with broken asphalt effectively while controlling body movements over dips and crests extremely well.

Audi A6 2022 rear cornering

Handling

The A6 feels lighter and more agile than its size might suggest and, as a result, nimbler than most of its rivals – the 5 Series and E-Class included. Not the XF though, which is still the driver's pick of the class.

What the A6 lacks in comparison with the XF's delicious real-wheel drive balance is made up for by buckets of grip and a benign chassis that lets you drive it hard with utter confidence in how it's going to react. Take the steering, for example. It doesn't offer the same precision as the XF's, but it responds smoothly and the weight is predictable. Body roll, meanwhile, is kept under control through corners and during quick changes of direction.

Vorsprung trim gets four-wheel steering on all but 40 TDI versions, and that tightens the turning circle in town and increases stability at higher speeds. It's effective, but works out very expensive as it’s only available with the top-spec trim. Overall, you'll find the A6 an easy and relaxing car to handle on a long drive over varied roads.

Noise and vibration

All the A6’s engines provide a generally hushed driving experience – exactly what you’d hope for in a luxury car. In fact, for a four-cylinder diesel the 40 TDI is one of the best in the business, proving quieter than the BMW 520d and Mercedes E220d, especially around town or when getting up to motorway speeds. Naturally, the PHEV is even better, although you hear a bit of motor whine in electric mode. 

You might notice a few engine vibrations through the pedals and steering wheel of the diesels, but the A6 keeps road and wind noise to a minimum. The suspension noise is more noticeable than in immediate rivals, though, at least in cars fitted with standard springs and dampers.

The automatic gearbox can be slightly jerky when parking or in stop-start traffic. By contrast, the PHEV generally shifts smoothly, negating any hesitation at pull-off with electric power and switching between the petrol engine and electric system almost imperceptibly.

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

Driving position and dashboard

The Audi A6’s pedals are slightly offset to the right – like those in the BMW 5 Series – but it’s still easy to get comfortable thanks to generous reach and rake steering wheel adjustment and seats which offer plenty of adjustment, including lumbar support on all trims. Upgrade to S Line and the driver’s seat becomes electronically adjustable, making it really easy to tweak your driving position. 

As standard, you get Audi’s Virtual Cockpit consisting of digital dials on a 12.3in screen. It's excellent, and there are lots of options for configuring the content and layout to show a wealth of useful information just below your sightline.

Climate control and convenience features are taken care of by an 8.6in touchscreen below the main infotainment screen. While it provides haptic feedback to confirm when you’ve touched an icon, we’re not sure what it achieves other than looking good. In fact, it’s actually a bit of a pain, doing away with physical buttons that you can navigate by memory and feel, and forcing you to take your eyes off the road to make adjustments. It feels like a backwards step.

Visibility, parking sensors and cameras

You won’t struggle to see out of the A6. Its front pillars are narrower than many of its rivals' and the generous rear side windows really open up your over-the-shoulder vision. The 5 Series is pretty good in that respect too, but the Mercedes E-Class has thicker rear pillars that spoil your view a bit.

To make matters even easier, all A6s come with front and rear parking sensors, as well as a rear-view parking camera. You also get LED headlights as standard, with S Line trim and above upgrading them to matrix headlights that allow the main beams to remain on without dazzling oncoming cars.

If you opt for the Comfort and Sound pack, you’ll get a 360-degree camera system to make parking even easier (it’s standard with Vorsprung trim). 

Audi A6 2022 interior dashboard

Sat nav and infotainment

Audi’s latest generation of infotainment system swaps a rotary controller (like BMW’s iDrive) for a touchscreen with haptic feedback. Unfortunately, the touchscreen diverts attention from the road more than using a physical wheel to scroll through menus, and the menus themselves are less intuitive than in the 5 Series.

On the plus side, the standard 10.1in touchscreen has sharp graphics and is responsive to commands, although we wish it was a little higher up the dashboard. Standard functionality includes sat-nav with live traffic information, a 10GB flash memory for music storage, wireless smartphone charging, 3D mapping and Google Earth, along with natural voice recognition software.

We were impressed by the standard 10-speaker hi-fi, which sounds clear and punchy. For music lovers, there’s also a Bang & Olufsen premium sound system with 730 watts and 16 speakers that’s bundled in the Comfort and Sound pack or standard in Vorsprung cars.

Quality

The A6 has a cleanly designed interior with a tremendously high level of build quality. The materials used look expensive, with lots of real aluminium trim highlights, which you can swap for fine-grain ash wood at extra cost if it’s more to your taste. 

At night, ambient lighting adds to the car's crisp, modern look, and you can also have the entire interior swaddled in leather if your budget stretches to it.

Our only slight criticism, which is perhaps quite subjective, is that the interior is a little short on character next to what some would argue is the more indulgent interior of the E-Class.

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

Front space

Although the Audi A6 has slightly less front leg room than the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class, that's a bit like saying that one species of elephant is smaller than another – the point is that they're all big beasts. Besides, when it comes to head room, the A6 is one of the biggest beasts out there.

You'll find it has plenty of width for your elbows, although tall drivers who slide the seat right back will run out of armrest on the door as it’s not quite long enough.

There are some storage compartments dotted around, but compared with the 5 Series and E-Class, the A6 lacks the additional convenience of a large cubby under the centre armrest or a tray to dump odds and ends in the centre console.

Rear space

As this luxury cars class encompasses some really palatial vehicles – including the long-wheelbase Mercedes S-Class and the Rolls-Royce Phantom – the A6 was never going to out-lavish its costlier counterparts. Compared with its immediate price peers, though, it's rather spacious in the back.

There’s more rear head and leg room than in the E-Class, and there's even a centimetre or two of added leg room over the 5 Series, which itself is pretty big.

Accommodation for three adults side by side is more generous than in its chief rivals, but before you get too excited, the middle passenger still has to straddle a tall hump in the floor that restricts foot space.

Audi A6 2022 interior rear seats

Seat folding and flexibility

There’s nothing of great consequence to report here – you don't get anything fancy like the multi-adjustable electric rear seats that are available in bigger Audi A8. You do get versatile 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats as standard, though – and that's a feature you have to pay extra for in the 5 Series.

It's a shame you don't get levers inside the boot opening to drop the rear seats because they would make the job more convenient. Instead, you have to walk round the car and open its rear doors to pop the levers at the top of its rear seatbacks.

Boot space

The A6 gets top marks here, with a 530-litre boot that in our test managed to take nine carry-on suitcases. That's one more than the 5 Series can manage, and the E-Class only matches it if you include its underfloor storage.

Note, though, that the plug-in hybrid A6's boot loses some storage space to the battery, leaving 360 litres of capacity.

When you fold down the A6's rear seats, they lie almost flat and leave no step between the boot and passenger compartment, which makes loading heavy items relatively easy.

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2

While the Audi A6 isn't the cheapest luxury car – with the entry-level Jaguar XF costing less – it will cost a fair chunk less as a cash purchase than the BMW 5 Series or Mercedes E-Class and has similarly strong residuals. As a result, contract hire and PCP finance rates are also competitive, and although it's comparatively expensive to insure the A6, servicing is relatively inexpensive.

The 55 TFSIe plug-in hybrid (PHEV) has a slightly longer electric range than its 5 Series equivalent (the 530e), and matches the E300e. Low CO2 emissions make it an appealing company car choice. Bear in mind that, as with all PHEVs, fuel economy will vary dramatically depending on how frequently you charge up the battery.

When we tested the 40 TDI diesel, we managed an average of 46.8mpg, which is more than the rival 520d or E220d could manage.

Equipment, options and extras

Standard equipment is pretty generous on any A6. As well as sat-nav and LED headlights, the entry-level Sport also has 18in alloy wheels, leather upholstery, dual-zone climate control, ambient LED interior lighting and keyless go.

We'd stick with Sport instead of upgrading to S line or Black Edition, partly because their bigger 19in wheels and firmer sports suspension don't help the ride quality, and also because other than adaptive LED headlights, most of their additions are purely styling add-ons.

Top-spec Vorsprung trim is hard to recommend because of the huge jump in price that comes with it. Granted, you do get the adaptive suspension, but a lot of the other toys, such as the 360-degree camera, upgraded stereo and keyless entry, can all be added through the Comfort and Sound pack, which we would recommend.

Reliability

When it comes to reliability, the A6 didn’t fare well in the luxury car category of the 2022 What Car? Reliability Survey, sitting at the very bottom of the pile. 

Audi as a brand did slightly better but still only managed to claim 21st place out of the 32 car makers included. That puts it below BMW and Volvo in the rankings but above Mercedes and Jaguar. 

The A6 comes with a three-year or 60,000-mile warranty (whichever you reach first), and you can extend that for up to five years or 90,000 miles for a reasonable additional cost.

Audi A6 2022 interior infotainment

Safety and security

The A6 gets a five-star rating from the safety experts at Euro NCAP. That matches its main rivals – the 5 Series and E-Class – but both those cars were tested in the years before the A6, when testing was less stringent, so it’s impossible to directly compare. 

Standard safety equipment includes automatic emergency braking (AEB) and lane-keeping assistance, while other features, including blind-spot monitoring, can be added as an option.

Security expert Thatcham Research has given the A6 a good rating for resisting break-ins and theft, helped by its standard alarm and immobiliser.

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FAQs

  • Not especially. The latest A6 came last in the luxury cars category of our 2022 What Car? Reliability Survey while Audi came 21st out of 32 car makers listed. Read more here

  • You can’t buy the A6 as a fully electric car but it is available with hybrid and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) engines. Read more here

  • We recommend the A6 40 TDI in Sport trim. The 2.0-litre diesel engine is more efficient than equivalent rival cars from BMW and Mercedes, and the entry-level Sport includes plenty of kit for a reasonable price. Read more here

  • The A6 S line has a lower, stiffer and less comfortable suspension set-up than the A6 in Sport trim. It also comes with bigger wheels (19in rather than 18in), a sportier bodykit and matrix LED adaptive headlights instead of standard LEDs. Read more here

  • The standard 10.1in touchscreen in the A6 is responsive with sharp graphics and haptic feedback. Unfortunately, you no longer get a rotary dial controller – as you did in the previous-generation Audi A6 (2011-18) – so it’s more distracting to use while you’re driving than systems with more physical controls. Read more here

  • All versions of the A6 except the plug-in hybrid 50 TFSIe have 530 litres of boot space, which was big enough for the What Car? road testers to fit in nine carry-on suitcases. The 50 TFSIe has a smaller, 360-litre boot because of the battery under its floor. Read more here

At a glance
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RRP price range £45,840 - £86,730
Number of trims (see all)5
Number of engines (see all)5
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)diesel, petrol, petrol parallel phev
MPG range across all versions 201.8 - 50.4
Available doors options 4
Warranty 3 years / 60000 miles
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £823 / £6,333
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £1,645 / £12,666
Available colours