New A6 driven

* Slight styling changes * New cleaner engines * On sale now from £24,800...

New A6 driven

Audi's designers say they've face-lifted the A6 executive, but it's tough to tell.

They've scribbled a new bumper, some LED rear lights and a piece of chrome strip. Is that it? Someone is taking the Michelangelo.

It's just as well that while the crayoning-in fraternity have been musing on their goatees, engineers have been beavering away on a new range of engines.

All the latest engines comply with the more-stringent Euro V CO2 emissions standards.

That includes an all new 3.0-litre V6 supercharged petrol unit which joins the 2.0 turbo and 2.8-litre petrols.

The supercharged engine has almost as much effortless mid-range grunt as a big capacity eight-cylinder, on top of which it's extremely smooth and matched to the super-slick six-speed automatic gearbox. It delivers a seamless, strong spread of power.

It's relatively clean and capable of 30.0mpg when driven on a light throttle, but get lively with the loud pedal and the 286bhp provides more than enough oomph to test the integrity of the sports seats.

Given the emission and fuel-obsessed culture that dominates the company car market, it comes as no surprise that there's no longer any place for V8 fuel-guzzlers.

Don't worry though, performance nuts can still get their fix thanks to the fast S6 and RS6 5.0-litre V10 versions.

Undoubtedly, though, the bulk of A6 sales will be diesel models, so the good news is that all the engines employ the latest high-pressure common-rail technology.

This has major benefits, especially for the entry 2.0-litre model. It still can't match BMW's entry diesel 5-series for refinement, power and fuel-efficiency, but nonetheless the latest tweaks ensure a smooth, even spread of power, unlike the diesel engines of old.

Undoubtedly, the pick of the range is the 2.7-litre V6 diesel. It's strong, frugal and almost as smooth as a petrol engine.

Spend a few more bob on air suspension and the ride becomes pretty smooth, too. The standard suspension may have been retuned to boost comfort, but it still can't cope with as wide a range of road conditions as the sophisticated air set-up.

Add the reassurance of traction-boosting Quattro four-wheel drive and you're getting close to the ultimate A6.

With this approach, the A6's ride is cushy and the handling is assure and predictable with informative steering, bags of grip and well-controlled body roll.

Unlike some of the latest products, which have lost a little of the famed Audi sheen, luxurious materials, spacious accommodation high-quality switchgear and the latest infotainment mean the A6 retain its luxurious lustre.

Audi A6
Price: from £24,800
On sale Now
You'll like Quality build; immaculate cabin
You won't Not as rounded as a BMW 5 series