Audi has officially released photos of the eighth-generation A6 ahead of its first public display at the Geneva motor show next week. The car boasts a complete reinvention inside and out, with a new look, fresh technology and a bolstering of its sporting appeal.
As made clear by the photos, the new A6 conforms closely to Audi’s design template. Audi’s new-age design trademark – the large hexagon-shaped grille – takes up prominent real estate up front and is flanked by sharply cut headlamps that look like an evolution of the outgoing A6’s. LED headlights and daytime running lights are in keeping with the technology rich look that Audi prides itself for. There are exaggerated air dams lower down on the bumper, but the details could be restricted to a sporty version of the A6 that seems to have been pictured. Styling is neat and the lines are crisp, with a prominent waistline that originates at the doors and extends to the tail-lights, adding some dynamism to the look. A neatly arced roof flows into the sizeable tail section, all in all, giving the new A6 a well-proportioned look. It is typical Audi fare at the rear as well, and you can expect the tail-lamps to be big on tech, in their own right.
The new A6 is 7mm longer at 4,939mm, 12mm wider at 1,886mm, and 2mm taller at 1,457mm than its predecessor. That makes it fractionally longer and wider than the BMW 5-series, but 22mm lower. Wheel size has also increased and ranges from 17 to 21 inches. The largest wheel size available on its predecessor was 20 inches.
The new A6 bears a very close resemblance to the latest A7 on the inside. Audi is positioning its infotainment system as a key selling point for the A6, describing it as a “futuristic operating concept.” There are two central touchscreens, both 8.6-inches as standard, with a 10.1-inch upper screen available as an option. The system, known as MMI, allows vehicle functions, shortcuts and favourite buttons to be dragged and dropped, akin to a smartphone. The top screen controls infotainment and navigation and the lower screen is used for climate control, convenience functions and text input. It has been designed so the driver’s wrist can rest on the gearlever. Designer Philipp Römers said: “We see touch systems as the future. But we are not a big fan of iPads in the interior. That’s why we designed the black panel on A6 in a more driver-oriented position than in A8. So the panel is broken in the middle and angled to the driver.
The new navigation includes a self-learning function based on driven routes, which generates intelligent search suggestions. For example, the system knows your daily route to work and will suggest another way if it knows there has been an accident. The navigation system also uses vehicle-to-vehicle technology with other Audis for traffic and hazard information.
Among 37 driving assistance systems, bundled into three packages “to help avoid customer confusion”, there is the Level-3 autonomous driving system introduced on last year’s A8. Although the technology is available, the A6 faces the same issue as the A8: the legislation is not yet in place to allow the use of Level-3 on a public road unless it is for manufacturer testing.
Inside, Audi claims, there is more head room, shoulder room and rear leg room than before. Although boot space stays the same at 530 litres, the carmaker says the boot has a wider aperture and can accommodate two golf bags horizontally.
The eighth-generation A6 will be available with mild-hybrid engines only – much like the recently launched A7 – and will later offer a plug-in hybrid as ‘bridge technology’ to pure electric. For now, the new executive saloon will be offered with four engine options that include a V6 3.0-litre TFSI petrol and three diesels – a 2.0-litre TDI and a 3.0-litre TDI in two states of tune.
The 3.0 TFSI and 2.0-litre TDI use a 48V electrical system, which has a lithium-ion battery positioned in the rear axle and a starter/generator at the front of the car. This mild-hybrid system switches off the engine and cruises between speeds of 55kph and 160kph. When decelerating, it switches off the engine between 6kph and 22kph.
The two 3.0-litre TDI powertrains instead use a 12V electrical system that does not offer these features. The 12V system allows CO2 to be reduced by 4g/km and the 48V system cuts CO2 by 10g/km. Although the mild-hybrid line-up is currently unusual in the car market, many manufacturers will soon offer the same in order to meet ever-demanding CO2 and air quality targets.
Audi also says a smaller petrol unit, a 2.0-litre TFSI, will arrive at some point in response to the growing demand for petrol, as diesel sales continue to fall.
The new A6, which weighs from 1,575kg, is 5kg-25kg heavier than the old one due to the mild-hybrid systems. “The lithium-ion battery and starter/generator add 25kg,” said the A6 project manager, Renald Lassowski. “We focused on overall consumption rather than reduced weight. We did try to improve other areas, though, such as reducing the weight of brake calipers.” Along with more sporty styling, Audi has also worked on the A6’s suspension to make it “as agile as a sports car, as manoeuvrable as a compact model”. The all-wheel steering’s ratio changes depending on the car’s speed, with the rear wheels able to turn as much as 5 degree by a spindle drive. At high speeds, this is intended to improve stability. At low speeds, the aim is to make the car feel more agile and reduce its turning circle.
There are four suspensions available – standard suspension, sport suspension, optional suspension with adaptive damper control, and fully adaptive air suspension, which is also an option.
The new A6 will come to India in early 2019. We expect Audi to put the spotlight on the petrol-powered variants in line with its new powertrain strategy. The outgoing A6 has been outclassed by newer rivals. But by the look of things, the new one has the goods to take some of the attention away from the Mercedes-Benz E-class and BMW 5-series that are dominating sales in the segment.
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