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Rating 9 9

A6 3.0 TDI

3rd Aug 2011 7:00 am

There is no doubt that Audi has taken the game considerably forward with the new A6


  • Make : Audi
  • Model : A6

Audi seems to be on top of its game as far as design is concerned. Both the A4 and A8L are superbly balanced and a treat to look at, and now this new A6 takes the game even further. Yes, it is a bit generic and Audi design cues are all over the car but as far as proportions, forms, detailing and even bright work go, Audi’s designers don’t seem to have put a pencil wrong. The sweeping roof and rear quarter-glass carry over the previous A6’s look and the beltline reminds you of the earlier car too.
So this is both an Audi and an A6, no question but it’s still very fresh and new. Those fabulous LED headlamps, the tightly cropped grille and the faux large inlets give it a unique identity. The rear of the car however is very A8, especially the elongated tail-lights and the manner in which the spoiler on the boot sweeps over.

Dimensionally this car has a slightly longer wheelbase and is also slightly wider than before but its overall length is a bit less. Also reduced significantly through systematic effort is the weight. The new A6 may be built on Audi’s MLB platform, also shared with the A4, but there are plenty of aluminium bits here. Bonnet, fender, doors and the boot lid are all made of aluminium and under the skin things like cross-members, suspension towers and even the bulkheads are made from the lighter material too. The result of all these weight-saving measures is a car that weighs 80kg less than the outgoing one, which gives it an advantage as far as performance, handling and even fuel efficiency are concerned.

The A6 also comes equipped with Audi’s Quattro four-wheel-drive system that gets a 60:40 rear bias. Adaptive air suspension and Audi Drive Select allow the driver customisable setting for systems like dampers, steering and engine mapping.

An interesting feature is how the adaptive restraint system networks with Audi’s ‘Pre Sense Basic’ safety system. It detects how tall the driver and front passenger are and, if necessary, the airbags can quickly blow down a portion of their air volume to cushion the head and chest more gently in a crash!  

Just as avant garde-looking as the exteriors are the gobsmacking insides. Again this is an Audi for sure but with some new shapes, new details and an even higher standard of fit and finish that makes you want to paw the cabin almost continuously. The wraparound design that starts with a wedge of wood on the doors is simply stunning and features from the A8, like the fabulous instrument cluster with the big screen in the centre straddled by raised dials, the touchpad control on the transmission tunnel and Audi’s new asymmetric chrome highlights, lift the mood of the cabin to a different class. And there is visual drama here too. The MMI screen, for example, pops out from behind the vents or can be tucked away to give back the clean look of the dash.

Long-limbed drivers will find themselves particularly comfortable behind the wheel. There is acres of space for the driver, adjusting the seat and steering wheel allows you to find the perfect driving position, and visibility is very good as well even when you reverse. The driver’s seat, however, doesn’t feel very large and that’s the case in the rear as well. Though the rear seat has loads of legroom and decent headroom too, it is set a touch too low and this adversely impacts under-thigh support. It’s comfy enough at the back but we feel the rear seat could have been slightly larger and offered more support.

Audi hasn’t stinted on features. Standard on the new A6 is the keyless entry and go, sunroof, four-zone climate control, iPod and Bluetooth connectivity, leather seats, a 20GB hard drive and adaptive air suspension. You can equip it further with LED headlamps (as fitted to the test car), the MMI touchpad, DVD changer, reverse camera and a BOSE sound system. And, as expected, there is a long list of safety features too. It’s got ESP, ABS, six airbags, the Pre Sense system and of course the all-wheel-drive grip.  Strangely, there is no stop-start or energy recovery system on the diesel. These will feature on the petrol versions that will debut later though.

With its new stiffer chassis and adjustable air springs and dampers, Audi has found a happy compromise as far as ride and handling is concerned. The dampers set in ‘Comfort’ are extremely indulgent and the A6 really did surprise us with how well it rode. Helping the secondary ride in no small measure are the 225/55-R17
tyres whose relatively high profile provide considerable cushioning over bad roads.

The A6 glides over rough sections silently and with very little movement of the body, low speed ride is better than expected from an air suspension system. Even wildly undulating surfaces are ridden over with a very high degree of body control. Large holes, however, do result in a sharp thunk due to the short-travel suspension and the lightweight A6 does shudder a bit over particularly bad patches. Most disconcerting was the fair amount of tyre and road noise which is a problem that afflicts other Audis
like the A8 and A7 too.

Audi, however, has done well to make Sport mode quite comfortable and useable. It’s not as hard-edged or bone jarring as you would imagine and you can enjoy the best of what this car has to offer on some of our better surfaced roads.

The A6 is quite adept at shrink-wrapping itself around you. It feels no bigger than an A4 from behind the wheel, acts like a car with only half its mass when asked to change direction and the Quattro system provides it prodigious grip too. The A6 is fun to drive but not brilliantly so. There’s a lot of understeer to deal with when pushed hard but the biggest party pooper is the steering which feels numb and devoid of feel, even in ‘Dynamic’ mode. As a result, it’s not a very engaging drive and the brakes feel mushy too.

Also unique for a car in this class is the lift feature that makes the air springs raise the car 20mm to help it clear bad roads or extra large speedbreakers at low speed. Very practical.

A6 3.0 TDI
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