You may question the sense in offering a slightly smaller 2.7-litre V6 diesel in the A6 range because, after all, the 3.0-litre V6 is brilliant. But get this, this 2.7-litre V6 is a whopping Rs 8 lakh cheaper than its bigger cousin and, though it’s not immediately obvious, it is significantly different under the skin. For starters, this engine sends its 190bhp (60bhp down on the 3.0 litre) only to the front wheels through a seven-step continuously variable transmission as opposed to the 3.0-litre’s Quattro system and torque converter.
Crank it up and there’s no clatter, just a vibrant background hum. It feels eager and the power delivery is deliciously linear. The thing is that this CVT doesn’t feel like a CVT. The rubber-band effect (where the engine revs and the car picks up speed gradually) just isn’t there and this is a really nice thing about this car. And in manual mode, it really feels like you are driving a torque converter auto. Under full steam, the engine has impressive pulling power and it remains refined even under hard acceleration. Keep your foot buried in the carpet and it’ll get to 100kph in 8.6 seconds, and 160kph in a little over 20sec but it’s the super-responsive way the gearbox reacts to your need for speed that is very satisfying. It even learns to adapt to your style of driving – sporty or fuel saving.
The rest is the same. The car we got was as well equipped as its bigger 3.0-litre TDI, and the interiors are typically Audi – well built and modern. Space is good, shoulder room is good and rear legroom of the same order. It rides beautifully, the suspension rounding off bumps perfectly and only thumping lightly over the sharper ones. In fact we think it’s softer than an E-class or a 5 Series.
Handling is middle of the road, there’s lots of grip and decent poise but it’s no old BMW 5 Series. The steering is also on the numb side of the scale. But that’s not to say there’s no fun to be had from the A6 – the car can be made to snake through roundabouts and sweeping bends with some enthusiasm and engagement. If there was one thing we didn’t like about this car, it’s that the cabin could have been more hushed. There’s quite a bit of tyre noise especially over concrete surfaces – the E-class is a cathedral in comparison.
The 2.7 TDI never makes you feel like you have the smaller engine – therein lies its brilliance. With its smaller price tag, this diesel really does make a lot of sense.