Style & substance in equal measure.
German luxury carmaker Audi has unwrapped its newest contender in the hotly-contested mid-size saloon market, the A6. As typical of an Audi, the A6 aims to bring technological innovation to new levels in the segment, paired to more dynamism and agility than any A6 before it (or so they claim). The A6 will roll off the production line in Neckarsulm, Germany in June this year for their home market, before hitting international markets not long afterwards.
The new A6 is now 7mm longer (4,939mm total), 12mm wider (1866mm total), and 2mm taller (1457mm total) than the outgoing car, though its proportions hide that bulk well. The A6 wears Audi’s latest interpretation of the wide Singleframe grille flanked by intricate LED headlights, from which originate strong contour lines that aim to emphasise the presence of the new A6. The A6 is now purportedly available in 5 different design packages, culminating in the sporty S-Line trim that sits at the top of the tree.
Audi’s taken the opportunity with the new A6 to bring aboard its new LED lighting signatures. The top-spec Matrix LED headlights come with five intricate horizontal lines to form the daytime running light signatures, with the main-beam modules hiding within them in a way that Audi says looks like pupils. Anyway, the rear light signature forms an uninterrupted beam across the rear with nine vertical segments for each unit to form the rear light signature, with the brake light filling the space between. Dynamic indicators are available naturally, while the top-spec models get a unique pulsing light display when the car is locked or unlocked. This “is the hallmark of Audi,” it seems.
The cabin has seen significant redesign for the new model, creating a space that can feed the requirements of both luxury and dynamism, of elegance and individuality in equal measure. There are ‘Basic,’ ‘Sport,’ ‘Design,’ ‘Design Selection,’ and ’S-Line Sport’ packages to choose from, with each variant offering different colour concepts. The use of various materials “attest to the uncompromisingly high quality of the new saloon.”
At the core of the A6’s cabin is the revised infotainment unit. MMI now comes with a purely touch-operated system which, in MMI Navigation+ specification, pairs a 10.3-inch upper touchscreen to an 8.6-inch screen below (similar to the latest infotainment systems from Jaguar-Land Rover), which together handle all of the car’s major functions. HVAC controls, navigation, entertainment, vehicle settings… most, if not all of these functions are handled by the dual touchscreen interface, which features haptic feedback that aims to increase usability while you’re on the move.
And of course, Audi’s virtual cockpit gets added as standard with MMI Nav+ which replaces the conventional dials with a 12.3-inch widescreen display. The A6 can also be optioned up to feature a full Bang & Olufsen audio system which offers an immersive 3D sound experience, and MMI Nav+ integrates a 4G LTE connection to offer real-time traffic-dependant navigation as well as connectivity via the myAudi app. Via the app, owners can opt to do without the traditional key altogether, instead using near-field communication to turn a compatible Android smartphone into a key.
Audi says the new A6 is a fully-electrified proposition, with all engines gaining a belt alternator starter paired to a lithium-ion battery. As such, the car can essentially launch itself in full-electric mode, and allow the car to coast with the engine off at speeds between 55km/h-160km/h. With the starter, the A6 is capable of increasing the operational speed of its start/stop system to 22km/h, with the engine turning back on again “predictively” as soon as the A6 detects the vehicle ahead has moved. With the belt alternator starter system, the MHEV A6 is capable of saving as much as 0.7L/100km.
The A6 will be launched in European markets with two new engines, one petrol and one diesel. The petrol unit, a 3.0-litre TFSI V6 unit, produces a healthy 250kW and 500Nm, capable of rocketing the A6 from rest to 100km/h in just 5.1-seconds, before hitting a top speed of 250km/h. This mill is claimed to consume just 7.1L/100km on the combined cycle, though we’re highly doubtful that that figure will be achievable in day-to-day conditions. This engine is paired to a 7-speed S-Tronic gearbox.
The other mill is a 3.0TDI diesel, which puts out a comparable 210kW but a monstrous 600Nm. A century sprint time wasn’t given, but more importantly, the oiler claims a fuel consumption figure of just 5.8L/100km on the combined cycle. This will likely be of the utmost priority to long-distance drivers and fleet buyers. The 3.0TDI comes mated to an eight-speed tiptronic gearbox.
Both the 3.0TFSI and 3.0TDI come with Quattro all-wheel drive, with a self-locking centre dfferential, and the capability to engage rear-wheel propulsion almost instantaneously when it detects the front wheels slipping.
The new A6 aims to offer greater agility than the outgoing car by providing progressive steering as standard, a system that alters the steering-input:wheel-angle ratio depending on vehicle speed. With it, the A6 promises to offer a more connected, more intuitive driving experience that conveys great information from the road surface underfoot. Dynamic all-wheel steering is offered for the first time on the A6 with the new generation, turning the rear wheels as much as 5º in either direction depending on travelling speed.
At low speeds, the rear wheels turn in an opposing direction to the fronts, reducing the turning circle by as much as 1.1-metres. However, at higher speeds, the rear wheels turn in tandem with the fronts, increasing highway stability during lane changes or while keeping the car tracking straight.
As with Audis of late, the new A6 comes chock full of active driver assistance (ADAS) systems that aim to offer “more comfort, poise, and safety” on long and short journeys. On offer are a Park Assist package, a City Assist package, and a Tour Assist package, with each tacking on a unique set of features. Park Assist adds things like semi-autonomous parking capabilities, as well as ‘Garage Pilot,’ which Audi says can autonomously manoeuvre the A6 into and out of a tight parking space. Garage Pilot is triggered and controlled by the myAudi app, and works as long as you have your finger on the button.
The City Assist package throws in features like a ‘Crossing Assist,’ which wasn’t detailed at all. The Tour package however adds something called ‘Adaptive Cruise Assist’ which adds to the intelligent cruise control a lane-keeping aid that keeps the car in lane over longer periods. Further, this works together with an ‘efficiency assist’ function that keeps you sipping fuel for as much as possible.
With the new A6 poised to hit the German market come June, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect the new ‘business saloon’ here on our shores by late 2018 or early 2019. When it does arrive, the A6 will have to do battle with a sharpened set of rivals: Not only are we still only just getting used to the new BMW 5-Series, but there’s also the very refined Mercedes-Benz E-Class to think about, as well as the effortlessly-cool Volvo S90 and the driver-focused Jaguar XF. Either way, stay tuned to CarShowroom as we bring you more updates as they come.