First Drive

First Drive: Audi A6 TDI S-Line

The story:
While the executive saloon market isn’t exactly packed with cars, it’s a sector that’s getting tougher because buyers are shying away from the traditional three-box design and moving to large coupes and SUVs.
Category:Executive
Key rival:BMW 5-Series
Audi A6 50 TDI S-Line Tiptronic
Price:£50,000 (est)
MPG:50.4mpg
Emissions:146/km
On sale:Summer 2018

While the executive saloon market isn’t exactly packed with cars, it’s a sector that’s getting tougher because buyers are shying away from the traditional three-box design and moving to large coupes and SUVs.

It’s for this reason Audi doesn’t expect the all new A6 to outsell its predecessor.Audi A6 SedanAudi A6 Saloon 2018 - Image 2The tougher market means players in the executive car class must not only be better than before, and rammed with all the latest technology, but they must also offer something that sets them apart from, and arguably above, their rivals.

In Audi’s case it’s the cabin of the new A6 that is a step above those of rivals.

Sharing the same design as the recently launched A7 Sportback, the A6’s cabin is one of the simplest and most stylish on the market. Overall, the cabin is beautifully constructed from high-quality materials, but it’s Audi’s twin-screen central dashboard arrangement coupled to a digital display for the instruments that perfectly blends class with the latest tech.

The upper of the two screens controls the more visually important information such as the satnav, while the lower screen controls functions that are less frequently used, such as the air-conditioning system.

For the vast majority of the time, this set-up is just about perfect; only the few remaining buttons, including the drive mode selector, below the lower screen are difficult to see and use when on the move.Audi A6 SedanAudi A6 Saloon 2018 - Image 15While the looks of the new A6 are stylish too, it looks very similar to both the A7 Sportback (from the front) and the larger A8 (overall) which doesn’t help it stand out as much as it could.

Drive the A6 and you’ll find all versions are set up to be amazingly refined. All noise, from either the engine or the road, is impressive by its absence. At a motorway cruise the A6 is up there with, not only the class best, but possibly the class above. The new 2.0-litre diesel is particularly smooth when compared with similar-sized engines in rival cars.

The quiet cabin is complemented by a ride that, even without the optional air suspension, is great at removing the impact of potholes and uneven surfaces.

The seven-speed automatic gearbox in the petrol and the 2.0-litre diesel is smooth and swift to change. However, the eight-speed auto in the 3.0-litre diesel is noticeably slower to react to driver inputs.

The 3.0-litre TDI also feels much heavier and less nimble on twisty roads than both the petrol and the smaller diesel models. Steering feel in all A6s is some way off the class best in all versions. However, the steering is light and accurate and coupled to the four-wheel-steer option, makes the large saloon particularly manoeuvrable and easy to park.

Audi admits most buyers in the UK will be buying the car for its premium feel, technology and refinement, rather than for a sporty driving experience, and to this end the German premium brand has scored an undeniable win.

 

Tristan Young

The verdict

Easily the classiest interior in the class and one of the most refined cars available today.