Clever hybrid tech. Many touchscreens. Much grille. Why buy an A8?
The new Audi A6 isn’t interested in the usual executive saloon playbook. Usually, it works like this. Car company creates big, posh luxury limousine. Design details from posh luxury limousine, some of its interior ideas and the cheaper bits of its tech are then inherited by the bigger selling, cheaper executive saloon.
So, the Mercedes E-Class borrows the S-Class’s twin interior screens. A BMW 5 Series now has a touchscreen key like the 7 Series.
Audi, meanwhile, has just shrunk the entire A8’s dashboard and clever hybrid powertrain into the smaller A6. And over the top, it’s hung a body with some creases, some stance and some aggression. In S-line trim, we reckon this is a handsome barge. It’s Audi’s answer to your cries of protest at all their cars looking like a set of Hannibal-themed Russian dolls. You may deliver your verdict below. Haters of fake exhaust pipes might want to look away… now.
Beneath the LED lights, tauter lines and a grille to make Five Guys weep, the A6 shares its platform with the new A7, which itself is basically an A8 limo on dress-down Friday. The car uses a belt alternator starter, lithium-ion battery and 48-volt electricity to switch the engine off while coasting but maintain electrical function, in the name of efficiency. Between 55kph and 159kph, if you lift off the throttle, the engine is completely stopped.
So, your twin touchscreens – a 10.1-inch one for main car ops, and a lower 8.6-inch display for tweaking climate control - won’t black out while you’re whooshing along with the engine asleep. Neither will the fiendishly complex steering we’ll talk about shortly. They think of everything don’t they, these Germans?
The tech roll call is so long, if we listed it all here you’d not be finished before the A6 was facelifted. It’s connected to the Internet of Things and can share real-time traffic information with other Audis. Plans are afoot to hook this up with a parking space finder app to save traipsing around town looking for a gap. The key can talk to your smartphone and share the ability to lock and start the car with five of your contacts. Driver-free remote parking and Audi’s latest urban self-driving superpowers are optional too.
With so many brain cells and Euros dedicated to what the A6 can do without a pesky human, you’d expect Audi not to give a monkey’s about how the A6 drives. Not so, apparently. In fact, Audi says the roomier new model is “noticeably sportier than the outgoing model”. That’s some top-drawer faint praise there, guys. There are bathroom cabinets sportier than the old A6.
So, what’s unleashed this newfound schportiness? Speed-sensitive steering, apparently, and the fitment of rear-wheel steering for about-town agility and motorway stability. Meanwhile there’s more aluminium in the suspension to reduce unsprung weight and better the ride. If you’d like to ruin all the effort Audi’s gone to in the name of deft handling, 21-inch alloys are on the options list.
Like the new A7, Audi’s launching the A6 with a pair of turbcharged 3.0-litre V6 engines: a petrol with 335bhp good for 0-100kph in 5.1 seconds, and a 282bhp diesel that’ll still duck below six seconds to sixty but also claims CO2 emissions as low as 142g/km.
Sales are due to kick off in June. The A6 will wade into battle against the likes of the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Jaguar XF with its boss’s tech arsenal, and a dollop more styling swagger. Reckon Audi’s limo for the masses is onto a winner?