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Car reviews - Audi - A6 - 2.0-litre range

Launch Story

Audi logo21 Oct 2011

By HAITHAM RAZAGUI

AUDI has thrown down the gauntlet in the Australian luxury sedan market with new fuel-efficient four-cylinder front-drive entry-level variants for the A6 range it launched here in July, with generous levels of standard equipment and sharp pricing from $77,900 plus on-road costs.

The price of Audi’s most affordable A6, the 2.0-litre TFSI turbo-petrol, matches that of the recently re-priced BMW 520i sedan while the 2.0-litre TDI diesel variant equals the new Jaguar XF 2.2D as the joint-cheapest oil-burner in its segment at $78,900, undercutting the 520d’s newly-lowered price by $1800 and the Mercedes-Benz E220 CDI by $4400.

Audi is also competitive on fuel consumption, with all A6 models featuring standard idle-stop and regenerative braking, enabling the petrol four-pot to match the equivalent BMW’s 6.4 litres per 100 kilometres while hammering the 7.2L/100km returned by the Benz.

CO2 outputs are 149 grams per kilometre for the Audi and BMW, while the Mercedes puffs out 166g/km.

In the diesel department, had BMW not just revised its 520d to return 4.7L/100km and 123g/km (down from a Mercedes E250 CDI-matching 5.1L/100km and 141g/km) Audi would be able to claim class supremacy with the A6 2.0-litre TDI offering 5.0L/100km and 132g/km on the combined cycle.

Selecting a four-cylinder A6 over the previous entry variant – the petrol V6-powered, all-wheel-drive 2.8-litre TFSI – saves $16,000.

However, buyers will not feel short-changed on key equipment, for the standard kit list includes hard-drive satellite-navigation with eight-inch screen and virtual CD stacker, electric front seat adjustment with memory, dual-zone climate control and full leather upholstery.

Other equipment highlights include USB/iPod connectivity, Bluetooth streaming, front and rear parking sensors, cruise control with braking, keyless entry and start, auto-dimming interior and exterior mirrors, automatic wipers and headlights, and 17-inch alloy wheels.

Four-cylinder BMW 5 Series variants come similarly equipped to the Audi, but the Mercedes-Benz E220 CDI, despite its price premium, lacks sat-nav, climate control, leather upholstery, electric memory seats, auto-dimming mirrors and rides on smaller 16-inch alloy wheels.

Whereas the six-cylinder A6 line-up employs a seven-speed S-Tronic dual-clutch automatic transmission, the four-cylinder variants drive the front wheels through a continuously variable Multitronic transmission with a stepped mode that offers eight fixed ratios for semi-automatic operation.

The direct-injection turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine in the A6 produces 132kW of power and 320Nm of torque, sufficient to achieve 0-100km/h in 8.3 seconds – four-tenths slower than the 135kW/270Nm BMW 520i and six-tenths slower than the 150kW/310Nm Benz.

The diesels are more evenly matched, with the 130kW/380Nm Audi right in the middle with 0-100km/h in 8.2s, with the 135kW/380Nm BMW a tenth quicker and the 125kW/400Nm Mercedes a tenth slower.

Audi Australia managing director Uwe Hagen said the A6 is an important model in terms of perception rather than sales volume and he considers it to be the car that best represents Audi as a brand.

Audi hopes the A6 – of which 528 were sold to the end of September, up 29.4 per cent – will eventually match the sales volume of its two German rivals in Australia, which both shift twice as many units.

The Ingolstadt-based manufacturer expects 65 per cent of Australian A6 volume to come from four-cylinder sales – with a slight bias towards the diesel – as those variants will appeal more to the fleet and lease market, plus people upgrading from smaller models like the A4.

Audi is already well on its way to having another record year in Australia, with 14,500 units forecast by year-end – an increase of 12 per cent.

When he joined Audi Australia as MD in March last year, Mr Hagen believed the company’s target of 15,000 annual sales by 2015 would be achieved two years ahead of schedule.

However, that could possibly now be achieved this year and will almost certainly be smashed next year with a full year of A1 sales and the arrival of more new models including the Q3 crossover, revised A5, A6 Avant wagon and high-performance V8-powered S6, S7 and S8.

By continuing to grow in Australia, Audi has increased its market share while both BMW and Mercedes find their sales down more than five per cent in a market that has shrunk 3.7 per cent so far this year.

Audi’s best-selling model in Australia is the A4, with 2472 units to the end of September, followed by the Q5 (2108 units), A3 (1631 units) and A1 (1301).

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