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Car reviews - Audi - A6 - sedan range

Launch Story

Audi logo18 Jul 2011

By RON HAMMERTON

AUDI'S seventh-generation A6 executive sedan has arrived in Australian showrooms to complete a hat-trick of all-new luxury-car launches in just nine months, giving Volkswagen's prestige brand the freshest top-end range in the segment.

Like the A8 limousine and A7 hatchback that preceded it in an expansive roll-out since September last year, the new A6 is lighter, more efficient and bristling with technology handed down from the German brand's more elite models.

And there is more to come from the Ingolstadt team, with no fewer than six more A6 variants to join the three V6 quattro all-wheel drive models launched this week, starting with two entry-level front-wheel-drive four-cylinder models from about October, followed by the Avant wagon and sporty S6 in 2012, and the Allroad crossover wagon and top-of-the-range RS6 rocketship later in the model life.

An A6 hybrid is also in the pipeline, combining a 2.0-litre TSFI petrol engine with an electric motor for a total 180kW of power and 6.2 litres per 100km fuel economy.

Audi Australia managing director Uwe Hagen said the A6 was a showcase of Audi core technologies, setting a new benchmark in the segment with its lightweight hybrid aluminium-steel space-frame body construction – the lightest in its segment and 65kg lighter than the previous model – that, along with fresh engine and transmission technologies such as idle-stop, electric-assisted power steering, a class-leading 0.28Cd aerodynamic drag figure and other improvements, contribute to a 15 per cent cut in fuel consumption across the range.



“This car really drives the whole brand,” he said, adding that it was not only destined to grow Audi sales from conquest business but become an important next step for Audi A4 customers looking to move up.

Mr Hagen described the A6 as the last piece in Audi's premium segment puzzle, following on from the A8 flagship sedan launch last September and the mid-sized A7 in March.

He said it was an important step towards Audi's sustainable growth in Australia, where the brand hoped to achieve luxury segment leadership by 2015.

The latest model – dubbed C7, for seventh-generation C-segment – is a tad shorter than the previous model (-12mm) but 69mm longer in the wheelbase due to some re-organisation of the final drive to the front wheels that pushes the front axle forward.

This not only frees up more interior space but also improves the A6's weight balance for improved ride and handling. The latest A6 – the newest in the line that started as the Audi 100 in 1968 before the name change in 1995 – also benefits from the latest version of Audi's Quattro drivetrain with crown-gear torque splitting between the front and rear axles for more intelligent traction.

The set up was pioneered on the current Audi RS5 super-coupe that surely needed the help to deal with the power from its monstrous V8 engine.

The new A6 line-up starts with three V6 powertrains, all with Audi's seven-speed S-Tronic dual-clutch transmission from the TT sports car – a first for the A6.

The entry level model – for now – is the $93,900 normally-aspirated 2.8-litre FSI quattro, with 150kW of power and 280Nm of torque – sufficient to power it from standstill to 100km/h in 8.1 seconds.

Next up the range is the $116,500 3.0-litre turbo-diesel TDI Quattro which gains 4kW of power – to 180kW – while retaining 500Nm of torque.

This engine is the most frugal in the range, at least until its four-cylinder little brother arrives later in the year. The V6 chews through just 6.0L/100km – improved from 7.1L/100km – and emits just 158 grams of CO2. It is no slouch, either, bolting to 100km/h in 6.1 seconds (down from 6.8 sec).

But if it is speed you want, the $121,500 3.0-litre supercharged petrol TFSI is the pick, taking just 5.5 seconds to race to 100km/h. If that is not enough, the S6 – reportedly with turbo-charged V8 engine – and even hotter RS6 – with a twin-turbo V8 replacing the V10 of the current model – will be along eventually.

Pricing of all three new V6 models reflects a rise over the current variants, with the 2.8 FSI going up $1800, the 3.0TDI rising $7700, and the 3.0TFSI jumping $8700. However, Audi argues the lift in both technology and equipment levels more than justifies the rises.

For luxury car buyers who care more about their bank balance than pace, the entry level four-cylinder models – the 130kW/380Nm diesel 2.0 TDI and 132kW/320 petrol 2.0 TFSI – are expected to straddle the $80,000 mark, with the diesel slightly dearer than the petrol version.

This should put the Audi range openers slightly under the cheapest 5 Series BMW, the top-selling 520d, and Mercedes-Benz E220CDI Elegance – both priced at $83,300.

Unlike the V6 A6 models, the four-cylinder variants will get the Multitronic CVT transmission in place of the S-Tronic.

The diesel four-cylinder A6 should win the bragging rights at the fuel pump, with an expected 4.9L/100km figure, compared with the Beemer's 5.1L/100km and Benz's 5.9L/100km.

Suspension remains MacPherson strut up the front and four-link in the rear, both with an emphasis on aluminium for reduced weight.

A wrap-around dashboard is a key feature of the new-look interior, which also marks the debut of a new-look Drive Select driving mode control unit on the A6 3.0TDI and 3.0TSFI, allowing drivers to dial up an 'efficiency' mode for the first time in an Audi.

This system curbs the air-conditioning and modifies the gearshifts to save a few millilitres here and there.

As well as the crown gear central differential on the Quattro system that can push as much as 85 per cent of the driving force to the rear wheels or up to 70 per cent to the front depending on driving conditions, A6 buyers can opt for a sports differential and – soon – adaptive air suspension to raise their ride to a new level of sublimeness.

All three V6 models get the Audi S-Line sports body pack as standard, with its wider wheel arch flares, bigger front air dam ports and a rear diffuser, for that sporty look.

The boot has a deeper opening and can now swallow 530 litres of luggage – about four golf bags – or 995 litres with the split-fold seats down. Wheels are18-inch alloys, and larger sizes are available.

Other options include adaptive cruise control with 'stop-and-go' function' – direct from the new A8 – and a head-up display that can beam speed, sat-nav instructions and the adaptive cruise information, where fitted.

Night vision is also available, picking out wayward pedestrians and warning the driver.

It would not be an Audi without LED lights, with a row of the daytime running lights in a new wavy pattern under the Bi-xenon headlights. Full LEDs are optional.

Audi's MMI pop-up screen interface is standard, as is Bluetooth connectivity, electric seats, sunroof and other usual luxury touches.

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