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First look: Audi A6 slims down

The light stuff: Audi's new A6 is cloaked in aluminium panels to help beat the battle of the bulge.

Aluminium panels, hybrid powertrain help new Audi A6 go on fuel economy offensive

1 Dec 2010

AUDI’S all-new 2011 A6 takes a leaf out of big brother A8’s fuel-conservation book by trimming fat with increased aluminium content and more efficient powertrains, including a petrol-electric hybrid from 2012.

Set to arrive in Australia in the second half of 2011 after an Australian International Motor Show debut in Melbourne in July, the leaner, shorter, lower and more aerodynamic fourth-generation A6 revealed overnight is nevertheless more spacious, thanks to a longer wheelbase and wider body that is now 20 per cent aluminium.

Audi claims fuel consumption has been cut 19 per cent across the new range that will be launched in Europe with a choice of five engines – two petrol and three diesel – early next year, with the petrol-electric hybrid powertrain following about a year later. Also expect hot-shot S and RS variants at some point.

Audi Australia has confirmed that petrol and diesel engines will be available at launch in this country, although it says it is still deciding which ones.

Australia is also considering the A6 hybrid powertrain that is also expected to debut in the Q5 SUV in 2012. The hybrid combines a 155kW 2.0-litre TFSI four-cylinder petrol engine with a 33kW/211Nm electric motor to push a combined 188kW to the front wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission.

7 center imageAudi claims the hybrid, driven by a lithium-ion battery in the boot, will have the performance of a V6 with the fuel economy of a four, accelerating from zero to 100km/h in 7.3 seconds and delivering 6.2 litres per 100km fuel consumption with CO2 emission of 142 grams per kilometre.

This, however, is way short of the 4.9L/100km and 129g/km delivered by the 2.0-litre TDI engine to be available in the new A6. This tweaked version of the current Audi TDI now delivers 130kW – up from the current version’s 125kW.

Other engines include a 150kW/280Nm 2.8-litre normally aspirated FSI V6 that does away with the inlet throttle body by controlling air intake via the engine valves. This engine is said to produce a 0-100km/h acceleration time of 7.7 seconds and combined fuel economy of 7.4L/100km.

A force-fed 3.0-litre TFSI V6 is the performance leader of the range (at least until the Rs arrive) pumping out 220kW and 440Nm to propel the A6 to 100km/h in 5.5 seconds – more than half a second quicker than the current equivalent model.

A new 3.0-litre TDI diesel comes in two states of tune – 150kW/400Nm and top-of-the-diesel-line 180kW/500Nm. The former uses just 5.2L/100km of fuel, while the latter drinks 6.0L/100km.

The hot diesel is said to take just 6.1 seconds to hit 100km/h and tops out at 250km/h on the autobahn.

All V6 versions will get quattro all-wheel-drive traction, while front-wheel drive will be standard on the 2.0-litre TDI and hybrid. The new seven-speed dual-clutch S tronic transmission makes it debut on the A6 V6 models, while the TDI 2.0 gets a choice of manual or Multitronic auto.

Fuel economy and acceleration are assisted by the new lightweight body that uses a blend of aluminium and high-strength steel to carve about 15 per cent from the weight compared with a conventional steel body.

Aluminium panels include front mudguards, bonnet, rear hatch and doors, as well as the bulkhead and cross-member in the boot. The front strut mounts are also made of cast aluminium.

The A6 TDI is 4.92 metres long – similar to the 5 Series – and weighs in at 1575kg – 15kg lighter than the kerb weight list for the current A6 in Australia but 50kg leaner than the equivalent BMW 520d.

Audi is claiming a slippery aerodynamic drag figure of 0.26Cd.

While styling advances are evolutionary, conservative and undoubtedly Audi, the A6 bristles with new technology that the German prestige car-maker hopes will help its executive express take the fight up to the rival BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-class in Europe and North America, not just in China where it is already dominant.

The A6 even dials up Google Earth on the internet for its sat-nav system that, with optional add-ons, is capable of automatically activating high-beam headlights when entering a highway on-ramp or switching on cornering lights when approaching a turn.

Systems that are either standard or available on the new A6 include Audi Pre Sense crash mitigation system, adaptive cruise control, idle-stop, active lane assist, side-assist blind spot detection, night vision system to highlight pedestrian, speed limit display and park assist automatic parallel parking.

The A6 rides on aluminium five-link front suspension and trapezoidal-link rear suspension.

Inside, the A6 gets what it calls a wrap-around inlay around the front of the cabin, starting at the driver’s door and curving in an arc around the base of the windscreen to the passenger’s door.

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