In earlier days, they said, if you were a driver who loved to corner, who loved to go attacking every time when behind the wheel, or who loved a car which obeyed your commands, you would buy a BMW. However if you are someone who enjoyed rear seat comfort, loved being chauffeured around, loved to catch up with unperturbed sleep, while the chauffeur did the duty, or loved to stretch and feel pampered, you would buy a Mercedes-Benz. Then who bought the Audi? Hmm, well someone who’s confused in life, someone who didn’t buy BMW or Mercedes-Benz, well coz, everyone around him was buying one.
And then in 1980’s Audi started focusing on technology as Germany started emerging as technical leader worldwide.
Thus, Progress Through Technology has been at heart of Audi ever since 1980’s, no wonder then, their tag line reads Vorsprung Durch Technik. Just as for BMW, Sheer Driving Pleasure has been their driving force, for Audi, using Technology has been on forefront. Look at it this way, world’s first brand to introduce DRL’s was Audi, Touch Screen Infotainment Systems was Audi, Digital Driver Displays, famously branded as Virtual Cockpit Display was Audi, or even the Dual Sequential Gearbox or the S Tronic Gearbox, was Audi.
And then, Audi no more was a “Me-Too” Brand. No more was it a brand where people went to buy, because they were not able to choose between BMW or Mercedes-Benz, but people went to buy Audi, because they loved, the way Audi was able to put modern technology into motion. They loved the way, Audi cars felt in general, the fit and finish was top class, they loved the way Audi cars were a perfect mix of front seat excitement as well as back seat comfort, and they loved Audi because all the Audi’s looked like, they were on steroids to look fitter, leaner and meaner. And what was true to the entire line up of Audi’s, is true to this all new eight generation Audi A6. Not only is it leaner, meaner and fitter as compared to its out going car, it also is loaded with technology to the brim. So if you are out there, who wants to buy a car, which instantly makes a statement, which has strong shoulder and crease lines, has the most technologically modern interiors ever seen in this segment, sharp looking LED lights all around, which when illuminate, accentuate your taste for finer details in life, well then, the new Audi A6, is the perfect buy for you. But before I tell you, why I am saying so, lets have a quick look at the history of this iconic sedan.
Audi A6 has been the successor of Audi 100, and was launched in 1994. The first generation A6, also code named internally as Typ 4A, was built till 1997, which paved way to its successor code named Typ 4B. In 2001, this A6 featured in Car and Driver Magazine’s Ten Best Cars list. 24 years later, the Typ 4K, was introduced in late 2018 as the most modern Audi A6 yet. A claim that not only Audi makes, but auto journalists over the world echo Audi’s words.
I have the car with me today, and lets see why this Audi A6 is touted as the most modern Audi A6 yet.
Design Language - Exteriors
First look at this Audi A6, and you know that this Audi has marginally grown in dimensions as compared to the car it replaces. However, while doing so, Audi has maintained, “why fix it, if ain’t broke” philosophy. In India, we don’t get the LWB Version, but the standard version, as Audi claims that this standard version of the A6, will do the job of pampering its customers, just as the way they are used to.
On the front, the first thing that you notice is the larger than life single unit hexagonal grille finished in chrome, which dawns the major part of the front fascia. The four bangles logo also sit proudly on the grille. Towards the end are the full auto Matrix LED headlamps which are more angular and now sport a much sharper looking signature LED DRL’s.
Move towards the side, and you see a strong crease line moving from the section of the headlights right up to the taillights, as if bifurcating the car in two sections. Just like the Audi A4, the mirrors on the A6 move on the door and not on the window line. The window line again gets chrome finish to add in dash of luxury.
On the rear the tail lamps too have grown in size and now they sport interesting detailing elements, which when illuminate look fab. What also is unique is the chrome slat moving across the rear and blending into the tail lights, add to the dash of elegance to the air. There is also a chrome strip in the bumper below which integrates in what looks like an exhaust tip, but are just part of the design elements.
In few global markets the A6 is offered with up to 22 inch sized wheels, and hence the wheel arches in this Audi are quite tall, however in India, the A6 comes with 18 inch wheels, which is same as the old generation, however to fill in the wheel arches, Audi has used taller profile tires.
The boot capacity is around 530 litres, may not be class leading, but is definitely usable, as the space saver tire is neatly tucked away below and does not intrude with luggage loading area.
Overall, I would say the car has become more sharper, and now has more in your face design with sharper lines and cuts to elevate the design elements integrated in the car. One thing that I think is a missed opportunity however is the inclusion of panoramic sunroof. It could have added charm to the overall silhouette of the car.
Design Language- Interiors
If you are used to the earlier generation of Audi’s with physical buttons, the first thing that will strike you as soon as you enter in this cabin is the number of touch screen’s in here. There are 3 in total, including the gorgeous virtual cockpit display. Audi had always been on the forefront when it comes to the interior fit and finish, and this Audi A6 is no different.
The dashboard is finished in soft touch materials with running ac vents, first seen in the Volkswagen Passat. Then there are two screens below surrounded by brushed aluminium running strip, which adds a doze of elegance. The upper screen doubles up as the car’s command centre to control most of the functionalities in the car, while the lower screen has controls for the air conditioning and for controlling other comfort features in the car. What’s also interesting is that the lower screen doubles up as your touch pad to scribble things, should you want to perform a some task and the car does come with active voice assistant to perform the commands you ask it to.
The steering wheel is chunky and feels nice to hold. Behind that steering wheel is Audi’s famed virtual cockpit display which is crisp and sharp as usual. Now it is updated with latest generation software, making it that much quicker to user response.
At front, Audi offers all the goodies that you expect at this price point, whether it is electrically adjustable front seats, for lumbar, electrically adjustable and programmable steering wheel for reach and rake, wireless charger, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, Ambient Lights, four zone auto climate control or even fantastic sounding Bang & Olufsen Sound System. More on that a bit later.
The response from touch screens is nice, there is an haptic feedback that you receive when you touch the screens, and the display resolution is up there with some of the best smart phones in the market today. However, we honestly are not fans of too many touch screens around, as they distract while driving. However, had there been a rotary dial to control the screens, just like say BMW or Mercedes-Benz cars, it would have been an added bonus.
The front seats are supremely comfortable and hold you in place well. I would have loved if Audi gave the thigh extenders just as its rivals to add in that extra doze of comfort, especially on long drives.
Once you step in the rear, the first thing that you notice is the leg room, it may not be in the leagues of Mercedes-Benz E Class, but if you compare with the latest BMW 5 Series or the Jaguar XF, it is up there with them. Is that a bad thing? Definitely not. The Legroom and Headroom is enough to keep the rear seats occupants happy. The seats, just as the front seats are supremely comfortable and the four zone auto climate control works perfectly fine to keep the occupants comfortable on those long journeys. An extremely important point to note here, is that the rear seat is strictly for 2 adults at all times, as the central tunnel is unusually high.
In Car Entertainment
Audi offers Bang & Olufsen’s, 16 speaker, 705 watts set up in Audi A6. Like most of the high end systems in other cars, it takes a while to set it up for the first time to get the right sound output and once its done, the system sounds phenomenally well. While I loved the audio quality, I did find the vocals to be muffled, and I would have preferred if Audi could reduce the bass bias setup at the factory levels. Even with the bass set 2 points on positive and sub-woofer set to 3 points positive, the sound output was bass heavy, muffling the vocals. But barring that, instrumentals sounded incredibly well.
The touch screen is absolutely crisp and the positive haptic feedback that one receives every-time one touches the screen is a delight. One grouse I had was, which there is nothing that can be done is the fact that, the screens are finger print magnets, it will be an herculean task for the driver or the sethji driving the car to keep the screens looking spanking clean every-time.
Performance- Engine and Gearbox
Audi has been one of the auto manufacturer to be on the forefront towards electrification and greener fuel cars. Going by that, Audi has launched the new A6 with a 45 TFSI batch, what that means, is the A6 comes with a 2.0 litre, four cylinder petrol engine. This time the engine churns out 246 hp/370 nm of torque and is mated to a 7 speed Dual Sequential Gearbox or what Audi calls S Tronic. Audi with A6 also introduces mild hybrid system for the first time in its Sedans. Post this, the next car to have mild hybrid would be the A8.
Couple of years ago, when Audi had launched the all new A4, I had driven the 2.0 Tdi A4, and the first thing that I immediately noticed was how refined their diesel mill was. For a moment, I thought, I had cranked a petrol mill. But wait, why am I telling you this here, well the context here is, if the diesel mill from the manufacturer was so silent, the petrol mill, by default has to be one isn’t it. But this A6 takes the no sound from engine at different levels.
Crank the engine using a neatly placed start-stop button, the engine settles to pretty much err... no noise, no vibration and no harshness coming in, inside the cabin. Slot, the car in D, touch the accelerator pedal and the car auto deactivates auto hold and moves forward. The progress is very linear as the S Tronic does the job up upshifting or downshifting without really letting you know anything. The shifts are completely seamless.
In years, Dual Sequential Gearbox has been amongst one of the best innovations in automotive technology. The way the gearbox is able to quickly react to what you want to do as a driver is unparalleled. Probably for this one technically advanced gearbox I would truly say to the engineers at Audi- Vorsprung Durch Technik.
Performance- Ride, Handling and Drivability
The outgoing A6 had air-suspensions, which get a miss in this generation of A6, it also missed out on the adaptive dampers. Has it impacted the ride quality in any way?
For starters, the A6 no more feels mushy-mushy what it felt in the earlier generation. It feels far more complaint and stiffer as compared to the outgoing car, that does not mean it affects the comfort in anyway. The ride quality while it has got stiffened for good, it does not loose out of being supple when needed. Due to raised ride height now, one thing that we definitely loved about the new A6 was that it did not bottom out on rough surfaces as the earlier generation used to.
Well this Audi is no BMW, so while it has the power, there is no surge of power that you feel while you are inside a BMW 5 Series 530i. However the progress is gradually linear and the car does reach triple digit speeds pretty quickly. Handling is pretty neutral too, while Audi has worked on getting the “driver involvement quotient” high in this A6, this one does not really excite you that much behind the wheel, but amongst their entire line up today, we can definitely say, this one is far more involving to drive. The steering is pretty light at standstill levels and progressively gets stiffer as the momentum builds in.
As expected in cars of this class, you get different drive modes, with Efficiency Mode being the most lethargic and Dynamic Mode being the most aggressive. And somewhere in between sits the Comfort Mode, apart from the Individual Mode, where the driver can set varying parameters for steering and throttle inputs. However, there is this interesting fifth mode- Auto Mode. We loved driving the car in Auto Mode, where in basis the conditions outside, the car alters the modes automatically. Should the car keep crawling in traffic, the car auto moves to Efficiency mode, and moment the software detects constant accelerator inputs, and a constant momentum, car shifts to the better, Dynamic mode, there by changing the throttle and gear response. This is like having a supercomputer inside the car, doing its job for you, 24/7 when you are behind the wheel.
With the new A6, Audi skimped on the air suspensions and the adaptive dampers, but that in no way hampers the way the car drives or rides. Yes the new car is stiffer as compared to the outgoing car, but that very much brings in the needed “driver involvement” quotient, so that the driver in you, on weekends can enjoy the crisp virtual cockpit, stellar looking dual screens and the overall built quality all around.
“Progress has to be Intense” This is a tag line that Audi always has below it’s TVC’s. And with every generational change, Audi has stuck to this line again and again.
While the outgoing Audi A6 was more focused towards the back seat comfort, the incoming A6, has that much little bit of driver orientation. While the outgoing A6 focused on comfort features, the incoming A6 focuses on technology.
So who is this Audi A6 for, well, BMW 5 Series still remains the king of the hill when it comes to outright performance and drivability, theres not dethroning it from that chair. E Class, still has unrivalled rear leg room, that even the cars from above its class can’t match, Volvo S90 is rock solid in its current avatar, and no one brings in exclusivity, the way Jaguar XF does.
Therefore on your boring weekdays, where you have bumper to bumper traffic all around, and you just want to relax on your way back home, that can be either in the comfort of the front passenger seat or the rear seat, unwind yourself with some soulful instrumentals, soak in the comfort of eye soothing ambient lights, or on exciting weekends, you want to give your chauffeur an off, and head out to those long drives, with your family nicely tucked in comfortably and safely, and you behind the wheel, enjoying the intense progress that Audi has made in this A6- be it the crisp and sharp 3 screens in the car, the build quality, which is up there with the best, the sound output from 705 watts Bang & Olufsen, or the slightly stiffer setup to ensure your car doesn’t leave its line on those impending twisties, the Audi A6, is just perfect for you.