A stirring drive, lots of A8-derived high-tech, sharper design, could propel the eight-gen Audi A6 to the big leagues
Photos: Audi, Derryn Wong
The Audi A6 has always been the underdog of Germany luxury sedans.
While it faces no such problem in other markets where Audi has a big slice of the upper-crust pie, in Singapore it’s always faced an uphill battle against the likes of the sales titans, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and BMW 5 Series.
How uphill? In the past decade, the 5er and the E-Class have both taken their turn being the best-selling cars in Singapore bar none. It’s a situation unheard of anywhere else in the world, one made possible by stratospheric COE prices of the past.
But Audi knows exactly what needs to be done, or rather, it’s continuing the groundwork laid down by the seventh-gen A6, codenamed C7 (2011-2018), with the new C8 version: More efficiency, more performance, a sporty but flexible drive, and technology. Lots and lots of technology.
The A6 has a leg-up here thanks to the MLB Evo platform. We’ve already tested the premiere Audi featuring these bones – that’s the so-full-of-tech-it-can-drive-itself Audi A8 flagship limo in 3.0 V6 and 4.0 V8 guises.
A little closer to the A6 is the Audi A7 Sportback, its five-door gran turismo, which CarBuyer also tested earlier this year in South Africa (read all these stories on CarBuyer.com.sg),
We’re all familiar with the subtext here: New platform, stronger, lighter, more interior space. And while the new car (comparing 3.0 V6 models past and present) is actually 10kg heavier, at 1,835kg with driver, it’s actually quite an achievement considering all the new features crammed on board, plus boosts to efficiency too.
Things are a little more spiced up this time in terms of design, with what Audi calls ‘quattro blisters’. They’re not real, ricer-type widebody arches of course, but far more appropriate and subtle design cues in the form of an additional accent line between the wheelarches and the shoulder line, making the car look lower than it really is, and sportier too.
If it’s more sport you want, the white car depicted is the Sport model – the dark grey one is the ‘Design’ trim – which has the Black Package, turning most of the chrome to gloss black, and bearing a slightly different lower front end design.
As the top non-RS A6, we always expect much from the 3.0-litre V6 variant. Previously, that was the 333hp supercharged V6 of old, but now it’s been replaced by the single turbo modern V6 (as seen on the Porsche Cayenne) with 7hp and a ballsy 50Nm more torque.
We tested the top-spec model with 21-inch tyres, air suspension and all-wheel steering (similar to the A7 Sportback) and it behaved predictably well. With cars like this, it’s not about sound and fury, but understated speed, impeccable body control and smooth, smooth handling.
The latter allows you to carry tremendous amounts of momentum through corners, the tyres never squealing for grip, the only limiting factor being how tight the roads are – and the Duro Valley’s vineyard-ridden mountain paths do get quite squeezy.
More interestingly, we were able to do a short spell in an A6 3.0 quattro closer to ‘Singapore spec’ – 19-inch wheels, standard non-adaptive suspension, and regular steering.
In the meantime, the base A6 3.0 does loom a little larger on the road, there’s less of the instant rotation the all-wheel steering system brings, as well as more understeer on sharper bends and hairpins, but the rest of the plus points remained.
It’s clear the A6 is extremely refined, adept at all speeds, and delivers punchy, involving driving at a slightly higher level than even the A7 does (it’s actually 65kg lighter, too). So in terms of dynamics, it’s certainly up there with the E-Class and 5 Series.
The cabin is classic new Audi: clean, airy interior that with three displays pushes the idea of a car’s glass cockpit the furthest: Active instruments, the infotainment display, and an additional lower control display.
The MMI control dial is gone, replaced entirely by touchscreens. It’s not our preferred method of human-machine interface with a car, but it’s very sleek and buttonless, and probably more intuitive for a wider range of people.
Additionally you can ‘talk’ to the car with a range of natural commands (like ‘I’m cold’ or ‘find me an Italian restaurant’) which futhers that sense of being in a cutting edge car. Watch the walkthrough video for a better idea of how this works.
That’s pretty much what the minimum a luxury sedan needs to do these days. Not only does it need to look milled from a solid block of metal, it also has to have performance to worry sports cars, save the earth, feel like a limo, and behave like KITT to boot.
The Mercedes-Benz E-Class and the BMW 5 Series can both do that, to varying extents, and now we know the Audi A6 can as well. Such a vastly competent car could spell eighth-time lucky for Audi in the big sedan leagues.
Audi A6 3.0 TFSI
|Engine||2,995cc, V6, turbocharged|
|Power||340hp at 5500rpm|
|Torque||500Nm at 1370-4500rpm|