2012 AUDI A6 DIESEL REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Prestige large sedan
Price: $78.900 (plus on-roads)
Fuel Economy (claimed): 5.0 l/100km
Fuel Economy (tested): 7.1 l/100lm
The new Audi A6 is bigger, leaner and lovelier to look at, and kicks off with both a 2.0-litre TFSI petrol and this, the 2.0-litre TDI diesel.
At $78,900 plus on-road taxes and charges, the TDI is just $1k more than the TFSI, but the strong diesel gives it a little more urgency than its petrol equivalent.
It is up against some stiff competition in this class, with BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar and even Volvo all throwing their hats into the stretched executive sedan ring.
And in some areas, such as interior fit and finish, design and refinement, the big Audi excels.
In fact, the A6 does everything well, as one would expect from both Audi and an $80k car.
But is it exciting? Dynamic? Well, no...
Quality: Like all offerings from Audi, the fit and finish is absolutely superb. The dash gets the new pop-out LCD screen (with accompanying MMI touch-pad) for all car controls, sat-nav and camera, which adds a sense of occasion to the start-up every time.
All surfaces are soft-touch and shut-lines are regimentally accurate.
Comfort: The base car gets leather with electronic front seats and excellent lumbar adjustment, all equating to a plush, comfortable, and ergonomically ‘right’ driving position.
The backseat in this latest A6 benefits from a longer wheelbase, making for ample foot and knee-room. Rear seats are also wide, well-shaped and comfortable.
Equipment: The LCD infotainment display with Audi MMI touch-pad is standard; it features sat-nav, Bluetooth, trip computer, audio, tyre-pressure monitoring, and front and rear parking-cameras.
There is keyless entry and start, cruise control, dual-zone air-con, and 10-speakers for the stereo.
Unfortunately, the options list is a big one, and can really send the showroom price northward. Some features such as seat-heaters ($891), four-zone air-con ($1390), auto folding mirrors ($490) and anti-theft alarm ($980) should really be standard in an $80k car.
Storage: The boot is large with good access, opening up to 995 litres with the split-fold seats down, or 530 litres with the seats-up.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: To match its stately looks, the A6 offers a quiet and relaxed drive, if somewhat sedate. The 130kW/380Nm four-cylinder has reasonable get-up-and-go, especially once on the move, and is untroubled by hills, but the A6 is no hot-shoe express.
The aluminium bonnet, doors and fenders lighten the car, which weighs in at a creditable 1575kg, and results in a tiny fuel consumption of 5.0 l/100km on official figures and a four-star green rating.
Auto stop-start is standard and switchable, and it works quickly, though the engine firing up is more noticeable in 2.0-litre guise than in the larger-capacity A6 variants.
Some diesel noise filters through the firewall, especially when working hard, but the cabin ambience is quiet and befitting of a premium sedan.
A standard e-Diff LSD (limited slip) limits understeer from the front-drive layout when cornering at speed, but if trying to punch out of corners the 380Nm is doled out conservatively (which will at least prevent you making a mess of things).
The steering too is a little light, and there’s obvious electrical assistance just off centre.
Then there’s the transmission – and it’s not a highpoint. The eight-step CVT is slow off the line and is in no hurry to hook up unless the throttle is given a decent shove.
Surely a conventional auto (with torque converter) would work better with a small-capacity diesel? But this is the only transmission choice available in the lower price range.
Refinement: In contrast to the larger-capacity A6 engines, the thrum from the small ‘oiler’ is a little more intrusive - particularly on start-up and in the higher rev range.
It’s far from harsh however, and is certainly one of the better modern diesels.
Otherwise, the cabin is snug and super-quiet.
Suspension: “Us Aussies” often complain about rigid Euro-style suspensions, which even in some luxury saloons can be a tad jarring over surface imperfections.
However, the A6’s new platform and suspension set-up handles most of Australia’s cruddy roads quite well, and is aided by the standard wheel-and-tyre package of 17-inch alloys wrapped in ‘balloony’ 225/55 tyres.
Stepping up to the optional 18s or 19s would undoubtedly have an adverse effect on ride-quality, but would likely improve the sharpness of the steering.
Braking: The pedal is typically touchy at first, but you easily adapt to its sensitivity and brake performance is excellent.
The electronic park brake is, like all of these systems, a little slow to lock on, but releases without manual switching when a gear is selected.
ANCAP rating: Five stars
Safety features: Six airbags, ABS, BA, EBD, Stability control, Electronic Differential, Active headlamps, Front/Rear Vision camera, front/rear parking sensors, tyre-pressure monitoring.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years/100,000km with roadside assist
Service costs: Service costs vary; best to speak to your Audi dealer before purchase.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Jaguar XF 2.2 Diesel ($78,900) – Stunning design, with a torquier twin-turbo engine and power put through the rear wheels. The Jaguar steers and handles a little better than the A6 and comes loaded with standard features. (see XF reviews)
BMW 520d ($80,700) – Like the Jaguar, also with a rear-drive layout and with superb handling and balance. Offering a conventional eight-speed auto makes the Beemer a better choice for the keen driver. (see 5 Series reviews)
Volvo S60 Polestar ($82,990) – A more exciting and involving steer than the Audi. With all-wheel grip, conventional auto, and a classy if slightly polarising design, it’s a bit of a sleeper. But the turbocharged six is thirsty. (see Volvo S60 reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
With a stunning fit-out and luxurious cabin, plus a competent entry-level diesel, Audi’s A6 2.0 TDI is another solid entry in the premium sedan segment.
It is certainly a handsome car and has the restrained style that commands respect in the street; but the CVT and staid dynamics dent its appeal a little.
If elegant style and comfort is important, have a look at the A6 2.0 TDI. But if it’s a more lively drive and sharp handling you’re looking for, there are others in the segment that better the Audi.
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