Audi has revealed the new A6 in a series of official photographs ahead next week’s 2018 Geneva motor show, where the new German luxury sedan is set to make its public debut prior to the start of Australian deliveries by the end of this year.
Sister model to the recently introduced second-generation A7, the fifth-generation A6 carries a number of key developments that Audi is banking on to drive sales against stiff premium brand competition, including a re-engineered platform, new petrol and diesel engines featuring mild hybrid functions together with a chassis featuring four-wheel steer and an advanced electric architecture supporting a wide range of LTE supported connectivity functions.
The BMW 5-series and Mercedes-Benz E-class rival also receives a contemporary interior layout featuring new high-definition displays and touch screen controls along with an advanced speech recognition system allowing conversational commands and the latest in real time navigation from HERE – a former Nokia-owned mapping specialist now controlled in a joint venture between Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz parent company, Daimler.
The new 2018-model-year A6 adopts the latest Audi design lineage first unveiled on the Audi Prologue concept car at the 2015 Los Angeles motor show. Elements central to its freshened appearance include a heavily structured grille and front bumper in a distinctive front end that shares clear similarities with the larger and more luxurious fourth-generation A8 launched late last year.
A new look grille, which is used to house both laser and radar scanners as part of a range of new semi-autonomous driver assistance functions on top-of-the-line models, is bookmarked by angular headlights sporting distinctive LED graphics in one of three designs, which taper back within the leading part of the front fenders.
Further back, the new A6 adopts more pronounced wheel arch blisters featuring distinctive feature lines for added emphasis front and rear, deeply sculpted doors, a longer six-window glasshouse and slimmer C-pillar treatment.
At the rear, Audi has provided its latest model with a more pronounced boot and prominent LED tail lamps that are intersected by a chrome trim element that aims to provide the A6 with added visual width.
Audi will offer the new A6 with an optional S line styling package from the outset of Australian sales. It features a high-gloss-black treatment on the grille insert, front air ducts, sills and rear diffuser.
In line with its key luxury class rivals, the new A6 is claimed to feature improved aerodynamics with at least one upcoming model said to boast a drag co-efficient of 0.24. Audi claims vastly improved aeroacoustic qualities with more serene cruising attributes and less high-speed wind buffeting than with the old model.
Body rigidity is also said to have been improved through the adoption of a new construction process which, among other developments, sees the front suspension strut towers, fenders, doors, roof and boot lid made of aluminium.
Dimensionally, the new Audi has grown, albeit only incrementally. Length is up by 7mm to 4940mm, width increases by 14mm to 1888mm and height extends by 3mm to 1458mm. The adoption of the latest evolution of Audi’s MLB (Modularen Langsbau – modular longitudinal architecture) platform has also brought about a 12mm lengthening of the wheelbase at 2924mm.
Together with the new fifth-generation A6 sedan model to be unveiled to the public at the Geneva motor show, Audi is also developing a successor to the A6 Avant, although the new wagon variant is not expected to be unveiled until the second half of 2018.
As with the exterior, the interior of the 2018-model-year A6 has been comprehensively redesigned. The newly styled dashboard and various interior elements are shared with the recently introduced second-generation A7, alongside which the new model will be produced at Audi’s Neckarsulm factory in Germany.
As with the A7, there is a 12.3-inch digital instrument display combined with a 10.1-inch Multi-Media Infotainment (MMI) display integrated within the centre of the dashboard facia and an 8.6-inch display unit mounted lower down at the base of the centre console – the latter two offering standard touch control, with haptic and acoustic feedback qualities.
The standard Multi-Media Infotainment (MMI) system includes navigation features, although buyers can order the new A6 with a more advanced Multi-Media Infotainment Plus (MMI Plus) system with LTE connectivity.
The adoption of touch-sensitive displays for all the major functions provides the dashboard with a clean and uncluttered look largely devoid of traditional controls. The stubby gear lever, meanwhile, is designed to allow the driver to rest their wrist on the horizontal handle to ease the touch operation of the air conditioning and other functions within the lower display, according to Audi.
Audi says the adoption of a longer wheelbase has led to a 21mm increase in overall cabin length for the new A6. In turn, this attributes to an 11mm increase in rear seat legroom. The increase in width has also led to a respective 7mm and 11mm increase in shoulder and elbow room both in the front and at the rear compared to the old model.
Although the shape of the boot has been reworked to provide greater loading width, its capacity remains the same as before at a nominal 530 litres.
Predictably, the latest A6 adopts many of the driver assistant system already brought to the latest A7, although most are optional. They are controlled by a new central computing model that goes under the new zFAS (an acronym of the German words central driver assistance controller).
Three driver assistant packages will be available from the start of sales later this year. A Parking package adds both the parking pilot and garage pilot system, which help manoeuvre the new Audi into and out of parking spaces, either with the driver in the car or remotely with the driver outside the car. Additionally, a City package brings a new crossing assist that can autonomously brake the car when it detects cross traffic and pedestrians may contribute to a collision. A Tour package adds adaptive cruise assist – a supplement to the adaptive cruise control with Level 2 autonomous steering intervention to keep the car in the lane for periods up to 30sec.
The new A6 will be sold with the choice of one turbocharged petrol and two turbocharged diesel engines from the start of sales. All engines are supported by a mild-hybrid system that uses a belt-driven alternator and lithium-ion battery to recuperate and stow kinetic energy for fuel savings of up to 0.7L/100km compared to the non-hybrid engines used by the old A6, according to Audi.
In four-cylinder models the mild-hybrid system operates with a 12-volt electrical architecture, while six-cylinder models receive a more advanced 48-volt set-up.
The initial line-up starts with the front-wheel drive A6 40TDI and four-wheel drive A6 45TDI quattro. Both receive the latest evolution of the Volkswagen Group’s 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engine complete with SCR exhaust gas filter, developing 150kW and 400Nm of torque in the former and 170kW and 500Nm in the latter.
Further up is the four-wheel drive A6 50 TDI quattro. It runs Audi’s controversial 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine currently at the centre of a despite with the German Transport Ministry due to suspect software claimed to manipulate emissions, with 210kW and 610Nm.
Also planned from the outset of sales in Europe is the four-wheel drive A6 55 TFSI quattro. It uses a newly developed turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine developed in an engineering partnership between Audi and Porsche. The replacement for the earlier supercharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine used in the old A6 delivers 250kW and 500Nm.
Oddly given Audi’s recent pledge to deliver a wider range of plug-in hybrid models, the new A6 initially does without either a rechargeable petrol-electric driveline. However, Ingolstadt insiders say plans exist for such a model and hint its launch is likely to place at the upcoming Beijing motor show in April, where the new Audi will be revealed in long-wheelbase guise for sale exclusively for the Chinese market.
The new A6’s 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel and 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine are mated to a standard seven-speed dual clutch gearbox, while the 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine comes paired to a standard eight-speed torque converter equipped automatic with a Tiptronic function allowing manual shifts either via the gear lever or steering wheel-mounted paddles.
Reflecting its entry-level status, the 2.0-litre four-cylinder model will be sold as standard in front-wheel drive guise, with the 3.0-litre V6 petrol and diesel models receiving standard quattro four-wheel drive.
Among the functions brought on by the adoption of the mild-hybrid system in all new A6 models is a coast function that idles the engine when the driver lifts off the accelerator at speeds between 55 and 160km/h. The start-stop function has also been upgraded and now operates between 7 and 22km/h – idling the engine before the car has even come to a standstill and then restarting the engine when the vehicle in front starts moving or when the driver nudges the accelerator.
Underpinning Audi’s new luxury class contender is a newly developed suspension shared with the A7. It comes in four different set-ups depending on the model: steel springs and fixed rate damping, a 20mm lower arrangement with steel springs and fixed rate dampers, steel springs with adjustable dampers and, for top-of-the-line models, an adaptive air spring set-up with constantly variable dampers. Buyers can choose from a number of different wheel and tyres ranging from 17-inches in diameter on the base A6 40TDI to an optional 21-inch.
New to the A6 is an optional four-wheel steering system – dynamic all-wheel steering, as Audi prefers to call it. Already adopted by the A7, it turns the rear wheels in an opposite direction to those at the front at low speeds for added manoeuvrability and a claimed 11.1 metre turning circle in city driving. At higher speeds, the rear wheels are operated in parallel to those up front for added stability and enhanced highway cruising attributes.