2012 AUDI A6 REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Large luxury sedan
Price: $116,500 (plus on-roads), $128,245 as-tested
Fuel Economy (claimed): 6.0 l/100km
Fuel Economy (tested): 10.0 l/100km
Audi’s new A6 range is less than a year old in the Australian market, and it still feels fresh.
The chassis is a clean-sheet design that’s lighter than its all-steel predecessor thanks to the use of aluminium alloy.
Meanwhile the interior boasts one of the best designs in the segment and there’s plenty of room for passengers and luggage alike.
In turbodiesel V6 guise, the A6’s driving experience is also impressive - but perhaps not quite as exciting as some of its rivals.
Quality: The quality of materials is very high, with supple leather, soft-touch plastics and fine woodgrain trim on the centre console and dashboard.
Every hatch and door opens and shuts smoothly and solidly, however some of the MMI buttons on the centre console feel plasticky and out of context in an otherwise premium space - the creaky ‘Back’ button in particular.
Comfort: Big seats, plenty of space and good ergonomics mean one thing: the A6 is one comfy chariot.
Both front seats are electrically-adjustable and give plenty of support, and there’s a huge range of adjustment to the steering column. Outward vision is also good, and the instrument panel is clearly laid out.
Compared to the previous-generation model, the current A6 sits on a stretched wheelbase that improves passenger legroom. It’s bigger inside than ever before, particularly in the backseat area.
There’s a substantial transmission tunnel hump though, so adults would be best advised to stay out of the centre rear seat. Besides that, there’s plenty of sprawling space inside the A6.
Equipment: All V6-engined A6s are equipped with the S-Line package as standard, which adds a sportier body kit.
Standard equipment on the A6 3.0 TDI includes a sunroof, dual-zone climate control, cruise control, a multifunction display with trip computer, auto-on bi-xenon headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, powered front seats, sat-nav, Bluetooth integration and a Bose stereo with iPod connectivity.
Our tester was also equipped with Audi’s pedestrian-sensing night-vision system and a head-up display, which, when combined with the cost of the optional quattro sports differential and a metallic paint surcharge, took the total retail cost to $128,245.
Storage: The A6’s flat-floored boot measures in at 530 litres, and is equipped with a pair of flip-down bag hooks to secure shopping. A small netted compartment on the driver’s side also helps keep small items from rolling about.
Fold down the 60/40 split rear seatbacks and luggage capacity swells to 995 litres.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: The A6 3.0 TDI’s turbodiesel V6 is a torquey beast, pumping out 500Nm of torque from 1400rpm to 3250rpm. Peak power is a not-insubstantial 180kW, but with an unladen A6 weighing in at 1720kg, torque is the more important metric here.
Mated to a seven-speed twin-clutch automatic, the 3.0 litre diesel V6 certainly has no issue moving the hefty A6 along. Off-the-line acceleration however is blunted a little by a combination of off-idle turbo lag and typical twin-clutch slow-speed indecisiveness.
Once underway though, the V6’s torque effortlessly gets the A6 up to speed. The twin-clutch S-tronic gearbox is also happier when on the move, and gearshifts are fast, crisp and smooth. It’s a hammer on the highway and will pin your ears back when overtaking.
Manual shifting can be accomplished either by the plus-minus plane on the gear shifter or by a pair of steering-wheel mounted paddles, but we’d recommend leaving them alone - this gearbox does its best work when left to its own devices.
Refinement: Were it not for the subtle thrum of the diesel up front, the A6’s cabin would possess an almost church-like quietness.
Intrusion from road roar, suspension thumps, wind and other traffic is well suppressed. As always though, some of the coarser Australian roads can induce some tyre noise.
Suspension: The A6’s suspension is a lot softer than some of its competitors, and its extra compliance delivers a more comfortable ride around town.
It gets somewhat roly-poly through corners though, and while the quattro drivetrain produces less understeer than front-wheel drive A6s, it’s virtually impossible to provoke any kind of rear slip. Safe and competent, but not terribly exciting.
The steering also feels over-assisted, and it’s clear that Audi’s focus was on everyday liveability rather than rewarding keen drivers. Not necessarily a bad thing mind you.
Braking: Braking feel is good through the A6’s solid pedal, and the car’s all-disc, all-ventilated hardware is capable of generating significant stopping force.
As standard, all A6s are equipped with an electronic parking brake, which disengages automatically as soon as you press the accelerator when in gear.
ANCAP rating: Five stars
Safety features: Stability control, traction control, ABS, EBD, brake assist and the extra grip of quattro all-wheel-drive help keep the A6 out of the weeds. In the event of an accident, a full suite of airbags protect passengers.
The optional night vision system fitted to our car worked well at picking up pedestrians at nighttime, often well before they were actually visible through the windscreen. However it’s an expensive option at $4270.
Other optional safety features include adaptive cruise control and a blind spot monitor. Opting for both also adds Audi’s Pre Sense system, which uses radar and cameras to detect when a collision may be imminent.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years
Service costs: Service intervals are set for every 15,000km/12 months. Costs may vary, so consult your local Audi dealer before purchase.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
BMW 535d ($120,900) - The 535d boasts more power (230kW) and more torque (630Nm) than the A6.
It’s slightly more expensive spec-for-spec, but the extra performance and tauter RWD chassis of the BMW is worth the extra spend. (see 5 Series reviews)
Mercedes-Benz E350 CDI ($136,485) - In terms of output the E350 CDI sits between the A6 3.0 TDI and 535d, but has a less impressive interior than either.
It’s also substantially more expensive than either option. (see E-Class reviews)
Jaguar XF 3.0D Premium Luxury ($112,500) - The “budget” entrant in this match up is Jag’s V6 turbodiesel XF, which after a recent refresh boasts the most eye-catching exterior design of this group.
It’s got slightly less power than the Audi and identical torque, but an eight-speed conventional automatic endows it with better driveability. It’s not as gadget-laden as the A6, though the lower price of entry is the trade-off. (see XF reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Audi’s new A6 is perhaps more premium limousine than sporting saloon. It’s very swift, and a satisfying drive, but doesn’t have quite the ‘alive’ sporting feel of its most logical competitors.
The standing-start performance of the twin-clutch gearbox is also shaded by others in this premium luxury segment. The very potent diesel and DSG combination is at its best on the move.
So it depends where your priorities lie.
While rapid by any measure - there’s a mountain of torque under that long bonnet - it’s the A6 3.0 TDI’s comfort, settled on-road compliance, sumptuous leather trim, and the quiet serenity of the interior that gets the tick from us.
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