What’s Hot: New engine and gearbox, sublime cabin comfort.
What’s Not: FWD-only, it's not as sharp as its Quattro siblings, wheelspin in the wet.
X-FACTOR: More than just a facelift, the updated A6 base model is surprisingly potent, comfortable and sips fuel like a miser.
Vehicle Style: Large prestige sedan
Price: $79,900 (plus on-roads), $85,700 as-tested
Engine/trans: 140kW/320Nm 1.8 turbo petrol 4cyl | 7spd dual-clutch auto
Fuel Economy claimed: 5.7 l/100km | tested: 6.8 l/100km
Besides some rhinoplasty and a butt-lift for the 2015 model year, Audi’s A6 sedan range was also given a fairly significant mechanical revision at the bottom end of its price spectrum.
The old 2.0 TFSI turbo petrol engine was deleted and replaced with a new 1.8 litre turbo.
This brought with it a modest increase in power (by 8kW) and a more sophisticated seven-speed twin-clutch auto (rather than the rubbery CVT of the 2.0 TFSI).
So while the badge is numerically 'inferior' to the outgoing model, the 2015 A6 1.8 TFSI should be an easier car to live with. Then again, thanks to a $2000 price rise it had better be.
We borrowed one for a week-long stint behind the wheel. Is the 1.8 TFSI proof that less is more?
- Standard features: cruise control, power-adjustable front seats, dusk-sensing xenon headlamps , rain-sensing wipers, climate control, trip computer, keyless entry and ignition.
- Infotainment: 8-inch colour LCD main display, full-colour in-dash LCD display, MMI control interface with touchpad input, voice controls, AM/FM/DAB tuner, 10GB on-board music storage, dual USB audio inputs.
- Luggage space: 530 litres minimum, 995 litres maximum
Much of the cabin furniture is the same, but, despite its years, the A6 still has one of the more aesthetically appealing interiors in its segment.
It’s been given a mild refresh thanks to a new high-res 'Driver Information System' display (DIS), a full-colour screen that’s nestled between the speedo and tacho.
Able to display trip computer info, phone book entries and multimedia playlists on multiple pages, the DIS can also show the sat-nav display - an ergonomic advantage given it presents the information directly in front of the driver.
That also means your passenger can fiddle with the infotainment display to their heart’s content without interrupting your view of the map.
Depending on your choice of passenger, that can be either advantageous, or a terrible handicap.
As for the rest of the interior, there’s ample space and comfort.
The standard seats are comfortable and feature electric adjustment for front occupants (memory settings for the driver too), and the Milano leather looks and feels great.
The standard satin silver dash and centre console trim look rather plain though, and while more premium-looking alternatives are available they’ll set you back at least $600.
The rear seat is plenty roomy for a pair of adults, and the quad-zone climate control on our tester (part of the optional Technik package) ensures the thermal comfort of both of them.
Also included in the Technik package is a subscription to the Audi Connect system, which brings online Google searches for destinations and live traffic data (which is displayed on the map and factored into your travel time calculations), among other features.
ON THE ROAD
- 140kW/320Nm 1.8 litre turbo petrol inline four
- Seven-speed twin-clutch automatic, front-wheel drive
- 0-100km/h: 7.9 seconds
- Double-wishbone front, multi-link rear suspension
- Disc brakes all around, electromechanical power steering.
Lined up against the 2.0 litre turbo and CVT gearbox of its predecessor, the 2015 A6 1.8 TFSI is a far more pleasing car to drive.
Unlike the indecisive (sometimes frustratingly so) Multitronic, the S tronic makes far more intelligent gear selections and rarely needs to be put in manual mode.
The 1.8 litre TFSI jewel under the bonnet is also surprisingly potent.
Though it may only displace 1.8 litres (even milk comes in larger quantities!), this engine makes a stout 140kW and 320Nm thanks to turbocharging and direct injection.
Peak torque is spread between 1400rpm and 4100rpm and peak power is on tap from 4200rpm right up to 6200rpm.
That means few situations where the engine is out of its comfort zone. As a consequence, tractability - it's ability to pull when asked, whatever the revs - is outstanding.
But traction, now that’s another thing. As the only FWD model in the A6 lineup, the 1.8 TFSI has half the number of driven wheels as any other A6.
Combine that with an engine that’s fairly powerful for its size, a 1.6-tonne kerb weight and some wet, wet weather (such as that commonly endured along the east coast in the past month), and the 1.8 TFSI becomes prone to wheelspin.
So, be gentle with the accelerator when it’s wet.
Thankfully that’s the only real driveability complaint. The twin-clutch S tronic seven-speed automatic is worlds apart from the Multitronic CVT it replaces, and functions well in everything bar heavy stop-start traffic.
The steering is light and doesn’t suffer from torque steer, and the comfort-oriented suspension tune behaves well on a multitude of surfaces.
It’s not a dynamic masterpiece though - few Audis are - and being FWD in a segment populated almost entirely by RWD rivals can be seen by some as a handicap.
ANCAP rating: 5-Stars - this model scored 34.91 out of 37 possible points.
Safety features: ABS, EBD, brake assist, traction control, stability control are all standard, along with blind spot monitoring and rear collision alert.
Passenger protection is provided by six airbags - front, front side and full-length curtain.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
There is no shortage of large luxury sedans to choose from, and if you’re prepared to deviate from the German options then the A6 is far from the cheapest way to get into this segment.
If you’re buying on value, we’d suggest also looking at the Lexus GS 250 and Jaguar XF 2.0.
If FWD doesn’t faze you, then the Lexus ES 350 is even better value for money.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
The A6’s late-life facelift has been most kind to its entry-level model, at least as far as mechanical upgrades are concerned.
The new engine and gearbox combo is superb, and the slight specification upgrade is more than welcome too.
Not much else has changed about the A6 experience, but it will comfortably fulfil the wants and needs of most luxury sedan buyers.
There are, however, better value and better-handling options out there.