What’s Hot: Clean styling, more technology and features, 3.0 TDI is a pearler.
What’s Not: Not terribly much, if we’re honest.
X-FACTOR: Audi’s classy big four-doors have become just a little bit better. Middle-age has never looked this good.
Vehicle Style: Large prestige sedan
Price: $79,900 (A6 1.8 TFSI) - $179,900 (S7)
140kW/320Nm 1.8 turbo petrol 4cyl | 7sp auto
160kW/500Nm 3.0 turbo diesel 6cyl | 7sp auto
235kW/650Nm 3.0 twin turbo diesel 6cyl | 8sp auto
331kW/550Nm 4.0 twin turbo petrol 8cyl | 7sp auto
Fuel Economy claimed l/100km: 5.7 (1.8 TFSI), 5.1 (3.0 TDI), 6.1 (3.0 TDI Biturbo), 9.4 (S6)
The Audi A6 and A7 have had a wardrobe update to bring their look into line with the rest of the 2015 catalogue, but that’s not all that’s changed.
For one, the A6's 2.0 TFSI engine has been replaced by a 1.8 litre unit that has more power, the same amount of torque, a better gearbox and better fuel efficiency.
On top of the mechanical changes there’s also been some tweaking going on inside the cockpit, with a new infotainment system being the centrepiece.
We travelled to Victoria’s Yarra Valley to test out a selection of A6s and A7s, as well as reacquaint ourselves with the S7.
As far as mid-life facelifts go, it’s a good one.
- Cruise control, power-adjustable front seats, dusk-sensing headlamps (xenon on 1.8 TFSI, LED on all others), rain-sensing wipers, quad-zone climate control (all models beside 1.8 TFSI).
- Infotainment: 8-inch colour LCD main display, full-colour reconfigurable in-dash LCD display, MMI control interface with touchpad input, AM/FM/DAB tuner, 10GB on-board music storage, dual USB audio inputs.
Inside both the A6 and A7 is a familiar interior, with updates that are far more subtle than the all-round plastic surgery that’s been applied to the exterior.
But one thing that’s immediately obvious is the new LCD display between the tachometer and speedometer.
Now able to display a full-colour feed of the sat nav map (along with the usual trip computer/phone/audio info), there’s no longer any need for the driver to wrest control of the main infotainment screen from their passengers.
It also looks pretty slick, with satellite imagery overlays being crisply rendered by a dedicated graphics processor.
That alone should win over a few customers.
Oh, and the best news? Audi has finally given up on its proprietary external device connector, instead replacing it with a pair of USB ports in the centre console - one of which can supply enough current to charge a tablet.
Score one for common sense.
Otherwise, the rest of the interior isn’t all that different to the preceding A6 and A7.
Cabin comfort is good in both (though rear seat passengers in the A7 need to stoop a bit to get in the back), and equipment levels are healthy with all models bar the A6 1.8 TFSI getting quad-zone climate control and LED headlamps.
The A6 1.8 TFSI also misses out on lane-keep assist (standard on all other models), but every A6 and A7 features blind spot monitoring and a rear collision detector.
ON THE ROAD
- 140kW/320Nm 1.8 turbo petrol 4cyl (A6 only), 7 speed twin-clutch auto, FWD
- 160kW/500Nm 3.0 turbo diesel 6cyl, 7 speed twin-clutch auto, AWD
- 235kW/650Nm 3.0 twin turbo diesel 6cyl, 8 speed auto, AWD
- 331kW/550Nm 4.0 twin turbo petrol 8cyl, 7 speed twin-clutch auto, AWD
- Five-link front, multi-link rear suspension. Air suspension standard on S6/S7
- Ventilated disc brakes. Electromechanical power steering
Starting off in the $179,900 S7, it’s hard not to be impressed.
The 22kW bump in power for MY15 S6s and S7s brings total output to 331kW and 550Nm, yet efficiency improvements to cylinder deactivation and start-stop hardware sees fuel consumption drop to 9.3 l/100km.
And the performance is staggering, especially considering there’s no RS badge on the snout.
The S7 just grips and grips, its clever torque-shuffling quattro centre differential constantly channelling power to whichever axle can handle it best.
The steering might not be the most talkative in a sports sedan, but the S7 simply goes wherever you point it.
Amazing stuff, but it goes without saying. It is, after all, an S7.
How’s life - then - at the other end of the spectrum, in the A6 1.8 TFSI?
For one, you lose AWD in the 1.8 TFSI. It’s the only non-quattro model in the A6 line-up right now, but to be honest it could do without the extra mass anyway.
At 7.9 seconds for the 0-100km/h sprint it’s not blisteringly quick.
But while 140kW and 320Nm may not be the most exciting numbers these days, the 1.8 TFSI has no problems cruising at sensible speeds.
Yes, overtaking on highways requires more planning than in others of the range reviewed here, but the engine makes good mid-range torque and the seven-speed twin-clutch auto helps extract the best from it.
But it’s the new 3.0 litre diesel that really hits the spot.
It’s actually less powerful and less torquey than last year’s A6/A7 3.0 TDI, but at 160kW and 500Nm we don’t really miss those 20kW and 80Nm.
Rather, we’re more interested in the $8500 reduction in price, which now puts the A6 3.0 TDI just under the $100k barrier.
500Nm of torque, by the way, is huge. The S7 only makes 50Nm more, and the 3.0 TDI Biturbo’s 650Nm peak torque just seems excessive.
And it endows the 3.0 TDI with fantastic rolling acceleration.
Squeeze the throttle, wait a microsecond as the twin-clutch trans shifts down, and enjoy surfing that substantial wave of torque.
Need more reasons to put the 3.0 TDI high on your shopping list?
According to Audi, it’ll sip just 5.1 l/100km of diesel on the combined cycle - 0.6 l/100km less than the lighter, less powerful 1.8 TFSI.
ANCAP rating: 5/5 Stars - the Audi A6 scored 34.91 out of 37 possible points in ANCAP testing. The A7 has yet to be assessed by ANCAP.
Safety features: ABS, EBD, brake assist, traction control, stability control. Blind spot monitoring and rear collision alert are standard on all models, while all models beside the A6 1.8 TFSI get lane keep assist as well.
Passenger protection is provided by six airbags - front, front side and full-length curtain.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
The A6 is priced on par with its German rivals, but can’t compete when with the Lexus GS when it comes to sharp sticker prices.
For the A7, it comfortably undercuts both the CLS and the 6 Series.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
The A6 and A7 ranges now wear a sharper set of suits, and the range realignment also makes it a much sharper deal than before.
The 3.0 TDI in particular stands out as good buying. In the A6 range it’s a whisker under $100,000, and comes standard with enough gear to keep most buyers happy.
It’s superb to drive too, and is a perfect long-distance cruiser.
The 1.8 TFSI seems a bit bare by comparison, but then again so do many base models in this segment.
There is, of course, Audi’s lengthy options list to help rectify that if you’re not shy of spending a few thousand extra.
But no matter which model you look at, the updated A6 and A7 shines.
From the outside it may look like a pretty mild do-over, but there’s been enough under-the-skin changes to keep these two big Audis fresh.
- A6 1.8 TFSI - $79,900
- A6 3.0 TDI - $99,900
- A6 3.0 TDI Biturbo - $124,900
- S6 - $169,900
- Audi A7 3.0 TDI - $115,400
- Audi A7 3.0 TDI Biturbo - $144,900
- Audi S7 - $179,900