From £30,340
Entry-level exec is a class act with great credentials, but lacks dynamic edge

Our Verdict

Audi A6
The Audi A6 is a car that delivers in every area

The Audi A6 rises higher than any model before it and is now a real contender in the mid-size exec market

What is it?

Audi’s entry-level, front-driven diesel version of the new A6 executive saloon. This car is predicted to account for seventy-five per cent of all A6 sales in the UK, and entry-level ‘SE’ specification sixty per cent of that seventy-five. Which means that, even more than the 3.0-litre TDi S Line example reviewed last week, the performance of this car really matters.

Powered by a 175bhp, 280lb ft four-cylinder diesel engine, this car will be offered only with a six-speed manual gearbox from launch, although a ‘Multitronic’ CVT version will come later.

Suspended by a double-wishbone apeing ‘five-link’ chassis at the front, and a more conventional multilink arrangement at the rear, the basic A6 rides on steel springs and conventional passive dampers. S Line specification brings firmer chassis settings, bigger alloy wheels, enhanced specification, meatier steering feel and more purposeful styling inside and out, at a £2350 premium. And although air suspension and quattro four-wheel drive are offered as options higher up in the A6 range, they’re not available here.

See pics of the Audi A6 2.0 TDI SE in action

What’s it like?

With volume-defining fleet popularity set as top priority, Audi placed unswerving focus on improving this version of the A6 in particular in practical and value-enhancing ways. As a result, this A6 is the lightest and most aerodynamically efficient car in its class, as well as the most economical. Its carbon emissions equal those of BMW’s 520d, and thanks to class-leading residual values, its cost as a company car via monthly contract hire should be even lower than the BMW’s.

Standard equipment levels on the cheapest A6 are generous too, including leather upholstery, cruise and climate control, parking sensors all round, SD-based sat nav, Bluetooth ‘phone preparation and automatic headlights and wipers.

During everyday use, the A6’s distinguishing characteristics complement each other perfectly. Excellent mechanical refinement and cabin isolation combine with a superbly comfortable and immaculately appointed interior to make this Audi feel a cut above its rivals on sheer quality. The car’s cockpit is richer and more upmarket than that of a 5-series, more contemporary than that of an E-class, and more robust and expensive than that of a XF. An E-class probably grants marginally more headroom in the rear, but not much.

Whether you’re driving or a passenger, this A6 is a genuinely comfortable, relaxing and unintrusive way to travel. A well-insulated chassis with plenty of wheel travel gives the cheapest A6 a compliant, gently wafting ride even on steel springs. At times it lacks a little vertical body control, but most of the time provides ride comfort that’s well above average.

An abundance of electromechanical power assistance for the car’s steering contributes to the A6’s easy-to-drive character. However, it also neatly encapsulates the car’s major shortcoming. An almost total lack of feedback and natural road feel through the steering wheel rim seems to symbolise a wider failure, throughout this entry-level Audi, to make the driver feel at all involved in the driving experience, on connected to the road.

While, by contrast, a BMW 520d has a surprisingly agile dynamic character and fairly deep reserves of grip and body composure when you stretch it, the A6 is hiding absolutely nothing. It’s an almost entirely one-dimensional device.

Should I buy one?

Depends whether you’re interested in a car or simply a very smart, efficient and well-mannered business conveyace.

This car’s lack of dynamic depth won’t trouble the many thousands of managers who’ll put many more thousands of miles under the wheels of their new A6s every month, and who’ll value them for their quiet, understated professionalism. Audi’s achievement with this entry-level A6 is in delivering efficiency and value without compromising quality or refinement - and it’s a significant achievement, for sure.

Unfortunately though, with this particular A6, Audi hasn’t delivered much to interest those of us who still enjoy our driving.

Audi A6 2.0 TDi SE

Price: £30,145; Top speed: 141mph; 0-62mph: 8.7sec; Economy: 57.7mpg; CO2: 129g/km; Kerbweight: 1715kg; Engine: 4 cyls in line, 1968cc, turbodiesel; Installation: Front, longitudinal, front-wheel drive; Power: 175bhp at 4200rpm; Torque: 280lb ft at 1750-2500rpm; Gearbox: 6-speed manual

Join the debate

Comments
40

3 February 2011

Despite the advances further up the Audi range, it appears to be business as usual for the lower spec. That said, it seems increasingly to me that this is what the average driving public want, genuine drivers are becoming fewer and further between.

Mind you, if I were sitting predominantly in rush hour traffic jams on our increasingly deteriorating roads may be this is what I'd want too.

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

3 February 2011

It wont be a huge seller until Audi launch their usual ridiculously low rate subsidised business contract hire deal on the 2.0 litre as they have done several times in the past, then the factory will sell out for 9 months, then they'll stop the deal as they can't supply, then sales will stop, then the offer will come along again etc etc...

3 February 2011

[quote TegTypeR]

...That said, it seems increasingly to me that this is what the average driving public want, genuine drivers are becoming fewer and further between.

Mind you, if I were sitting predominantly in rush hour traffic jams on our increasingly deteriorating roads may be this is what I'd want too.[/quote]

You've hit the nail on the head.

As much as I like driving a car with great dynamic abilities, i.e great handling, steering, engine/gearbox combo etc (and I do), fact is I spend 95% of my driving in urban areas, chocked full of traffic, potholes, speedhumps, speed cameras, and generally very low level speed limits (and invariably stuck behind a dilapidated Nissan Micra), this A6 with its lovely interior, fine ride and excellent refinement sounds just the ticket.................but I'd still take the 5-seires over it, because it too can tick all those boxes and be more fun when the (rare) opportunity arises to give it some stick.

3 February 2011

[quote TegTypeR]Mind you, if I were sitting predominantly in rush hour traffic jams on our increasingly deteriorating roads may be this is what I'd want too[/quote]

I am sure you are right, but if that were me, and i wanted a nice place to sit, comfy seats, and comfort orientated suspension a Citroen C5 on Hydropneumatic suspension would be top on my list.

3 February 2011

[quote artill]I am sure you are right, but if that were me, and i wanted a nice place to sit, comfy seats, and comfort orientated suspension a Citroen C5 on Hydropneumatic suspension would be top on my list.[/quote]

Very true but what you have said indicates you know your cars. This sort of Audi is predominantly bought by people who don't know cars but know about image.

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

3 February 2011

[quote artill]

[quote TegTypeR]Mind you, if I were sitting predominantly in rush hour traffic jams on our increasingly deteriorating roads may be this is what I'd want too[/quote]

I am sure you are right, but if that were me, and i wanted a nice place to sit, comfy seats, and comfort orientated suspension a Citroen C5 on Hydropneumatic suspension would be top on my list.

[/quote]

I really like the C5. I think it's one of the best looking saloons on the market and is decenly built and refined.

But to be fair to the A6, aside from the fact that is bigger and roomier than the C5 (the A4 is the comparable Audi to the C5), it is in a different league to the C5 in terms of overall refinement, comfort, build, quality of materials and ergonomics. So, choosing it would be more than a case mere badge snobbery.

But, like you, if I couldn't stretch to a 5-series (and I can't, sniff, sniff) I'd go for some thing like the C5 too. As I said, It looks better than the Audi and it's miles better value too.

3 February 2011

[quote Overdrive]But to be fair to the A6, aside from the fact that is bigger and roomier than the C5 (the A4 is the comparable Audi to the C5), it is in a different league to the C5 in terms of overall refinement, comfort, build, quality of materials and ergonomics. So, choosing it would be more than a case mere badge snobbery.[/quote] which A6? The old one is absolutely NOT in a different league of comfort to the C5, though it does feel much roomier, particularly in the back, and better thought out inside. I also dispute the old (not to mention vague and subjective) chestnut about build quality. The switches, plastics and upholstery Citroen chose were an easy match for anything in e.g. the last 5-Series, so are you sure? Reviews of today's mainstream cars are pointing to the fact there is less and less difference in how 'tactile' the materials are compared to their premium equivalents.

3 February 2011

Wouldn't even consider choosing a manual gearbox for this car (as it's no fun to drive, why not make the car do the work), but a CVT auto simply isn't good enough. This alone would put me off.

Pye

3 February 2011

Inside good - outside bad. Ideal for undercover security people who want to blend in to a crowd, but need a nice place to sit whilst on surveillance jobs..............................

3 February 2011

[quote Overdrive]t is in a different league to the C5 in terms of overall refinement, comfort, build, quality of materials and ergonomics.[/quote] Whilst I and many others think that Audi make the best designed interiors, apart from in hugely expensive cars, and have desirable styling their dynamics are no better than mainstream cars. If you chose a C5 as an alternative with the exclusive trim you would have an extremely quiet car with double glazed windows and a suspension system providing comfort unmatched by anything else under £50k.

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