Versatility is at the heart of the all-new Audi A6 executive saloon. As an A6, the company says, this car simultaneously needs to purvey outstanding comfort for an old-school core of white-collared Europeans and be a ‘sporty sedan’ for the Americans.
The colossal Chinese market also sees it as a technological status symbol, and so its fight is on three fronts, two of which are already heavily fortified by the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class.
At its core sits a more rigid hybrid aluminium chassis with suspension of five-link design attached to a rigid front and hydraulically mounted rear subframes. Traditional springs are available with either passive or adaptive dampers, but there’s also a pneumatic set-up that lowers the body by 20mm, then drops it by a further 10mm above 75mph in order to improve the car’s aero characteristics.
Substantial changes have also been made to way this car steers, more on which in a moment.
Understanding the Audi A6 line-up
Until Audi Sport serves up the inevitable S6 and RS6 firecrackers, the engine line-up is headed by the 3.0 V6 TFSI driven here. As is de rigueur, it houses its turbochargers within the 90deg vee, and the exhaust manifold melds into the cylinder head for a quicker warm-up sequence. It’s mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox that’s also found in the predicted best seller: a 2.0-litre 40 TDI model with 204bhp.
At launch, there will also be a 3.0 V6 TDI with 280bhp and a new entry-level diesel V6 in the form of the 45 TDI. Both models use a regular eight-speed automatic gearbox and also feature a self-locking centre differential.
Those S tronic cars with twin clutches, meanwhile, are fitted with quattro ‘Ultra’ four-wheel-drive technology, which uses a clutch to distribute torque to the rear, front-wheel drive being the more economical option in everyday driving. If that doesn’t sound particularly sporty, it’s because it isn’t.
The mild hybridisation comes in the form of a 48-volt system for six-cylinder engines and a 12-volter for anything else. The idea is that a belt alternator/starter connected to the crank recovers energy under deceleration and stores it in a lithium ion battery under the boot. That same starter reawakens the engine after up to 40 seconds of dormant coasting at speeds between 34 and 99mph, and it allows start-stop to function at marginally higher speeds. For the more powerful system, the upshot is a fuel saving worth about 4mpg, claims Audi.