The roots of the Audi A6 can be traced to 1968 and the original Audi 100, then launched as a flagship rather than a mid-range model. That name endured through four distinct generations for 26 years.
It was replaced in 1994 by the first A6, although this was simply to bring the car into line with Audi’s newly adopted naming policy; the car itself was no more than a facelifted 100. The car you see here is the fourth generation of A6.
It has a lot to prove, too. We’ve been driving cars bearing this badge for many years and, low-volume esoteric spin-offs aside, haven't previously driven one we even really liked, let alone one that got anywhere near rival offerings from Mercedes-Benz and BMW.
Audi says this one is different, and points to its impressive on-paper statistics, steel and aluminium hybrid construction and imposing new looks to support its case. But some things never change: unlike its best rivals, the base A6 remains chiefly front-wheel drive, a configuration that has yet to provide a car from any manufacturer with the blend of ride and handling that the best rear-drivers appear able to offer year in, year out.