Audis tend to be defined by their interiors and that’s the case with the Audi A6.

Indeed, it was Audi’s realisation around 20 years ago that this is where the vast bulk of an owner’s perception of quality lies (and producing a series of world-class cabins as a result) that helped to create the enviable reputation for style and luxury that it enjoys today.

The cabin is so good, it could tempt some buyers away from the more expensive A8

The A6 builds further on these standards. In the class, it is second to none in terms of the calibre of materials used, where you can see and might commonly touch them, and also where you won’t.

The A6 saloon also offers enough cabin space for models at the top of the range to pose a serious threat to the entry-level and not notably roomy A8, which may not have been what was intended. In even saloon form it also has a bigger boot than the A8. The Avant's boot space lags behind the class-leading Mercedes E-Class's, but is big enough for most people's typical needs.

But for two separate and distinct reasons, it is held back from achieving the kind of rating you might expect any Audi to be capable of earning.

First, although the cabin is genuinely attractive, ergonomically it is remarkably similar to the old A6, and the game has moved on. Audi’s MMI control system once represented the state of the art, but now Mercedes has at least caught up and BMW’s iDrive is clearly ahead. The graphics now look rather last generation, even if (commendably) the navigation system itself is standard, and the facelift brought about the inclusion of smartphone integration.

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Moreover, you have only to look inside an E-Class to know what a sense of occasion can now be achieved in this class. Svelte and stylish though the A6 cabin is, it feels one stop short of true luxury.

The second problem is more serious and concerns the pedals of the manual car. They are offset so far to the right that the clutch pedal is directly beneath the steering column. Some drivers will never notice it, but others will resent this fault daily. 

All important with any executive saloon is the equipment fitted as standard. There are three trims to choose from with the entry-level SE Executive coming equipped with bi-xenon headlights, 17in alloys, cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, and auto lights and wipers. Inside occupants are treated to four-zone climate control, acoustic glazed windows, leather upholstery, Bluetooth and multimedia interface and DAB radio.

Upgrade to the mid-level S-line models and you'll find sporty details added to the A6 including firmer suspension, a rear diffuser and sports front seats, while there is also classy additions such as LED headlights, and a Valcona leather and Alcantara interior. The range-topping Black Edition trim adds gloss black details to the exterior, larger alloys and a Bose sound system to the package.

If you opt for one of the monstrous Audi Sport A6 models, then expect a dedicated trim level to go along with the 4.0-litre V8 TFSI engine. The S6 comes with a wealth of technology including cylinder deactivation technology and active noise cancellation from the engine bay, air suspension and Audi's quattro system fitted with a sports differential. Inside there is a pair of super sports seats with heating function and the optional lighting pack fitted as standard.

The RS6 and RS6 Performance get a beefy bodykit giving the Avant a very aggressive stance and some RS adaptations to the suspension, four-wheel drive and braking systems. The main differences are the RS6 Performance come with 21in alloys, rather than the RS6's 20's and the style of the seating, as well as the difference in power.