If the looks and powertrain choices of the Audi A6 can best be described as evolutionary, nothing less than a full-scale revolution has been visited upon the suspension. We’re not sure having selectable damping on every model is much more than a gimmick, because if you just let the car get on with it, it will supply both ride and handling like no comparable A6 before it.
Almost all the time, the ride is genuinely very good – not Mercedes good, perhaps, but competitive in a class of unusually fine-riding cars. Our experience of A6s on air springs suggests that the steel set-up might be preferable, because it provides impressive body control on most surfaces while dealing with the low-speed urban bumps that so often confound air systems.
Here is a large, base-spec, front-drive Audi saloon with grip, balance and poise, a car you might choose to drive with some spirit down a decent road. What it lacks is the fluidity of steering response that you find in its best rear-drive rivals. It has a slightly numb feel as you go off centre, which doubtless does wonders for autobahn stability but drives a wedge between the car and a driver wishing to feel in touch with its operation.
The S-line quattro models ride motorway expansion joints noisily and fidget over minor surface imperfections that equally focused rivals might have ironed out. The trade-off, however, is commendable body control and handling composure on testing roads. Wider tracks front and rear and Audi’s latest quattro drivetrain (equipped with that fast-acting crown gear centre differential) give the new A6 deep reserves of traction and handling precision.