What is it?
Hot on the heels of the recently launched high-efficiency ‘ultra’ variants of Audi’s 5-series rivalling A6 is this, the facelifted version.
As well as encompassing the revamped engine line-up, the latest iteration of Audi’s luxury saloon benefits from myriad tweaks. The styling has been revised, with changes made to the lights, grille, bumpers, air intakes, sills and exhausts. The alterations result in a look that echoes the high-performance S6 and imperious A8, granting the A6 a much more muscular look.
Inside, upgrades including acoustically damped front and side glass, quad-zone climate and new trims, which improve the already upmarket cabin further.
There have been equipment changes too; Bi-Xenon lights are now standard on entry-level SE models, while S line versions and above get LED headlights with ‘sweeping’ rear indicators. Standard kit remains otherwise adequate, and includes keyless start, heated electric mirrors and Audi’s media and drive select systems.
Opting for an S line version, as tested here, adds 18-inch wheels, sports seats, leather trim, an S line bodykit and all-LED headlights. Avant versions also feature new lightweight composite springs as standard.
What's it like?
Previously the 2.0-litre TDI S tronic S line would have averaged 61.4mpg and emitted 119g/km of CO2. Now, however, it returns 64.2mpg and 115g/km – thanks to a coasting mode for the transmission and a revised stop-start system.
VED and the company car tax band remains unchanged at £30 and 19 per cent respectively, though, compared to its predecessor; those in the 40 per cent tax band will consequently pay £240 a month in company car tax for the A6. The similar BMW 520d Touring, in paddle-shifted automatic SE specification, will cost a lesser £228 a month.
Pocket the £2450 premium for S line trim and that monthly premium falls to £212, in part because of a 1g/km drop in CO2 emissions – the result of one-inch smaller wheels – that knocks the Audi into a lower tax band.
A 2.0-litre diesel, with a focus on economy, might not sound like a great option in an estate with a kerb weight of 1800kg, but fortunately the Audi’s quiet, smooth engine produces a stout 295lb ft between 1750-3000rpm – and 188bhp between 3800-4200rpm. This grants the Avant adequately swift performance, with Audi claiming a 0-62mph time of 8.5sec and a top speed of 140mph.
The seven-speed dual-clutch transmission remains an impressively swift-acting gearbox. Torque steer is pleasingly minimal in the dry, and traction plentiful, so for the most part the A6 refrains from descending into a cesspit of front-driven scrabblery. Occasionally the transmission can skip to too high a gear at too low an engine speed, in an effort to eke out maximum efficiency, which causes a slight drone – but not a particularly intrusive one.
Even in S line specification, the Audi’s ride is pleasingly damped and well controlled, with minimal body roll in corners and none of the harshness you might expect. Predictably the A6 lags behind a little on the involvement front compared to a BMW 5-series, but its steering is precise, its brakes strong and front-end grip is high.