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Our Verdict

Audi A6

The Audi A6 rises higher than any model before it and is now a real contender in the mid-size exec market

13 April 2004

It’s about the toughest bit of rival striker marking you could ask a car to do. Granted, the new BMW 5-series suffers from Bangle-as-auteur styling and the irritation of iDrive, but as an executive diesel would you really bet against anything beating the 530d’s combination of brilliant dynamics and outstanding refinement?

The A6 has always been a popular diesel, the previous generation often shipping with the gruff-but-willing 130 PD, although the supposed range-topping 2.5 V6 TDi remained a minority interest. The new A6 will also get a four-pot oil-burner, this time a 140bhp 2.0-litre PD. There’s also some new interest at the top of the range with the all-new 3.0-litre V6.

The numbers certainly add up: 225bhp and 332lb ft: more than a 530d, Merc E320 CDi or the forthcoming Jaguar S-type 2.7 V6 diesel. The Audi features common-rail injection (instead of pumpe düse ‘unit injectors’), twin intercoolers and a compact turbo mounted on the ‘V’ of the cylinder banks.

Trick piezo injectors allow for ultra-accurate fuelling and up to five separate injection cycles per induction stroke, meaning smooth running and a near-total banishment of ‘tinkling noises’. Once on the move the engine tone modulates to a subdued, inoffensive, fuel-unspecific hum.

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Driving dynamics are composed. Steering weight is good and there’s a decently simulated impression of feel. Turn-in is good, grip levels strong, and the ride firm but not uncomfortable.

As a long-haul motorway express it should be outstanding, especially judged by the effortless 120mph cruise our test car managed on the track. And that’s not even mentioning the A6’s other big advantage: quattro four-wheel drive, compared to its resoundingly two-wheel-driven rivals.

Mike Duff

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