What is it?
It’s the diesel daddy of the new Audi A6 range, the 3.0-litre V6 TDI quattro, driven on UK roads for the first time. Of course, Audi reckons that three quarters of the new A6s sold in the UK will use a four-cylinder, 2.0-litre turbodiesel. But that still leaves almost one in four examples to be powered by six-pots, and the vast majority of those will be oil-burners.
The new A6’s key messages are ‘masses of tech’, ‘improved efficiency’ and ‘lighter construction’ and it certainly delivers on those counts. Toys like sat-nav come as standard and the 3.0 TDI is more powerful and 18.3 per cent more economical than before. Audi also claims the car is lighter than key rivals the BMW 530d (by 75kg) and Merc’s E350 CDI (by 115kg).
What’s it like?
First, the bad news. Those weight savings don’t exactly result in a car that demands to be flung about. The A6 never feels that agile, and the steering is precise but sterile. There are no nasty surprises here, but equally, there’s not much involvement.
Now, the good news: the improved power-to-weight ratio does make the A6 feels like a deliciously unstressed beast. Refinement is excellent, helped by an engine/gearbox combo that’s so able to do its work by 2000rpm that it’s a wonder they bothered with the rest of the rev-counter. You’ll only ever see 3000rpm during hard-pressed overtaking manoeuvres, and by that point you’ll really be shifting; the mid-range shove is deeply impressive.
Our test car had the optional adaptive air suspension, but regular 18in wheels and no sports set-up (which lowers the ride height by 20mm). Some of the worst potholes did still make it through into the cabin but then, they’d have bothered us in an E-class or 5-series too. In this spec at least, the A6 feels composed and comfortable. That’s echoed in the cabin, which feels spacious and beautifully built.
Should I buy one?
Look at it this way: it really ought to be on your shortlist. The A6 remains a car that can’t quite match a Jaguar XF or a 530d for fun. But it is more than capable of taking them on when it comes to everyday liveability, and it represents a fantastically solid buying and leasing proposition. In this area of the market, those factors may well matter more than entertainment value.
Audi A6 3.0 TDI quattro SE S-tronic
Price: £38,300; Top speed: 155mph (limited); 0-62mph: 6.1sec; Economy: 47.9mpg (combined); CO2 emissions: 156g/km; Kerb weight: 1720kg; Engine: V6, 2967cc, turbodiesel; Power: 242bhp at 4000-4500rpm; Torque: 369lb ft at 1400-3250rpm; Gearbox: 7-spd dual-clutch.