From £30,340
Rough and smooth Audi

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

14 September 2004

Yes, the 4.2-litre V8 version of the new Audi A6 has the same thunking low-speed ride as the rest of the range. And, yes, the steering and brake feel is as numb as an Eskimo’s nose. But rather than just provide 350 words of Audi-bashing, I want to dwell on this £43,025 executive saloon’s strengths, because I rather liked it.

I liked it not just because of the formidable cabin quality, but also because, once you accept that the ride leaves something to be desired, it’s good to drive.

The engine and six-speed gearbox aid and abet this, of course. They’re a masterful combo, giving a wonderfully linear response and sending this 1745kg car to 62mph in 6.1sec. Likewise, the ’box is a delight, slicing through its well-judged ratios without a murmur.

While the A6 does feel clumsy at low speeds, show it a high-speed corner and the pay-off for that lumpy ride becomes clear: excellent high-speed stability and body control. The four-wheel-drive chassis is admirably neutral, too. Even though you don’t feel much of what is going on, it devours B-roads at speeds a similarly engined Mercedes E-class couldn’t get close to touching.

The rest of the A6 plays to the Audi’s strengths, but they’re strengths other manufacturers would kill for. It’s becoming a cliché to mention how good Audi’s cabins are, but this one tramples the competition yet again. Not just for quality, either, but also for commodious rear accommodation and the enormous boot.

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With the new BMW 5-series not the dominant force its predecessor was, and the Merc E-class and Jaguar S-type also mildly flawed, the Audi A6 gains greater appeal, even with its dynamic deficiencies. This 4.2-litre version is unlikely to be at the vanguard of sales, but if you are looking for a V8-engined executive saloon, give it some houseroom.

Chas Hallett

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