From £44,590
Has Audi’s latest exec challenger raised its game as a sporting choice or all-rounder? We found out with back-to-back stints in a saloon and estate

Why we ran it: To see if Audi has finally made an executive car with the broad appeal needed to truly challenge the class best

Month 6 - Month 5Month 4Month 3Month 2Month 1 - Prices & Specs

Audi a6 avant swap

Life with an Audi A6 Avant: Month 6

Six months, two A6 bodystyles and one impressed driver. But, in the executive car class, is very good, good enough? - 29th May 2019

Fine margins. That’s what counts in an Audi A6. Before we’ve even sat in one, we know it’s going to be good: refinement will be high, inside and out; the driving experience will be smooth and comfortable; the car will be brimming with safety tech; and it is likely to be highly efficient on fuel. Great. But beyond this admirable premise, the little things matter – because expectations rocket when you live in the German-badged ‘premium’ realm. At these prices, great is not good enough: an A6 has to be outstanding.

That’s a daunting target, particularly when you consider the model’s position in the Audi saloon range. The Audi A4 makes sense: common denominator mid-sized family car appealing to the mass market. The Audi A5? That’s the sporty one. As for the vast Audi A8, here’s the full limo experience, whether you’re driving or sitting in the back. But in the middle of them the A6 has to please across all genres. The ‘broad appeal’ specified in our brief is in its DNA: user-friendly for families, bringing a touch of luxury, while naturally also offering high performance.

So does Audi live by the same fine margins so often found in rarefied rivals from BMW and Mercedes-Benz? That was our task to discover. Six months, split in half by two different specs. Here, we concentrate mainly on the Avant estate, but we began with the attractive and faintly muscular quattro saloon.

It would prove a tough act to follow, thanks to its top-of-the-range ‘50’ spec and an obscene list of options that added more than £20,000 to the already significant £49,270 price. Finished in Daytona grey, the car looked smart sitting on 5-V-spoke two-tone alloys, while inside it felt like a spaceship (more foreboding Galactic Empire rather than knockabout Rebel Alliance, in Star Wars-speak). The dark, luxurious finish contrasted against stark polished metal, while at night pin lights colour-coded to your particular driving mode only enhanced the Death Star vibe.

The daily 80-mile commute was rarely a chore with 3.0-litre V6 power and optioned air suspension. That and the all-wheel steering were keepers for speccing in the ‘real world’. Three months passed in a happy blur.

At the swap-over in mid-January, the Audi A6 Avant – resplendent in glacier white – contrasted and complemented in equal measure. Estate cars are great, in my book, and much more appealing than a bulky SUV. In this case, the spec was lower than the saloon, which meant a slight perceived diminishing of interior materials (there’s those fine margins) – although the giant touchscreen in the centre console was identical. Below it, the row of glass-finished virtual buttons in the 50 were replaced by physical ones you could actually push. The topic is a recurring theme with both Autocar testers and readers alike (and even editors). I’m with the majority: proper buttons are best.

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Lead goodbye pic

The Avant’s engine, a four-cylinder 2.0-litre turbodiesel driving through the front wheels, might have been a step down in power, but it didn’t feel by much. It’s still a strong engine and, on a fine chassis, it was easy to forget about the larger tail. Speaking of which, the difference in luggage capacity was surprisingly small, thanks to the saloon’s cavernous 530-litre boot. The Avant offers 565 and, with limo-like comfort and space on the rear bench, both hit their family-friendly marks perfectly.

As much as I liked the air suspension on the saloon, the steel springs on the Avant still ensured a cushioned ride without any nasty boat-like sensations. The steering was neutral and offered decent feedback from the 18in wheels (the saloon ran on 20s, but felt no better or worse) and, tellingly, I looked forward to each and every journey, just as I had in the saloon. Even the commute.

As for the economy, at times it was hard to believe. Diesels might be out of favour but, once the Avant was run in, it regularly returned more than 700 miles on a tank. Okay, we’d taken the enlarged 73-litre tank option and it cost more than £80 to fill it. But in Efficiency mode, range was never exactly an anxiety. It was a marvel. But are you surprised? This is all what you’d expect from an Audi. So what about some more of those fine margins? Here we get to the rub.

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First, both engines featured a character flaw that was impossible to reconcile: turbo diesel step-off delay. At a junction or roundabout when you require a squeeze of power to ensure safe passage, neither could be trusted to deliver what you’d need in that instant. The delay was palpable and at times even alarming. I found myself tightening with caution every time I approached a busy junction.

Second, as much as the Avant shone, it lacked a spark: an emotional engagement often found in Mercs and BMWs. Switch to Sport mode and the difference was negligible… Perhaps the loss of exclusivity of premium cars – they’re common on today’s roads – was a factor, but in the case of the A6, it’s more than that.

Audi has done a great job to hit the broad-appeal brief. But it has missed – or perhaps more accurately, hasn’t bothered with – some of those fine margins that would elevate it to the status of sublime. It’s brilliant – of course it is. But after a few weeks, the Avant felt a little… well, ordinary.

Reading that back, it seems churlish with this level of refinement and mass appeal, especially as the A6 has genuinely great qualities. But will we miss it now it’s gone? Not as much as we probably should.

Second Opinion

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I’m with our managing editor on this one – on a long, rainy schlep, the quiet Audi feels like a castle on wheels, but it’s a bit of a one-trick pony. With only quick back-to-back drives, the dynamic difference would be lost on your average driver, but over time there’s no doubt a BMW 5 Series would prove the more satisfying daily driver.

Richard Lane

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Love it:

interior refinement In any spec, an A6 cabin is a comfortable and pleasant place to be. Driving position is good, too.

everyday cruising It’s hard to fault the A6’s ride and consistency, on motorways and A-roads alike.

Fuel efficiency Our snack quota was vastly reduced by fewer visits to forecourts, as the A6 returned 700 miles on a tank.

Loathe it:

Engine lag That step-off delay was hard to forgive in a car of this level. Beware going for marginal gaps in traffic.

Touchscreens They look snazzy, but real buttons you can actually push are always better – and safer, too.

Final mileage: 5625

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Life with an Audi A6 Avant: Month 5

Is it inappropriate to use the f-word when it comes to a vast executive estate? - 17th April 2019

Spring has sprung just in time to enjoy the Audi A6 Avant during the refreshing antidote to the long winter murk, as the estate’s stint on the Autocar fleet begins to draw to a close.

The daily motorway haul and usual seasonal lottery of mixed driving conditions doesn’t make it any easier to keep its metallic glacier white skin gleaming at its striking best. But once out of sight, out of mind within the calming perspective of the cosseting interior, the twinge of guilt over the shameful exterior grime soon drifts away. Tomorrow. We’ll clean it tomorrow.

The weekly economy numbers of this premium cruiser continue to defy the modern trend for diesel demonisation. Science was never my strong point, but a 2.0-litre TDI engine that consistently returns more than 700 miles from an optioned extra-large 73-litre fuel tank can’t be truly evil – can it? On a logical commuter default setting of Efficiency mode, this marvel of a motor does exactly what it says on the acres of expansive touchscreen. At between £80 to £85, a brimful of diesel isn’t cheap, but the expanse of time between forecourt visits takes the edge off pin-number pain.

But enough of that. From the previous five months on the road, we already know about the A6’s allround practicality for daily long-haul use, in both saloon and estate form. So how about driving this car for pleasure? The Avant is an (unladen) 1710kg, 4939mm-long executive behemoth. Can we really expect to use the f-word about such a car? Can this Audi be fun?

The short answer is yes, of course it can. But the longer answer has a few caveats. It’s true that a maximum 201bhp at 3750-4200rpm won’t catch your breath and neither will 0-62mph in 8.3sec – a chunk of which is taken up by that frustratingly sluggish turbo step-off (turns out it irks as much with this engine as it did with the 3.0-litre V6 tested previously). But on the tight confines of most British roads, ultimate power counts for less than the 295lb ft of torque, which is plenty to keep one happily occupied.

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Audi a6 avant 5

So click for choice of driving mode, touch Dynamic, flick the steering wheel paddles for manual and point the fat snout down a B-road. The A6 rapidly proves (once it’s moving) that it offers more than this driver will ever need or use within the limits of the law.

The electromechanical progressive steering lacks visceral engagement, but that’s hardly a surprise, and direct placement of the car, as you inevitably play dodge the pothole, is still easy and accurate. The quattro and four-wheel steering on our previous 50-spec saloon wrought a bigger grin (quelle surprise!), but for a heavy, front-wheel-drive estate, this A6 is impressive – although it’s better suited to sweeping country A-roads, if you can find one free of heavy traffic without reverting to a night drive.

The engine’s smooth delivery and steel suspension with optioned damping control offers a mesmeric experience from which a natural rhythm is easy to fall into. Tune out of Radio 4 and all that Brexit unpleasantness and your world might briefly become a serene haven from the harsh ruts of reality.

The only criticism – and to many it will be a strength – is this car’s supermodel-like air of detachment that’s as glacial as its (currently tarnished) paint job. Even this far into our test, that has never thawed.

Are there hidden depths behind the mask of premium Germanic perfection? No, probably not. Even with the gearshift paddles, the car jumps in if you try anything too daft. After all, larks are all well and good, but only if the fun is controlled.

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So by all means drop the kids off, abandon the commute and drive this car for the hell of it. Rewards will come – just don’t expect to live on the edge of reason. Go with the flow, just as Audi likes it.

Love it:

Electronic boot hatch The switch in the driver’s door opens it, the button in the lid closes it, with a muffled clunk. Funny how happy that can make one.

Loathe it:

Touchscreen fails If your finger-aim is off by a smidge, the virtual button you want to press will stare back at you blankly. Infuriating and distracting.

Mileage: 4572

Audi a6 avant 3 0

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Length can be deceptive - 10th April 2019

Each time I return to this car, it strikes me just how long it looks. At 4939mm, there’s an overhang in most car park spaces. Yet remarkably, negotiating tight multi-storeys and busy streets in town is no sweat. This is a big car, but even without four-wheel steering and at 2110mm wide, it’s agile and easy to place on the road.

Mileage: 4158

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Life with an Audi A6 Avant: Month 4

Engine not as refined as expected - 27th March 2019

Modern diesels supposedly banished the black pump’s hoary old truck-engine reputation long ago, but our Audi’s 2.0 TDI stirs dormant recollections every time the stopstart function kicks in. The rattle and grumble as the motor restarts in traffic is a touch unseemly, while a cut-out of about 15 seconds makes it barely worth the bother.

Mileage: 3351

Audi a6 avant 0

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Making use of rear space - 13th March 2019

An adult-sized bicycle fits with the rear seats folded down, but only with a front puncture. Once repaired, the wheel must be removed for the bike to squeeze in. Also this week, I’ve missed our previous A6 saloon’s electric seat controls to easily adapt my driving position. A stiff right leg after a two-hour 90-mile trip was uncomfortable, but I won’t complain about a near-60mpg figure.

Mileage: 2490

Audi a6 lt

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Does a premium car like an A6 really merit its premium outlay? - 6th March 2019

Before I joined Autocar last autumn, I had a spell as a school teacher (long story, don’t ask). I needed wheels, but money was tight, so I played it safe with a finance deal for a lightly used Toyota Aygo.

A modest choice, especially for someone who loves cars – but needs must, and there’s a reason it’s the archetypal ‘teacher’s car’. The finance was only £120 a month, running costs and maintenance were low and I consoled myself that at least I was buzzing around in what is actually a sharp piece of modern, ergonomic design. It’s now on loan to my in-laws and I’ve got a soft spot for it.

The contrast to my life today is clearly stark. I’m back working in an office, in a job that’s on familiar territory and doesn’t test my sanity (well, not often). I am commuting again – an 80-mile daily round trip – but at least I’m doing so in this Audi A6 Avant. Compared to the Aygo, it has four wheels, it’s the same colour – and that’s about it.

But as I hit the static M25 the other morning, I found myself considering this contrast in fundamental terms: just what has such a car added to my life, and now the novelty has worn off, is such luxury worth it?

When I get home at night, having spent in total about three hours behind the wheel, I’m still knackered. But the difference is I’d be completely spent if I was doing it in the Aygo.

Small cars are hard work over distance, especially on motorways. The A6 is a cocoon, the minimal road noise and Audi’s renowned interior finesse creating a calming ambience that soothes away stress, even on the stickiest of journeys. In truth, that novelty hasn’t worn off, and the same can be said for the ride. B-roads were a back-battering chore in the Aygo, but the A6 – even on conventional springs – smooths over all but the worst craters.

Audi a6 avant 3

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On motorways, I always felt vulnerable in the Aygo, a minnow among hulking trucks. It’s noticeable how little respect other drivers are willing to give you in a small car, and that is perhaps the biggest daily difference. ‘Survival of the fittest’ is the worst aspect of UK driving when you are bottom of the food chain.

Now, Audi drivers have their own reputation and one is well aware what others might be thinking as you waft along in a squat, big-grilled, sore-thumb white A6. My tendency to overcompensate by driving with a courtesy that might invoke genuine surprise in fellow road users keeps me amused. But I’m also shallow enough to revel in my new-found higher status… and with 295lb ft under my foot, the ease with which I can extricate myself from clumps of traffic has on occasion provoked smugness. Unattractive, I know, but there you go. I’m clearly reverting to Audi type.

As touched on in the last report, economy is a marvel, with more than 670 miles eked out of a tank of diesel. Then again, the Aygo was frugal, too – which is entirely its point. No, it’s the torque, comfort and ride that count most. I can’t deny, the A6 just makes life easier to negotiate. So would I go back to the humble life of a road minnow? Actually, yes. Then again, I’ve always revelled in playing the underdog.

But I’m in no hurry when the view from here is so beguiling. It’s human nature to adapt to your surroundings and now ‘premium’ is the new normal I’m intrigued to see how much I start to pick holes in the finer life. That’s human nature, too.

Love it:

Eye-catching looks First sight in the morning and when I come back to it at the end of the day. Low, fat and wide, this car has presence.

Loathe it:

…Apart from one thing The grille. It’s cumbersome and plain ugly and spoils an attractive face. Kylo Ren from Stars Wars springs to mind.

Mileage: 1854

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Life with an Audi A6: Month 3

Blue sky driving - 13th February 2019

Driving to and from work in the darkness of a depressing British winter means I can’t always enjoy one of the Audi’s less obvious strengths. But at the weekend, pottering about in the daytime, it struck me how the plethora of glass makes the cabin a light and uplifting place to view the world. It’s also a reminder that privacy glass isn’t an option that’s for everyone.

Mileage: 930

Audi a6 avant sunroof

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We’ve swapped our lavishly equipped saloon for a lower-spec estate. Any regrets? - 6th February 2019

Saloon or estate? Perhaps it’s an age thing, but these days I’d usually go for the estate, especially when it comes to the options on offer from Germany’s Big Three. Function over style is an equation of zero relevance at this end of the market. In fact, the ‘bread van’ choice is often the more striking.

Is that the case with the pair pictured above? Totally subjective, of course, but my eye errs towards the lugger. From the front, they appear identical anyway, but it’s the tapering rear end that does it for me.

So it was only with the slightest pang of regret that I bid farewell to the muscular A6 50 TDI and ushered an expectant welcome to the swooping Avant, despite the lower spec referenced in its designation as a 40.

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Out goes the steroidal 3.0-litre V6 and in comes the steadfast 2.0-litre inline four, pulled by regular front-wheel drive rather than all-round quattro dynamism. The S-tronic gearbox has seven cogs to the tiptronic automatic’s eight, it rides on 18in Bridgestones rather than 19in Pirellis, and the sweet force of 0-62mph acceleration in 5.5sec is swapped for a more uneventful 8.3sec.

The embarrassment of expensive options, which raised eyebrows with a few readers, is off the table, too. Instead of nearly £20,000 worth of extravagance, our Avant’s list fills only a few lines rather than half a page: Technology pack (£1495), a larger fuel tank, up from 63 to 73 litres (£115), suspension with damping control (£1150) and a panoramic glass sunroof (£1950) that has already proven a hit with the kids in the back. Glass and light are copious.

Of the 50’s extras, what I’m already missing are the striking 5-V-spoke alloy wheels (the 40’s almost look plastic in comparison), the dynamic all-wheel steering, the sci-fi bling of HD matrix LEDs that can’t fail to impress/wind up other drivers, and the comforting cushion of adaptive air suspension. Even with the damping extra on the Avant, traditional steel coils are inevitably less composed over the B-road craters the Avant will be negotiating on a daily basis for the next few months.

Audi a6 avant swap saloon 1

Still… first-world problems, eh? The intent is only to describe, not to complain. How could I? Big load-lugging Audis are renowned for their good looks, composure and comfort – and whatever the spec, this fifth-gen A6 lives up to the regal lineage.

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Just a week into life with the 40, a few early impressions spring to mind. First, I’ve yet to trouble a fuel forecourt and won’t need to for a few days yet. The 50 had proven pleasantly frugal for its size and heft, thanks in part to mild hybridisation. Benefiting from the same system, which saves the engine work at cruising speed, the 2.0-litre four is little short of a marvel in this respect.

In real-world terms, over 11 weeks, it cost an average of £74 to brim the 50’s 63-litre tank each week, to log an average of 438 miles. It will be interesting to see how that all changes thanks to the Avant’s larger tank and smaller engine.

Another key observation reflects the only significant black mark against the V6, and one that never ceased to prove troubling. Pick-up from a standstill at busy junctions and roundabouts often caused the heart to flutter a little faster. ‘Lag’ in the motoring lexicon is usually associated with turbos from another age, but it’s the best description for the V6’s initial lethargy. Squirt the 2.0-litre four and the contrasting reaction isn’t perfect – but the response is vastly better. Still, it seems odd such a point should be raised at all for cars of this price and sophistication.

At this juncture, the hunch is we’ll find more that is preferable about the estate in the coming months. The extra space capacity – a still generous 530 litres for the saloon versus 565 for the Avant – certainly won’t go to waste. ‘Broad appeal’ is on the brief, and it really shouldn’t be lacking.

Love it:

NO FEAR OF CABIN FEVER Trademark refinement of interior offers unblemished comfort over distance. Spec downgrading is noticeable, but negligible.

Loathe it:

FIVE INTO A6 DOESN’T GO Teenager reports middle rear seat is hard and space is tight – although two small-person booster seats either side don’t help.

Audi a6 avant swap saloon 2

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Life with an Audi A6: Month 2

Colourful interior ambience - 16th January 2019

Experiments with driving modes have proven diverting, more for the bling in the cabin than any great variations in handling. Dynamic mode is most pleasing, its red pin lights proving ‘very Death Star’ in the dark. More usefully, the optional four-wheel steering has impressed, enabling the A6 to turn so much tighter than our family Ford S-Max in confined spaces.

Mileage: 5566

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Audi a6 1 0

Why ignoring driver alerts isn’t always – or perhaps ever – a good idea - 2nd January 2018

Colin Chapman’s old adage generally tends to serve me well: “Don’t worry, it’ll be all right.”

The Lotus founder wasn’t averse to blind faith, according to his regularly frazzled staff, and often things were indeed “all right”. But sometimes they weren’t – and I’ve discovered the same, unfortunately, is true for me. I thought of Chapman’s optimism as I stood shivering behind a barrier on the M3 early on a Friday morning as an endless stream of rush-hour traffic swooshed past. The Audi A6 currently stranded 50 yards up the hard shoulder had told me with an alarming ping that ‘air pressure is low in right rear tyre’. Had I listened? Had I heck. It would be all right.

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“I don’t mean to tell you how to suck eggs,” said Mark, the cheerful chap from the AA, who’d arrived after a pleasingly short 30-minute wait. No, it’s okay, go on. “If you’d stopped when the alarm came on, we could have saved the tyre.”

The tell-tale gouge in the Pirelli P Zero clearly suggested I’d run over something sharp and probably metallic. But the deterioration in the sidewall was my own doing, thanks to running the tyre flat in my hopeful efforts to make it to work (for a busy press day, in my defence).

Audi a6 aa repair

The Audi had tried to warn me more than once. Following the initial ping, another sounded with a glaring red message warning of a major fault in the usually magical air suspension, before a final missive declared the wheel bolts were loose. They weren’t, but the white lie did the trick and I admitted defeat. Yes, lesson learnt, Mark: when the shiny new car tells me something in an urgent manner, next time I’ll listen.

In further defence (come on, you expected this bit), perhaps my doubts were sewn by the regular false alarms on my daily drive: emergency braking I don’t require, front sensors suddenly flashing up as out of action in slow traffic I’ve been crawling among for ages. Such occurrences are by no means exclusive to this A6, but it hadn’t exactly helped me build a relationship of trust with the Audi – although we seem to have a new, deeper understanding since the puncture incident.

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On a happier note, our bond had already been strengthened on our first significant long-distance trip together with (some of) the family on board. The teenagers were busily revising for GCSE mocks, so only the three-year-old twins joined Mrs Smith and I for a much-needed weekend away to the Cotswolds. A perfect opportunity to stretch the Audi away from the tedium of the daily commute beckoned.

Audi a6 rear booster seats

Booster seats and four little legs were never a serious challenge to the bounteous rear passenger cabin, but what about the small mountain of stuff we’d be carting west? No bother. The 530-litre boot swallowed our clutter, including two junior bikes, without even the hint of a belch. Such family jaunts probably weren’t foremost in the intentions for this regally comfortable executive saloon, but it’s perfectly suitable – especially with that air-assisted ride adding to a sense of serenity not even disturbed by the peacekeeping Disney soundtrack of Frozen, Moana and the like.

Since our introduction to the A6, readers have commented on the eye-watering list of luxury options included on our test car, and I’ll return to these in future reports. In reality, some would be simply unnecessary – but I must admit, the all-wheel steering is a grower. Road placement and grip only improve with confidence and there is further satisfaction to be found with this car beyond the pampering of the interior’s refined comfort. Perhaps that’s another sign of a deepening trust in this accomplished, mature performer. I’m in good hands.

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Love it:

A LESSON IN ECONOMY Consistently good economy, assisted by mild-hybridisation, ensures just a single weekly pit stop despite high commuter miles.

Loathe it:

ERRANT ENGINE RESPONSE Lack of initial throttle response from a standstill followed by a sensation of all-at-once power delivery remains disconcerting.

Audi a6 static trees

Mileage: 5213

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Life with an Audi A6: Month 1

A semi-unwelcome reminder - 21 November 2018

The problem with the long-term memory display is that it’s a telltale of just how much time I spend commuting: more than two whole days in just three weeks – at an average speed of just 28mph. Still, can’t complain. Each day I look forward to it, such is the soothing aura of refinement. The daily grind has never been so calming.

Mileage: 1557

24 Audi a6 2018 lt long term memory

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Welcoming the A6 to the fleet - 7 November 2018

The white-van driver toots, then motions to wind the window down as we crawl along the chocker A316. Uh-oh… but it’s fine. “What engine is that?” he calls. “3.0-litre V6,” I reply. “Is that the new one? Very nice, mate.” Thumbs-up, a smile and we return to our vastly contrasting automotive cocoons. This striking Audi A6 evokes a response, just as is intended, and its regeneration is clearly something of an event to those tuned in to premium-class saloons.

Audi’s target across the new A6 range is to challenge both the driving dynamism of the BMW 5 Series and the all-round brilliance of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Quite a task, then. Our intention in the coming months is to discover whether it has pulled it off, which means sampling more than one of these executive liners. A stint in the Avant estate will follow before our time is up.

Audi has always been white hot on comfort and toasty on tech – but has it got what it takes to add flavour to the ingredient that has too often come up bland? Sport is in Audi’s genes after all those years of Le Mans domination, but somehow it hasn’t always translated to the road. In this class, it’s beyond time that it does. We start with this, the diesel S Line saloon, with all the bells and whistles that add an eye-watering £19,670 to the base price.

18 Audi a6 2018 lt otr front

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That 3.0-litre V6 is good for 286bhp and a whopping 620lb ft of torque, topping out at (apparently) 155mph. Economy is measured at 48.7mpg (we’ll certainly be testing that), with CO2 emissions rated at 150g/km. An 80-mile round-trip daily commute is a good place to start for a car intended to revel in long-distance cruising, and in our first week, more than 540 miles are logged – in a state of zen-like serenity.

That’s saying something, given the slog includes a sticky stretch of M25. Here, the automatic handbrake and engine cut are silently blessed every day. Idling in traffic has never been so placid, in Alcantara tranquillity. The firm but posture-friendly seats, the tactile finish of both hard and soft surfaces, the pleasing glow from the sharp dashboard, instrument cluster and large navigation screen, augmented with a personal soundtrack of BBC 6 Music on the sonorous Bang & Olufsen optional sound system… it’s like a personal daily spa in a five-star hotel. Homely? Absolutely not. But the clinical sense of cool detachment is a comforting novelty right now. Yet few want to live in a hotel forever, no matter the standard of pampering. Let’s see if glacial perfection wears thin.

The supple ride from the adaptive air suspension contributes to the calm, as the family attest on a weekend chauffeur trip to Brighton for a spot of 16th birthday shopping. The teenagers grin with usually hard-to-win approval at this slice of the finer life. The A6 is born for straight and true highways.

But what about on the pockmarked British B-road? There’s plenty of opportunity to find out in the bucolic Surrey Hills in the coming months, not least on the rutted puncture trap that leads to home.

Here, that clever air suspension truly exceeds expectations. Roads that usually rattle our innards are reduced to barely a ripple. This is one novelty that won’t wear off.

10 Audi a6 2018 lt dashboard

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So much for tech and comfort. How about that dynamism target? Well, early doubts have crept in. The first niggle to take root is the significant delay between squeezing the right foot and something actually happening. The eight-speed Tiptronic automatic gearbox is a marvel once moving, with torque apparently endless in whatever gear it has chosen. But when a squirt is most needed, from a standing start at a busy junction or roundabout, or when pulling out to overtake something slow on a straight bit of A-road, the lack of urgency is mildly troubling. Then that diesel torque suddenly kicks in and it all starts happening. It’s a little disconcerting, but perhaps we need to learn how to get the best from it.

A lightness of touch, especially on curving A-roads, certainly seems essential. The all-wheel steering hasn’t inspired confidence so far. Perhaps experimentation with the dazzling (and slightly daunting) array of dynamic options will refine our faith. But awareness of the A6’s imposing dimensions is never heightened more than on such roads. Threading through busy Brighton streets is a breeze, but out in the open, the A6 doesn’t encourage you to hustle. Better to take your time and go with the flow.

So has Audi combined chauffeur levels of zen with a wow factor Allan McNish could relate to? We endeavour to find out. Either way, that BMW and Mercedes rivalry is a tension the A6 cannot escape. Then again, if you respond to blue steel supermodel elegance like our friend in the white van, does it really matter? There is much to enjoy here. True love might well thaw the frosty facade as we draw into winter.

8 Audi a6 2018 lt rear end

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Second Opinion

The A6 can come across as a bit of a cold fish, but I suspect it to garner lasting affection from the Autocar team. I also suspect our car’s optional air suspension will be largely responsible for that. It lends the cabin a churchlike ambience on motorway schleps but with little if any trade-off in body control on B-roads. On the subject of B-roads, I also predict there will be days when Damien wishes he’d got his hands on a 5 Series instead.

Richard Lane

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Audi A6 Avant 40 TDI Quattro specification

Prices: List price new £39,850 List price now £41,275 Price as tested £46,935 Dealer value now £35,250 Private value now £33,000 Trade value now £28,250 (part exchange)

Options:Technology Pack £1495, Fuel tank increase (73 litres) £115, Suspension with damping control £1150, Panoramic glass sunroof £1950, Glacier white metallic paint £685, Sports seats in black leather/Alcantara £800

Fuel consumption and range: Claimed economy 60.1mpg Fuel tank 73 litres Test average 51.0mpg Test best 51.2mpg Test worst 45.4mpg Real-world range 652 miles

Tech highlights: 0-62mph 8.3sec Top speed 149mph Engine 4-cylinder in line, 1968cc, turbocharged diesel Max power 201bhp at 3750-4200rpm Max torque 295lb ft at 1750-3500rpm Transmission 7-speed dual-clutch automatic Boot capacity 565 litres Wheels 8.0Jx18in Tyres 225.55 R18 Kerb weight 1785kg

Service and running costs: Contract hire rate £458.10 CO2 124g/km Service costs none Other costs none Fuel costs £526.12 Running costs inc fuel £526.12 Cost per mile nine pence Depreciation £11,600 Cost per mile inc dep’n £2.23 Faults none

17 Audi a6 2018 lt ds driving

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Arsecati 6 April 2019

Bike will only fit if it has a puncture?

Ok, this one confuses me! I am a triathlete and have the last generation A6 Avant, so will regularly throw either my road or TT bikes in the back - fully assembled - without even thinking. There is still LOADS of space for it (I once squeezed the TT AND a mountain bike in there...... with a load of cardboard and bubble wrap between to try protect the frames!). From the picture you posted, I am seriously confused as to how you had problems fitting it in - how does the extra few cm's leeway between a flat or inflated tyre make any difference? :/


Ituned 3 April 2019

Better bought used!

I've read the comments with interest after recently purchasing a 5 month old A6 Avant S-Line 3.0 TDI. It was an Audi launch car with over £20,000 of extras, much like your original press car, but with some more obscure options like soft door close but including 4 wheel steering, air suspension etc etc. The type of spec you'd build on the Audi configurator, but never actually buy. Fortunately a dealer had to register it as a demonstrator car and suffer the depreciaition.

With a list price at a mouth watering £72,575 including options, just 5 months later I was the proud owner at under £46,000. That's right, over £26,500 less than list price at 5 months old and 6,000 miles. If you are looking for value for money, this is the sweet spot. The car is magnificent and replaces my 2 year old Volov V90 Inscription Pro D5.

Initial impressions are that the Volvo just does not deliver in refinement and ride quality compared to the latest A6. Where the Audi glides over bumps, the Volvo would crash. Power is in a different league both in terms of pick up and refinement, and whilst I'd agree that initial pull away from juntions can be lardy, using it in Sport mode transforms the car. The Volvo was much more reluctant to pull away and the engine was coarse. Having driven the D4, I'd recommend it against the D5. 

Volvo has improved greatly over the past few years but the Audi's cabin is in a different league for quality. The 2 central touchscreens are far easier to navigate than the big screen in the latest Volkswagen Touareg, and the interior ambient lighting pack has enjoyed many positive comments from passengers, as has the ride quality and almost total lack of noise in the cabin. All thanks the optional air suspension and double glazing, which I didn't pay for!

I'm absolutely delighted with my new A6, probably far more than anyone who'd paid anywhere close to list price for theirs could ever be. 






xxxx 25 February 2019


Ahh did you need the AA because you can't change a wheel or was it because there not being one in the boot. If the later think yourself lucky you won't in France Sunday afternoon on a family holiday!

Difference between TPMS and a Spare wheel, one will tell you you've a problem the other can resolve a problem.