There may be little to be found wanting within the cabin of a current Audi A3, A4, Q3 or Q5 and yet getting into an A6 still feels like taking a step up, as you drink in the material substance, the precise presentation and the tangible luxury aura of a ‘proper’ full-sized Audi saloon.
Up front, there is a superbly sculptural look to the dashboard architecture. The main spar of the fascia, out of which the primary controls seem to sprout and with which the transmission tunnel and centre stack seem to interlock, is presented as if it were a piece of solid billet metalwork. You could almost be looking at the metal skeleton of the car itself, carved and chamfered just so for aesthetic appeal, into which its various touchscreens and control consoles seem so perfectly recessed. It’s a designer’s trick, but it’s a very effective one because it lends the cabin a striking sense of integrity, which its high-quality fixtures and fittings then set about delivering on very consistently indeed.
The driving position is a traditional saloon-style one. The sports seats of our S Line car weren’t set particularly low, being easy to slide in and out of and granting good visibility by saloon standards. The steering wheel is generous in its diameter, so you can see the entirety of the Virtual Cockpit digital instrument screen easily within the orbit of its rim. Plenty of storage is provided in the door console to your right. To your left, there are a pair of roomy cupholders, but the armrest cubby is only shallow (it’s where you’ll find the wireless smartphone charger, if you option it) and there’s no split-level centre console cubby to hide bags or wallets underneath.
Instead, you get a split-level touchscreen infotainment system whose usability can frustrate a little at times. If you don’t like modern touchscreen in-car technology, this probably isn’t the executive saloon for you. Having said that, the digital instrumentation is definitely one of its strong points: it has several display modes and is one of few PHEVs that you can set to show a rev counter or a hybrid mode power meter, or a combination of the two.
Taller drivers will find there’s plenty of room up front, and that leaves proper adult-sized quarters at the rear, fit for long four-up journeys. Although it doesn’t have a raised floor, the boot is quite shallow and offers only 360 litres of space. It might be too slim to accommodate the bulkiest cases and cargo, but for people concerned about such things, Audi does offer an equivalent estate.
Audi A6 infotainment and sat-nav
The A6’s basic offering on in-car infotainment technology is pretty generous. Even the entry-level 50 TFSIe Sport gives you a twin-screen, double-deck MMI Touch system with a main 10.1in high-definition display, a lower 8.6in one (which works mostly for control functions) and Virtual Cockpit digital instruments. Mirroring for Apple- and Android-based phones is included.
The factory navigation includes 3D city models, Google Earth satellite mapping and a three-year data connection for Audi Connect online traffic and destination services. It’s very good, displaying nav mapping very crisply, with directional instructions repeated close to your eyeline in the instrument cluster. It’s easy and reliable to programme by voice command, too.
Audi’s attempt at tactile feedback with the lower touchscreen is problematic, though. It takes firm and precise contact with your finger to select a function or ‘button’, and often two or three attempts to do so successfully.