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Engine options, top speed, acceleration and refinement

It’s a little frustrating that the A6’s control layout makes you reach all the way to the far side of the centre stack to tweak the driving modes and also that you need to penetrate the lower touchscreen via a couple of fingertip inputs to switch between powertrain modes (EV, Auto, Hold and Charge). From this, we can deduce that Audi doesn’t expect A6 drivers to be as interested in exploring the characteristics of their vehicle as an Autocar road tester might be.

As a car to simply slide into and drive, though, the A6 works very well. Like most PHEVs, it moves away from rest on electric power. Unlike a rival with a separate electrically powered axle, it doesn’t quite have EV-level throttle response from standing, but low-speed performance feels very linear under your right foot.

Predictable, obedient and sure-footed responses make it a reassuring and easy car to steer on a flowing A-road but it won’t do much for a keen driver craving engagement.

It’s a fairly potent electric runner, so it’s easy to keep the piston engine shut down at and below 40mph. The slightly meek resistance of the haptic throttle pedal makes achieving the same thing around the national speed limit more uncertain, though. It would be simpler if you had access to all of the accelerator travel for electric running, saving the pedal’s kickdown switch for when you need to rouse the combustion engine, but instead you have to feel for the resistance in the pedal that marks the engine handover point, and too often push through it by mistake.

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Find your way to Dynamic mode and the A6 50 TFSIe feels quite brisk, although possibly not as quick as the 5.7sec 0-60mph clocking we recorded might suggest. The piston engine starts very smoothly and runs really quietly when it’s called to and at times it’s genuinely difficult to tell whether it’s actually idling.

So in full stride, this is a responsive and willing car, with plenty of overtaking muscle and the ability to pull higher gears easily. It’s not a car that rewards a keener driving style, but it’s certainly assured, very refined (more detail on that shortly), relaxing and easy to drive. In light of the model’s stated positioning, this makes it a pretty successful effort, although admittedly not everybody’s cup of tea.