SOMETIMES, Audi seems to be working on some kind of automotive countdown. Hot on the heels of the new A8, which launched last year, and the new A7, which arrived earlier this year, here comes the new A6.
It’s the company’s rival for the likes of the BMW 5-series, Mercedes E-class and Jaguar XF, and it’s very much a case of “Honey, I shrunk the A8”. Much of the quality and technology from Audi’s flagship limo is now available in this smaller — and less expensive — executive car.
It may be less barge-like but it’s immediately obvious that the A6 looks very like its larger brother. There’s the same huge grille, flanked by a choice of three different types of headlight, and the rear end is dominated by a massive strip of chrome between the lights.
Inside, too, you can’t help feeling there’s been a lot of copying and pasting from the A8’s cabin — and that’s no bad thing. Almost eerywhere you look, you’ll find materials of the very high quality. The technology is really impressive, too, with two digital displays on the centre console.
You have to be a proper nit-picker to find much to complain about, but so this website’s editor doesn’t accuse me of lacking a critical eye, a few bits of trim seem a little below par, the roof-lining feels a bit cheap and the touchscreen needs a firm prod before it’ll respond, but that’s about it. [That wasn’t so hard, was it? — Ed.]
When it comes to comfort, though, the A6 is second to none in its class. Not only is there a huge amount of room in the front, there’s even more head, leg and shoulder room in the back of this new model than in the old model. And that was Tardis-like in itself.
Admittedly, the boot is only about the same size as the previous A6’s, but that still just about exactly matches what you’ll find in its rivals.
On the road, the A6 majors on comfort and refinement, and you’ll be hard-pushed to find something that’s as quiet on the motorway. It’s helped by the optional air suspension that was fitted to the car we drove and smooths out bumps superbly.
But although this is a big, heavy, comfortable car, it’s also surprisingly capable when you head away from the highway.
Our test car also had the optional four-wheel steering system, and that has two benefits: around town, by turning the rear wheels in the opposite direction to the fronts, it makes the car easier to manoeuvre; then, at high speed on the open road, all four wheels turn in the same direction, making the car more stable.
Combine this with grippy quattro four-wheel drive, strong performance from the 3-litre V6 petrol engine and a smooth seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, and the result is a car that can cross country far quicker and safer than you might expect of such a big lump of metal and leather.
As you might have guessed from the number of times the word “optional” appears above, the biggest challenge for any prospective A6 buyer is self-restraint. With so much of the most desirable equipment only available as options, it’s all too easy for you to end up with a very costly A6 on your drive.
Mind you, the car certainly feels worth it. This is the most luxurious car of its type, and so good that you almost wonder why Audi — or you, for that matter — need bother with the A8.
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