However, and contrary to what some may thing, to say that a car is conservative is by no means a bad thing. The A6 competes in a premium brand executive segment increasingly dominated by heavy crossover SUVs compromised between road and mild off-road abilities, and so-called four-door coupes further encroaching on its traditional territory. A more traditional saloon, the A6 instead offers a sense of clarity, purpose and focus that elude most such trendy vehicles, and arenât even matched by its own highly accomplished Audi Q5 crossover and low-roof sportback A7 sisters.
Launched two years ago, the latest generation A6 is a sportier and more sculpted design with more defined surfacing and line, a bigger more dramatic low-slung grille and browed moody headlights horizontally bisected by an LED strip. Featuring a flowing roofline for a more coupe-like look, the A6, however, retains a distinct three-box saloon design with the space and visibility benefits, and sensible, formal and elegantly classic demeanour that entails. Over the rear wheel-arches its subtly muscular flaring emphasises its Quattro four-wheel-drive and is equipped alloy wheels ranging from 18- to 21-inches.
With its turbocharged direct injection 3-litre V6 engine positioned longitudinally slightly ahead of the front wheels for tenacious traction, the A6 55 TFSI Quattro, however, balances this slightly nose-heavy layout with its four-wheel-drive system. Producing 335BHP at 5,000-6,400rpm and 368lb/ft torque throughout a broad 1,370-4,500rpm range, the A6 55 TFSI Quattro is the range-topping model bar S6 and RS6 performance versions. It is a smooth operator with good low-end response, versatile and accessible mid-range pull and willing high-end delivery. Employing four-wheel-drive traction and lighter more aluminium-intensive construction, it dashes through 0-100km/h in just 5.3-seconds.
Slightly quicker accelerating than its equivalent, yet sportier looking A7 sister model, the A6 55 TFSI Quattro also attains an electronically-governed 250km/h top speed, and is similarly calm, capable and smoothly effortless to drive at speed or in traffic. Standard fit with Audiâs 48v battery mild hybrid electric technology, the A6 recuperates kinetic braking energy to power ancillary systems and mildly boost torque output through the crankshaft. The 48v system also reduces fuel consumption 0.7/l/100km to 7.1l/100km on the combined cycle, by allowing the A6 to coast briefly between 55-160km/h and to engage the stop/start system at 22km/h when coming to a stop.
Driving all four wheels through a slick and quick shifting dual-clutch automated gearbox, the A6 is swift, stable, refined and reassuring. During recent test drive damp and outright wet roads, its famed Quattro four-wheel-drive delivered confident and committed road-holding through corners. Featuring Audiâs recent âultraâ technology, the A6âs Quattro now disengages drive to the rear wheels in normal conditions to reduce friction and enhance fuel efficiency. However, it near imperceptibly sends power rearwards and varies it between front and rear, when additional grip and traction is needed.
A far more agile car than its front-biased weighting might suggest, the A6 is confidently stable, grippy, responsive and well controlled through corners, fast sweeping bends and when changing lane. Smooth driving and refined at speed or in town, the A6âs suspension finds a happy medium between firm and forgiving. It is comfortable over most bumps and imperfections, yet, settled on rebound and in vertical movement, but can feel slightly on the stiff side over sudden sharp low speed bumps, owing to the driven modelâs attractive low profile 255/40R20 tyres.
For enhanced agility and traction, an optional sport rear differential to distribute power along the rear axle. Big on advanced options including a comprehensive suite of driver assistance safety systems, the A6 can, however, also optioned with four-wheel-steering. Turning opposite to the front wheels at low speed effectively reduce its wheelbase and in the same direction at high speed, four-wheel-steering provides subtly but significantly improved agility, manoeuvrability and high speed stability. Meanwhile, the A6âs new all-round five-link suspension can optionally be fitted with adaptive air springs for a more comfortable ride and better body control through corners.
Slightly larger and more spacious than its predecessor, the A6 has an airier cabin with better visibility and headroom than its more hunkered down shark-like A7 relation. Comfortably accommodating taller passengers in front and well in the rear, the A6âs driving position is alert, high adjustable and comfortably supportive, while good visibility allows for good driving confidence. Highly well equipped with standard and optional features and conveniences, the A6âs cabin has a conservatively classy ambiance that naturally incorporates quality materials and textures, and dark matt woods and brown leathers, as test, with sophisticated twin infotainment screens and configurable Virtual Cockpit instrument panel.
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