By: Steven Winter, Columnist, International Director
As far as executive saloons go, the Audi A6 became one of the cars shaping the entire segment. The new generation that surfaced in the first weeks of 2018 continued with the recent trend of focusing on the saloon segment. Yet, despite being instantly recognizable, the new Audi A6 should be sportier and roomier at the same time. It is bigger…again. Not by much, though. Audi noted that it grew 2 millimeters in height, 7 millimeters in length and 12 millimeters in width. Particularly interesting is the fact that the new Audi A6 is actually heavier compared with the previous generation; not by much—5 to 30 kilograms, depending on the version.
This came as a surprise since Audi officials noted that the new A6 saloon employs a number of weight-saving techniques—parts of the suspension were made of aluminum; body architecture and body panels are a smart mix of aluminum and steel as well. However, additional weight is there for a reason. It can be accounted for thanks to the new mild-hybrid system, which is a part of all new Audi A6 cars. This may well be the most notable and the most important change compared with the previous car. See, with the mild-hybrid system, all A6 cars have become considerably more efficient. As Audi explains it, the mild-hybrid system works thanks to a belt alternator starter (BAS). This is essentially an overpowered alternator that provides a power-enabling coasting option and dependable start/stop function. Higher-powered models featuring advanced turbocharged diesel and petrol engines use a 48-volt electric system. After all, BAS and other electric systems need a whole lot more power. Models with four-pot engines, on the other hand, have 12-volt electric systems. Not to worry, they also have a mild-hybrid system and a 34-to-99 miles-per-hour coasting option.
As it turns out, these are the main technical differences compared with the previous car. Regardless, Audi did an astonishing job in introducing some of the best bits of the A8 and the rest of the lineup to the A6. The technology inside is, to be blunt, amazing. Although sporty credentials had to be sharpened up once again, the comfort and luxury of the latest Audi A6 do not fall much behind luxury sedans. With extensive work on the aerodynamics, Audi managed to lower the drag coefficient to 0.24. This, in turn, ensured a quieter cabin. The cabin was enlarged, too. And that in key areas. Now, passengers will have even more overhead room and more space for knees and shoulders. Audi officials proudly pointed out that one can find more room in the A6 than in any of its competitors. (E-class and 5 Series: take a hint.)
Among other notable changes focused on improving comfort and luxury is the new design of the boot. Despite having the same capacity as the boot in the previous model (530 liters), the new Audi A6 can actually take in two golf-club bags. New seats promise far greater comfort for long voyages. Available in units with high-grade equipment, new seats provide numerous adjustment functions, optionally available with ventilation and massage.
The interior is obviously a knock off of the new A8. This is actually a good thing as it accentuates the digital, sharp and focused character of the A6. With a virtual cockpit, massive center screen (8 inches or 10 inches) and rather cool air-conditioning control unit under it, the new Audi A6 interior takes its passengers to a futuristic place. As expected, buyers will have numerous personalization options. Five interior categories to choose from: basic, sport, design, design selection and S line sport package (with 19-inch wheels and sport suspension). Each differentiated by materials and colors.
Interestingly enough, Audi did not start their press release like I’ve started this article. They focused on something entirely different—advancements of the MMI (Multimedia Interface) and Internet connectivity. Sure, this is a hot topic right now, and the Germans delivered by installing the new LTE (Long-Term Evolution) Advanced standard, a self-learning navigation function based on the driven routes, and two sound systems. One of the most important features of the new system is the so called car-to-X service. In short, all Audi A6 cars share their data and achieve a sort of swarm intelligence continuously providing up-to-date details on routes.
Let’s dispense with the Internet of things stuff. What about propulsion?
Audi prepared two four-cylinder engines and two V6 units for the car. As noted above, the engines provide mild-hybrid capability, cutting down emissions and fuel consumption but improving performance. The 3.0 TFSI V6 turbocharged unit (seven-speed S-tronic) produces 340 horsepower and 368 pound-feet of torque. Enough for 0-62 miles per hour time in 5.1 seconds. The three-liter diesel (eight-speed tiptronic) with 285 horsepower and 457 pound-feet of torque will do the same job in less than six seconds.
Although not available at the start, four-cylinder units will consist of a turbocharged petrol and a turbocharged diesel motor. The specs for the petrol one aren’t released as of yet, but have no doubt that the two-liter TFSI will churn out 250 horsepower. The diesel, on the other hand, will make do with 201 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque.
All of this power will massage the Quattro all-wheel drive and provide plenty of oomph for numerous driver-assistance systems. These include:
- Parking Pilot and Garage Pilot (it will park your car for you),
- City Assist package,
- Tour Assist package,
- Adaptive Damper Control, or air-suspension with adaptive damping,
- Standard four-wheel-steering system, which dramatically increases agility at low speeds and stability at high speeds,
- Level 3 self-driving function (same as in the Audi A8), and
- All imaginable active and passive safety equipment, including automatic braking, smart cruise control and more.