The Sunday Times Driving Placeholder
At last, an A6 that’s as good as a BMW or a Merc.
Pros
Good to look at and good to own, too
Makes financial sense
First A6 to offer a supple ride
Cons
Still not as fun to drive as best rivals
Huge range of engines and trims
Mercedes E-class is roomier

Audi A6 Mk 4 review (2011-on)

As good as its German rivals

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What is the Audi A6?

In the battle of the premium badges, it’s usually the Germans who end up punching hardest. But it’s the internecine fight that’s most gripping, with BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz going nose to nose.

So this A6 is Audi trying to make an executive express that’s as good to drive as a BMW 5-series and as good to own as Mercedes E-class. The range stretches far and wide from parsimonious four-cylinder diesels to pulverising 420bhp V8 “S” models, but whether you look at the cost to buy or to run, it’s the small diesels that come out on top every time.

If showroom appeal were the only measure, BMW and Mercedes would be crying into their soup right now. The A6 is not only gorgeous on the outside, the cabin also blends true quality with latest technology with rare harmony.

 

The drive

But any fool knows that Audis are great to look at. The question is, can the new A6 beat the habit of a lifetime and actually offer something — anything at all — to even a mildly enthusiastic driver? Well, here’s a revelation — while the expensive models will always have brutal power on their side, the surprise is that even the everyday, ho-hum bread-and-butter models are no longer the joyless conveyances they once were.

The most humble 2.0-litre TDI you can buy is still good for over 140mph and a 0-62mph sprint well under 9 seconds. Better still, this is the first generation of the Audi A6 to offer decent ride quality: all that banging about over the bumps has been replaced by a supple, almost silky gait closer in quality to a Jaguar than anything you might expect from Audi. The A6 makes good sense financially, too: this lower-powered diesel model returns 57.6mpg but if you want an A6 to blow your mind but not your bank balance, you can’t ignore the 3.0 TDI BiTurbo: offering 309bhp and 0-62mph in 5.1 seconds, this is quasi supercar performance with 45mpg consumption.

Sadly the last piece of the jigsaw remains under the sofa. The A6 is a far more capable handler than the last, but it’s still not fun in the way any rival BMW, Mercedes or Jag is fun. It’s quick, competent and effective, but that’s as far as it goes.

The interior





This is where Audi pulls itself back into the game. You might prefer the industrial cleanliness of a BMW-designed interior or the opulent luxury offered by a Mercedes, but if you want most a driving environment that’s as good to operate as it is to look at, the A6 should top your list. Featuring may design cues and features from the top of the range A8 limo, even the cheapest A6 offers a high-quality habitat not just for the driver but his or her passengers, too.

Space is excellent in the front or back, but if it’s ultimate load-lugging ability you’re after, the Mercedes E-class remains the most capacious estate on the market.

What to look out for when buying a used Audi A6 Mk 4

With most of the latest generation of A6s still under warranty, any glitches that have cropped up seem to have been mopped up by dealers.

 

The one to buy

Audi A6 2.0 TDI

Factfile

Price:
£30,985
Engine:
1968cc, straight four
Power:
174bhp @ 4200rpm
Torque:
280 lb ft @ 1750rpm
Transmission:
Six-speed manual (eight-speed auto available)
Acceleration:
0-62mph in 8.7sec
Top Speed:
141mph
Fuel
57.6mpg
CO2:
129g/km
Road Tax Band:
D
Dimensions:
L 4915mm W 1874mm H 1455mm

Audi A6 rivals