First drive: Audi’s updated A6 is capable and refined

Audi improves its mid-size saloon, even some of the tech might be a bit too clever.

By Paul Gover, November 29 2019
First drive: Audi’s updated A6 is capable and refined

Cruising through the Adelaide hills is the ideal way to get to know and appreciate the latest edition of Audi’s A6 luxury saloon.

Wafting through the curves and crests of the South Australian countryside en route to a trendy new winery is exactly the sort of drive for a car of its stature to show off its ability.

It is cushy and comfortable, quiet and refined, and there is plenty of space for two couples to enjoy a day or a weekend in wine country. The boot is easily big enough to accommodate a few dozen of the local product in addition to overnight bags.

The new A6 has been renewed as Audi kicks off a solid run of fresh arrivals; it’s also the teaser for a mid-sized family to include fresh A7 coupes, the Allroad wagon, and eventually a belting RS6 that typically meshes supercar performance with a stealthy station wagon body.

They will flow through to showrooms through the middle and later months of next year.

For now, there is a single body and the company’s signature quattro all-wheel drive, with two turbo engines receiving some mild hybrid assistance as Audi dives deeper into electrification.

The net result isn’t dramatic, but the headlining A6 55 TFSI gets a worthwhile fuel economy boost and can even coast with the engine turned off at up to 22km/h.

Shape shifting

The shape of the new A6 is evolution ahead of revolution, although there is a giant signature grille that is typical in a world where carmakers like to make a visual impact, and the external mirrors have migrated from the A-pillar to the doors to cut noise and improve the view.

The revised body shape results in more strength and crash protection that helps with a five-star safety rating, plus more leg and head room in the back seat, and greater capacity in the boot.

Inside, the look is unsurprisingly smooth and refined. The dash is set a little lower, there are three big digital screens – with the main central display angled slightly towards the driver – and upscale materials on everything you see and touch.

At the cutting edge

On the technology front, the A6 is at the cutting edge for Audi. That means everything from cameras and sensors for safety, 24/7 connectivity for internet access and even back-to-base safety alerts, as well as a change in the way everything is operated.

This means dropping the rotary-style controller in the centre console, de rigeur for upscale brands since BMW’s original iDrive, in favour of haptic buttons that give tactile feedback.

Audi Australia says the technology in the A6 will be rolled into its other models, to boost safety but also to make it easier to have the fully-connected car that customers now expect in their driveway.

On that front, Audi says buyers of the A6 are a little different from its other owners as they are more likely to be men, slightly older, and with a high proportion of university degrees and management jobs.

It says they are ideal for the migration to the new technology in the A6, as well as appreciating the underlying craft and quality in the car.

A choice of two engines

The A6 launches in Australia with the 45 TFSI and 55 TFSI models, both with turbocharged petrol engines with a seven-speed automatic gearbox.

Standard equipment runs up from 19-inch alloys and auto aircon on the 45 TFSI through 21-inch wheels, a head-up instrument display, a trendy flat-bottom steering wheel, three-zone aircon and a huge panoramic sunroof for the 55 TFSI.

The starting price has been reduced to $95,500, and Audi says it has boosted the value by $13,000 with a significant lift in the standard equipment list.

It’s all welcome stuff as we drive away from Adelaide airport, opening the action in the basic A6 before moving up through a car with the S line package and then the full-loaded 55.

Hitting the sweet spot

Compared with some other Audis, which can be either too rorty or a touch bland, the new A6 hits the sweet spot for driving enjoyment.

It is a cruiser with real comfort and all the luxury you need, rides smoothly on all surfaces, and can swish along if you want to play.

The 45 has plenty of go, but shifting up to the 55 means more punch from the lights and serious shove for overtaking without becoming too hard-core for relaxation.

The quietness is welcome and so is the general feel, from the materials to the ability to cover long distances with zero stress.

Some of the driver-assistance systems can become over-eager, especially the lane-keeping assist which has an aversion to any painted white line, and it takes a long time to learn and appreciate the many layers to the new infotainment system. For me, the haptic buttons are a backward step.

Still, if you plan on taking a Sydney-to-Melbourne run – or even want to be cosseted on the daily inner-city commute – the new A6 is in most respects a great way to travel.

Paul Gover

As Motoring Editor for Executive Traveller, Paul Gover spends less time at his Gold Coast home than he does on the road (literally) test-driving the best of the four-wheel world.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 718

I'm jealous Paul ( but a good read).

29 Nov 2019

Total posts 2

Looks OK with lots of cool tech, any idea on outputs and economy etc?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

31 Jan 2016

Total posts 89

Waiting for the RS6 and lotto/powerball win, however the A6 would be ok for now... :)

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