Audi A6 saloon
Audi A6 saloon
Price £30,985 - £54,520
- Efficient engines
- Good quality interior
- Hi-tech standard kit
- Not as fun to drive as a BMW
- Firm suspension on S line models
- Expensive optional extras
At a glance
"The Audi A6 is the brand's answer to the BMW 5 Series – and this version is the best yet."
The Audi A6 is a large executive saloon that is a rival for the Mercedes E-Class, BMW 5 Series and Jaguar XF. It has a smart appearance outside, which continues inside with an interior that is often thought to be the best in class, thanks to its refined look and solid construction.
Audi has given the A6 an excellent range of engines, which includes the brilliant and economical diesel Ultra model and the very quick but expensive-to-run RS6 (available as an estate, only). The latter can get from 0-60mph in just 3.9 seconds – faster than plenty of sports cars. It, and numerous other models, comes fitted with Audi's quattro four-wheel-drive system, which means you get excellent grip, even on very slippery roads.
As you would expect of a an executive car, even the basic SE model gets loads of kit but spend extra and the A6 can be had with clever equipment such as active cruise control, sat-nav and plenty more clever pieces of technology, although none of it is particularly cheap.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Incredible 2.0-litre TDI diesel Ultra model returns nearly 65mpg
If you’re after an A6 that is cheap to run then the newly-introduced Ultra model is the car to have. It can manage nearly 65mpg, while emitting 114g/km of CO2 so that road tax is just £30 annually. The Ultra model is also surprisingly quick and costs nothing over and above the old 2.0-litre TDI. If you want more speed, the larger 3.0-litre diesel has it in spades and it is still good for 50mpg.
The quickest model by far is the RS6, which has a turbocharged 4.0-litre petrol engine; no prizes for guessing that it is expensive to run and you’ll be lucky to get 28mpg even driving carefully.
Audi is a premium brand, so servicing cost won’t be the cheapest. However, the firm does offer fixed prices on regular maintenance, so at least there should be no nasty surprises.
Interior & comfort
Long motorway journeys are a breeze if you specify the standard suspension
Get in the Audi A6 and – as with any other Audi – you’ll be greeted by an interior that feels beautifully built. Not only that, but Audi has also made it extremely intuitive to use, while the wide range of adjustment, available even on the base model, means that getting comfy behind the wheel shouldn’t be difficult.
Out on the road, the SE models are the ones to go for if you want suspension that smoothes out the road. Audi offers a range of setups, but the alternative S line models are sportier, with a firmer ride that might not suit everyone and doesn’t offer up much of an advantage when it comes to limiting body lean in the corners. The top spec RS6 model, meanwhile, offers a range of settings to make the car comfy or sporty.
Practicality & boot space
Bigger boot than a BMW 5 Series and plenty of interior storage
Space for adults is excellent, thanks to the latest A6 being slightly wider than the car it replaces, and there is plenty of room for two in the back. The middle seat in the rear might feel a little tight for some when it comes to shoulder room, but even this shouldn’t be too bad.
With 530-litres of capacity, the Audi's boot is generously sized – being bigger than the BMW 5 Series’ and just a little smaller than the Mercedes E-Class’. Drop down the back seats and you get a 995 litre load bay, but the small boot opening means loading bulky items can be tricky. That's a problem that's easily solved by opting for the Audi A6 Avant estate.
Just as you would expect, there are numerous storage areas hidden in the cabin, including a lidded cubbyhole between the front seats, cupholders, door bins and a decent-sized glovebox.
Reliability & safety
Very reliable and extremely safe, too
Audi has a well-won reputation for solid quality and the A6 lives up to this. It scored well in our 2014 Driver Power survey to come 26th out of 150 cars – moving up one place from its 2013 result. It scored highly for reliability, build quality, performance, and equipment.
A five-star rating from Euro NCAP is almost a given in this class of car and the A6 got full marks when it was tested. All models get six airbags, seatbelt warning buzzers, tyre pressure monitoring and electronic stability control. If you are prepared to venture into the options list you can also get features such as lane-keep assist, which gently keeps the car in lane if it senses drift, and active cruise control, which can raise and lower the car's set cruising speed to match the vehicle in front.
Engines, drive & performance
Punchy performance from all engines across the range
The Audi is good to drive but its rival the BMW 5 Series is the car to go for if you really enjoy driving.
In truth, no A6 could ever be described as slow and even the most economical TDI Ultra diesel can go from 0-60mph in a shade over eight seconds, while the RS6 is lightening fast – going from 0-60mph in just 3.9 seconds. In fact, if the RS6 wasn’t limited to 155mph, it would be capable of 200mph.
Not many people will want to pay for that model's huge running costs though, so a tantalising compromise comes in the form of the 3.0-litre diesel, which almost doubles the RS6's economy and has plenty of performance for overtaking.
Price, value for money & options
Add optional extras and the list price will soon spiral
The A6 range starts with the basic SE model, but calling it ‘basic’ is a little unfair as it gets a spec list as long as your arm, including dual-zone climate control, a powerful stereo with a DAB radio, sat-nav, and Audi's Drive Select system, which allows you to set up the car for comfort or performance.
Although the S line models come with firm suspension, the softer SE set up is available at no extra cost and the model gets additions such as sports seats that are electrically adjustable, a leather interior, and bright Xenon headlights. Meanwhile, the Black Edition model gets huge 20-inch alloy wheels and a de-chromed exterior.
What the others say
It’s certainly a lot better looking than its predecessor – even if it does look like a slightly smaller A8. Its aerodynamic shape boasts some sharp surfacing and a lovely curved roofline, while the neat taillights and that bold grille with its smart LED daytime running lights really finish things off. Inside, the baby A8 feel continues. The dashboard sweeps classily across the facia, the centre console is logically laid out and all the materials, from metals to plastics to leathers, are of a really high standard.
The surprise is that the lowliest A6 is actually a lot more entertaining. In fact it's the pick of the range for a good time, because it feels the most natural. The 2.0 TDI engine makes a lively 175bhp, and matched to the standard six-speed manual it involves you in the driving process in a way the DSG-only 3.0 TFSI doesn't.
Going down the budget route on the engine front in this segment usually involves major compromises on the performance and refinement fronts. But this tried-and-trusted VW group two-litre common rail unit is well known for its smoothness as well as pulling power, delivering a healthy 280lb ft, only five percent less torque than its three-litre brethren.