Review

Audi A6 saloon

Price  £31,955 - £56,000

Audi A6 saloon

reviewed by Carbuyer

Pros
  • Ultra version is extremely cheap to run
  • Good-quality interior
  • Comfortable ride
Cons
  • Not as much fun to drive as a BMW
  • Firm suspension on S line models
  • Expensive optional extras

At a glance

The greenest
2.0 TDI 190PS Ultra SE S tronic 4dr £33,485
The cheapest
2.0 TDI 190PS Ultra SE 4dr £31,955
The fastest
4.0 TFSI quattro 4dr £56,000
Top of the range
4.0 TFSI quattro 4dr £56,000

"The Audi A6 is the brand's answer to the BMW 5 Series – and this version is the best yet."

The Audi A6 is an executive saloon car with excellent build quality and a huge range of engines that now includes the super-economical Ultra TDI diesel model. Rivals for the A6 include the BMW 5 Series, Lexus GS and Mercedes E-Class.

If you want an executive car that's fun to drive, you may prefer the Jaguar XF or brilliant BMW 5 Series, but the fast Audi S6 can still get from 0-62mph in just 4.6 seconds. Buyers can also fit their A6 with the brand's renowned quattro four-wheel-drive system for excellent grip in tricky road conditions. However, the simple 2.0-litre TDI offers plenty of punch and loads of grip – and is the model to go for if you value a decent mix of performance versus running costs.

There's a huge range of models to choose from in the Audi A6 range, all of which are reasonably well equipped. Even the basic SE model includes cruise control, sat nav, climate control, a leather interior and a powerful stereo.

MPG, running costs & CO2

4.4 / 5

The Audi A6 Ultra features a fuel-sipping 2.0-litre TDI diesel engine returning more than 67mpg

The extremely efficient 2.0-litre diesel is our pick of the Audi A6 saloon engine range. It can return fuel economy of nearly 67.3mpg and its CO2 emissions of 109g/km mean road tax costs just £20 a year. That’s very impressive for a large and heavy saloon car. The 3.0-litre diesel offers more performance, but the 215bhp version is still good for 60.1mpg. All things considered, it's clear that Audi has concentrated on making its new A6 one of the most economical executive cars on the market.

Since the end of 2014, Audi has only offered diesel engines in the standard A6. If you really want a petrol-powered Audi, you'll have to stump up for the powerful S6 or RS6 versions. The former claims to return as much as 30mpg, and will go from 0-62mph in just 4.4 seconds. If you can afford to run it, it really does offer effortless everyday performance.

How much your A6 will cost to service depends on the model. Cars fitted with 2.0-litre engines are charged £159 for a basic service or £309 for a major one. Larger-engined models pay £189 and £375 respectively. Insurance runs from group 27 for the 2.0-litre diesel to group 43 for the sporty S6.

Engines, drive & performance

4.3 / 5

The Audi A6 offers decent performance from all engines across the range

To keep weight down, the Germans have used aluminium to build the Audi A6 – and as a result it feel enormously agile. It can’t match the BMW 5 Series for driving thrills, but the latest version isn't far off. Treat the A6 as a comfortable cruiser and it makes lots of sense.

The best version to go for is the Ultra diesel, which, despite being one of the entry-level models, can get from 0-62mph in a shade over eight seconds. The Ultra’s smaller wheels (compared to S Line models) and softer suspension make it extremely comfortable, and if you opt for the smooth-shifting automatic gearbox it rivals the Lexus GS for its wafty ride.

There are plenty of engine options to go for if you want more performance. The 3.0-litre supercharged petrol engine in the S6 saloon takes the car from 0-62mph in just 4.4 seconds, while the faster versions of the 3.0-litre diesel are much more economical and can get from 0-62mph in as little as 5.0 seconds.

Interior & comfort

4.2 / 5

Long motorway journeys are a breeze if you specify the Audi A6's standard suspension

The interior of the Audi A6 is one of its best features. It feels better-built than all of its rivals, thanks to plenty of soft-touch plastics and plush interior finishes. The controls are laid out logically and many of the car’s functions are operated via Audi’s intuitive MMI control system. Unbelievably, a 2014 refresh upped the ante even further – with even higher-quality materials and ergonomic touches.

Full adjustment for both the steering wheel and driver’s seat makes it easy to find a comfortable driving position and all models come with front and rear parking sensors. The only black mark on the Audi A6's brilliant interior is the slightly frustrating MMI scroll wheel, which turns in the opposite direction to what feels natural. You get used to it, but it's an annoyance that Audi should've ironed out.

Even if you go for the basic diesel SE model, the Audi’s interior is well insulated from engine, road and wind noise. Sporty S line models don’t offer the same comfort because of their larger alloy wheels and stiffer suspension, which transfer more of the bumps in the road into the cabin than the setup on SE models.

Practicality & boot space

4 / 5

The Audi A6 has a bigger boot than a BMW 5 Series and plenty of interior storage

Front-seat passengers in the Audi A6 are unlikely to feel short-changed, as there's plenty of head and legroom. Large windows mean that the Audi feels airier inside than some of its rivals. There’s also plenty of head, leg and shoulder room in the back.

Boot space is good, too – the Audi’s 530-litre capacity beats the BMW 5 Series and is only slightly behind what you get in the Mercedes E-Class. Drop the rear seats down and boot space grows to 995 litres. As with any saloon, the Audi A6 suffers from a small boot opening and quite a high lip, but if you want a more practical luggage carrier you’d be better off going for the Audi A6 Avant estate.

As many A6s are used as regular family transport, there are plenty of smaller cubbyholes dotted around the interior, including a lidded storage area between the two front seats, cup-holders, door bins and a decent-sized glove box.

Reliability & safety

4 / 5

All Audi A6 models should be very reliable and extremely safe

Audis are quite expensive, but they have an excellent record for reliability and the A6 finished 26th out of 150 cars in our Driver Power owner satisfaction survey, climbing one place from its 2013 showing. Owners rated the A6 highly for reliability, build quality, performance and standard equipment.

You'd expect the A6 to be safe and the car comes with six airbags, seatbelt warning buzzers, tyre-pressure monitors and electronic stability control. That safety kit helped it score the maximum five stars when it was crash-tested by Euro NCAP. Buyers can improve safety with optional extras such as the company’s technology package. At £3,250, it's pricey, but it includes active cruise control – which can keep a safe distance back from the car in front – a blind-spot warning system and active lane-keeping assistance.

Price, value for money & options

3.6 / 5

Add optional extras to your new Audi A6 and the list price will soon spiral

The SE model is the most basic version of the Audi A6, but it comes with a huge amount of standard equipment, including 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, a powerful stereo, a DAB digital radio, sat nav and Audi’s Drive Select system, which allows you to set the car up for performance or comfort.

S line models add electrically adjustable lumber support for their upgraded sports seats, a three-spoke steering wheel, 18-inch alloy wheels and a sporty bodykit. The car also has sports suspension, but customers can revert to the more comfortable SE setup at no extra cost. Aside from the S6, the Black Edition models have the most striking looks of all thanks to their 20-inch alloy wheels and a de-chromed exterior.

There are loads of extras to choose from, some of which are very expensive. They include a Bang and Olufsen stereo (£6,300), a panoramic sunroof (£1,225) and full LED headlights (£2,500). The Ultra diesel has the strongest second-hand values: you can expect it to hold on to 46% of its original price over three years or 36,000 miles, compared to the 49% of an equivalent BMW 5 Series.

What the others say

3.8 / 5
based on 2 reviews
4 / 5
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.
3.5 / 5
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.
Last updated 
24 Oct 2014

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