In-depth reviews

Audi A6 saloon review

"The sleek Audi A6 looks familiar, but there's cutting-edge technology under the surface"

Carbuyer Rating

4.3 out of 5

Owners Rating

4.0 out of 5

Read owner reviews
Price
£38,680 - £78,755

Pros

  • Comfortable ride
  • Impressive economy
  • Futuristic technology

Cons

  • Evolutionary style
  • Expensive options
  • Not a 'drivers' car'

The Audi A6 is an alternative to the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class; the three popular models have been vying for a similar set of executive and business-class customers for decades. It’s clear that the BMW is known as the sporty model and the Mercedes is known as the luxurious one but the Audi’s role isn’t quite as clear-cut.

There are other rivals in this class too, including the Jaguar XF, Lexus ES and Volvo S90, but really all are superseded by the German trio. This latest version of the A6 is the best yet, thanks to its smart interior, hi-tech equipment and a broad range of engines. Meanwhile, electric alternatives include the Mercedes EQE and Tesla Model S.

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The A6’s design helps it to stand out from the crowd; its sharp-looking bodywork, distinctive headlights and large grille mean that it manages to be understated yet still very stylish for those who take time for a second look. It does depend on the trim level, too - high-spec cars tend to have flashier trim and large alloy wheels.

The interior is even more impressive than the exterior. The materials inside are of a high quality, so it feels as upmarket as you would expect of an expensive saloon car. The design is simple but classy and best of all there is a huge amount of technology inside, some of which is shared with the more expensive Audi A8.

Every version of the Audi A6 features not one but three screens in the front. Audi’s Virtual Cockpit digital dials are standard and impressive in their execution, while the main infotainment screen sits above a second touchscreen which you’ll use for climate control. The gearstick has a hand rest on the top to make it easier to operate the lower screen. While the top screen is perfectly integrated into the dashboard, having it higher would make it easier to see - although the Virtual Cockpit display is so good that you could just use that.

The lower screen can be used to type in addresses for the sat-nav using haptic feedback (it feels like pressing a button rather than a screen). There is plenty of other tech you can’t see immediately too, including semi-autonomous driving technology.

One of the clever features is remote parking, which allows you to send your car to a parking space by remote control, using a smartphone app. You can add the Tour Pack to get active cruise control with steering assistance to keep the car in its lane, or the City Assist pack to get sensors that look out for traffic crossing your path and apply the brakes if necessary.

The A6 goes beyond cold, calculating technology, though – it's genuinely enjoyable to travel in. It's not the most invigorating car to drive, but few models can match it as a smooth, quiet and relaxing motorway cruiser.

The available engines all make use of 'mild-hybrid' technology, which allows the A6 to coast without the engine running. It'll then restart when acceleration is called for, and Audi claims at least a 5% efficiency increase from this system alone. The engine range has recently been slimmed down, so there are now two petrol engines and a diesel to pick from, plus a plug-in hybrid that we’ll talk about further down.

The ‘40 TDI’ is now the sole choice if you want a diesel engine, and all versions now come with Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system. Previously, this 201bhp 2.0-litre engine was also available with two-wheel drive, which made it slightly cheaper to buy and run. It’s bookended by the 40 TFSI and 45 TFSI petrols, and the latter comes with quattro as standard, too. These used to be joined by 3.0-litre V6 petrol and diesel engines, badged 55 TFSI and 50 TDI respectively. It’s probably no surprise that the A6 has long been automatic-only.

High-performance Audi S6 and Audi RS6 Avant models are also offered, and we've reviewed them separately.

The 2.0-litre diesel is fast, quiet and returns up to 50.4mpg, significantly better than the 40mpg of the 3.0-litre diesel. It’s cost-effective and great for motorway trips, though if you drive in town you’ll probably want a plug-in hybrid model instead.

The plug-in hybrid A6 50 TFSI e uses a 14.1kWh battery and electric motor along with its 2.0-litre petrol engine. This gives it an electric range of around 25 miles, increasing its figures to 256mpg and cutting CO2 emissions to 35g/km in official tests. The latter is a major advantage for business buyers, slashing the cost of Benefit-in-Kind liability for 40% tax payers by around £4,000 a year. The 55 TFSI e Competition was discontinued in 2021; when it was available it was the most powerful PHEV model with 362bhp - 70bhp more than the 50 TFSI e.

We recommend the entry-level Sport trim, as the larger wheels of S Line, Black Edition and Vorsprung cars can make the car more uncomfortable over bumps. Sport offers almost everything you might need, including LED headlights, sat nav, a rear-view camera, leather seats (heated in the front), 2-zone climate control and DAB radio. S Line adds sporty styling and seats, plus larger alloy wheels and Matrix LED headlights, while Black Edition cars feature even larger wheels and black styling elements. The range-topping Vorsprung grade brings huge 21-inch wheels, all-wheel steering and luxuries including a panoramic sunroof and Bang & Olufsen stereo, but doesn’t seem good value at over £20,000 more than the Sport.

Audi doesn't have everything its own way, however – the brand came a disappointing 23rd out of 29 in our 2021 Driver Power survey, the worst result for a premium brand in our survey. Thanks to the A6's strong construction and cutting-edge safety technology, it was awarded a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating.

Does the A6 finally have an edge over the 5 Series and E-Class? It's certainly a consummate all-rounder. The BMW is still the sharper drive and the Mercedes still the most opulent. But the A6 finally has a USP – it's the most sophisticated executive car you can buy.

Next Steps

Which Is Best?

Cheapest

  • Name
    40 TFSI Sport 4dr S Tronic [Tech Pack]
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £38,680

Most Economical

  • Name
    50 TFSI e 17.9kWh Quattro Sport 4dr S Tronic
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £53,590

Fastest

  • Name
    S6 TDI 344 Quattro 4dr Tip Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £60,855

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