Audi A6 saloon - Interior & comfort
The Audi A6 is best-in-class for comfort, convenience, technology and interior quality
The previous section highlighted just how smoothly the latest A6 rides, but now we come to how eerily quiet it is inside. This is thanks to careful consideration of where sound insulation is applied and the window glass is now thicker than it used to be, to let less noise through. Internal vibrations have been reduced, too, thanks to a stiffened body.
Audi A6 dashboard
The A6 represents a big step forwards in interior design, technology and connectivity – not just for the A6 itself, but for the executive-car class as a whole. However, the full extent of technology on offer depends on how many boxes you tick on the order form.
Audi's 'Virtual Cockpit' configurable instrument cluster is available as part of a Technology Pack. This presents all the usual driving information on a digital display ahead of you, with the option of showing 3D map data with speed and other information overlaid.
Navigation information can also be displayed on the high-definition central display, which measures 10.1 inches across the diagonal, when the MMI Plus navigation option is specified. This screen is one of the hallmark features of the car, using gesture-recognition technology to interpret touch inputs and also providing haptic and acoustic feedback when a command is selected. There's also voice control, which is said to understand 'human language', so you needn't stick to carefully memorised phrases, unlike previous voice-recognition systems.
Below this is a narrower 8.6-inch screen that controls the car's comfort and convenience functions, which include climate control. It's also used to input text into the infotainment system, where its location low down in the centre console means you can brace your hand comfortably to use it, rather than stabbing at a high-mounted touchscreen as used to be the case in the old car.
Before you've discovered all its technology, though, the A6 impresses with its sheer feeling of interior quality and design thoughtfulness. Touches like the full-width air vents don't just look good, but work very well, too, and what could be a very tech-heavy, intimidating interior is actually low-key and easy to use. The materials used are top-drawer, too; you have to look long and hard to find a sharp edge or dubious panel join.
There are now four trim levels for the A6, called Sport, S line, Black Edition and Vorsprung, all of which are lavishly equipped. The standard model comes with an 8.8-inch upper and 8.6-inch lower touchscreen, 18-inch alloy wheels, LED exterior lighting, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats and a rear-view camera.
With 19-inch wheels, sports suspension and different front and rear bumpers, the S line looks more athletic. Inside there are brushed aluminium trim fillets and sports seats upholstered in leather and Alcantara with electric adjustment. The headlights are also upgraded to Matrix LEDs that automatically adjust for traffic and road conditions, while the rear lights gain 'dynamic' sweeping indicators.
Black Edition cars add a few black styling elements, 20-inch wheels, privacy glass and a flat-bottomed leather steering wheel. Even bigger 21-inch alloys are fitted to the Vorsprung, along with all-wheel steering, adaptive air suspension, sports seats and luxury features including a panoramic sunroof and a Bang & Olufsen stereo. Audi's Technology Pack and City Assist Pack are also fitted to the Vorsprung model as standard.
The standard equipment list is impressive, but the options list is downright intimidating. While UK entry-level cars may have more standard kit than those offered in other markets, Audi lists the 12.3-inch 'Virtual Cockpit' dashboard as an option. The same is true of the 10.1-inch infotainment screen that comes as part of the MMI Navigation Plus system – an 8.8-inch screen is standard. These can be grouped together by getting the Technology Pack, that also includes wireless charging and costs around £1,500.
MMI Navigation Plus is one of the most advanced infotainment systems this class has to offer. As well as the expected navigation and media functions, the system boasts a 'route learning' capability, as well as real-time traffic avoidance. Both of these require a constant cellular data connection, which can also support high-speed internet.
The possibilities of the technology are more impressive when you consider that Audis to which it's fitted can communicate with one another, sharing information about traffic hazards and the like as part of a 'swarm intelligence' capability. A parking space alert capability will be offered in due course.
The same is true of the optional remote parking capability, which will be rolled out after launch. It enables you to step out of the car and use the MyAudi smartphone app to park it in a space or garage. The technology makes use of the same sensors that enable Audi's 'adaptive cruise assist' feature to work, combining active cruise control with gentle steering interventions to help the car stay in lane while matching the speed of the car in front.
Other options include a Bang & Olufsen surround-sound stereo with 16 speakers and an output of 730 watts.