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
£38,015 - £78,090

Pros

  • Comfortable ride
  • Impressive economy
  • Futuristic technology

Cons

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

The Audi A6 is embroiled in one of the fiercest rivalries in the car market and has been exchanging blows with the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class for decades in the quest for class supremacy. Unfortunately, while the BMW is popularly regarded as 'the sporty one' and the Mercedes 'the luxurious one', the Audi's forte has never been quite so clear-cut.

This makes life very difficult for the A6, particularly with the advent of rivals like the Jaguar XF, Lexus GS and Volvo S90 and with such charismatic competition as the Maserati Ghibli. The latest generation, then, had to not only better its predecessor in every single area, but also introduce an extra element of desirability.

On the face of it, the latter seems to have been achieved with some style. Thanks to a sharp 'single-frame' grille, swept-back headlamps and razor-edge character lines, the overall look is familiar. Critics might say this evolutionary approach is a disappointment, but there's a sense the A6's design was always leading to where it is now. There's no doubting its presence, either – broad flares over the front and rear wheels lend it a sense of visual strength that the previous model never quite possessed.

Step inside and you're immediately aware of the other side of the A6's personality. The interior is likeably low-key, with a retro-inspired instrument pod set into a sleek dashboard with full-width air vents. It looks familiar and welcoming – particularly in lighter colours – but a second glance reveals that its friendly face masks some serious technology.

The full extent of this depends on how many optional extras are fitted, but a fully equipped model presents the driver with a configurable 'Virtual Cockpit' instrument panel, which can show full-colour 3D mapping over much of its expanse. To the right and slightly below is a large, glossy touchscreen that controls the A6's infotainment system by means of touch and swipe gestures, just like a smartphone. There's even 'haptic' feedback, giving you a click or vibration when you select a command.

A third screen is mounted directly below; this controls the air-conditioning and convenience functions and also accepts text inputs for the navigation and communications systems – it's well positioned for this, being more conveniently located than the larger, higher main infotainment screen. Not only is there masses of technology to aid convenience on the move, there's some clever thinking to make driving easier, too. Much of the autonomous technology of the bigger Audi A8 has trickled down to the A6, and its full potential will only be unlocked as legislation evolves to keep up.

One of the clever features just around the corner is remote parking, which allows you to send your car to a parking space by remote control, using a smartphone app. Even from launch, the Tour Assist package combined active cruise control with steering assistance to keep the car in its lane, while City Assist uses sensors to 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 mile-muncher. This is especially the case when Audi's air suspension system is fitted; it does an impressive job of concealing road imperfections, even with big alloys fitted.

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. Entry-level is an all-new, 201bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder '40 TDI' diesel, while a 282bhp 3.0-litre V6 diesel (badged 50 TDI) occupies the next rung on the ladder. High-performance S6 and RS6 models are also offered, and we've reviewed them separately, but the fastest A6 until then in the regular range is a 335bhp 3.0-litre petrol V6-badged 55 TFSI. A 2.0-litre petrol 45 TFSI has also joined the range, producing 261bhp.

The 2.0-litre diesel is expected to be the most popular, and we reckon it's all most buyers will really need. It's fast and quiet, and returns up to 52.3mpg, significantly bettering the 39.2mpg of the 3.0-litre diesel. Being the most in-demand version, it's likely to have the strongest residual values and will be the most cost-effective on a three-year finance deal.

From late 2020, the plug-in hybrid A6 50 TFSI e also became available in the UK, with 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 188.3mpg and cutting CO2 emissions to 35g/km. 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. 

We recommend the Sport trim, as the larger wheels of S Line and Black Edition cars can ruin the ride slightly. Sport offers almost everything you might need, including LED headlights, upgraded navigation, 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, black styling elements and privacy glass. The range-topping Vorsprung grade brings huge 21-inch wheels, all-wheel steering and luxuries including a panoramic sunroof and Bang & Olufsen stereo.

Audi doesn't have everything its own way, however – the brand came a disappointing 21st out of 30 in our 2020 Driver Power survey, but this was still significantly higher than its German rivals. 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.

Which Is Best?

Cheapest

  • Name
    40 TFSI Sport 4dr S Tronic
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £38,015

Most Economical

  • Name
    50 TFSI e 17.9kWh Quattro Sport 4dr S Tronic
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £52,925

Fastest

  • Name
    S6 TDI 349 Quattro 4dr Tip Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £59,890

Recommended

Audi A6 owner reviews
Audi A6
Audi A6
18 Nov 2020

Audi A6 owner reviews

Audi RS6: old vs new
Audi RS6 Avant estate
21 Jul 2020

Audi RS6: old vs new

Most Popular

Svelte look for all-new Range Rover Sport
2022 Range Rover Sport
Range Rover Sport
16 Jun 2021

Svelte look for all-new Range Rover Sport

Best 4x4s and SUVs
Peugeot 3008 SUV rear 3/4 tracking
Family SUVs
3 Jun 2021

Best 4x4s and SUVs

New Lexus NX is brand’s first plug-in hybrid
2021 Lexus NX
Lexus NX
12 Jun 2021

New Lexus NX is brand’s first plug-in hybrid

Best cheap-to-run cars
Toyota Prius front 3/4 cornering
Best cars
10 Jun 2021

Best cheap-to-run cars

Best new car deals 2021
Lexus UX SUV
Deals
18 Jun 2021

Best new car deals 2021

Should you use a car wash?
Car wash pros and cons
Tips and advice
11 Jun 2021

Should you use a car wash?

Best hybrid cars
Toyota Corolla Trek
Best cars
8 Jun 2021

Best hybrid cars

Best cheap cars
Dacia Duster SUV
Best cars
10 Jun 2021

Best cheap cars

Best used cars
Vauxhall Astra
Family cars
14 Jun 2021

Best used cars

Speed awareness course: all you need to know
Police car - open boot
Tips and advice
3 Jun 2021

Speed awareness course: all you need to know

Audi range gets a refresh for 2022
Audi S5 Coupe Black Edition
Audi
14 Jun 2021

Audi range gets a refresh for 2022

New Polestar 3 SUV teased
2022 Polestar 3 teaser
Polestar
16 Jun 2021

New Polestar 3 SUV teased

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?
PCP vs HP
Tips and advice
15 Jun 2021

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?

Ford EcoBoost engines: what are they and should you buy one?
2020 Ford Puma - front tracking
Ford Focus hatchback
4 Jun 2021

Ford EcoBoost engines: what are they and should you buy one?

More on A6

China’s cheekiest copycat cars
Range Rover Evoque SUV
30 Aug 2017

China’s cheekiest copycat cars

Imitation is more than just flattery in the Chinese car market – it’s big business
Audi A6 Avant estate (2011-2018)
Audi A6 Avant estate
27 Jan 2017

Audi A6 Avant estate (2011-2018)

"The Audi A6 Avant is a large executive estate car with great performance and practicality, along with surprising economy"
Volvo XC90 crowned Auto Express Car of the Year
Volvo XC90 SUV
30 Jun 2015

Volvo XC90 crowned Auto Express Car of the Year

The new Volvo XC90 fought off strong opposition to be named Car of the Year and Best Large SUV.
Audi A6 S line
Fahraufnahme Farbe: Dakotagrau</br><font size="2"><b>Verbrauchsangaben Audi A6 Limousine:</b></br>Kraftstoffverbrauch kombiniert in l/100 km: 7,6 - 4,2;</br>CO<sub>2</sub>-Emission kombiniert
Audi A6
16 Apr 2015

Audi A6 S line

"All things considered, the Audi A6 S line is the best trim to go for in the range. Its diesel engines are all economical and it costs less than simil…
Lexus GS F blasts in with 467bhp
Lexus GS saloon
6 Jan 2015

Lexus GS F blasts in with 467bhp

The Lexus GS F promises 467bhp and a 0-62mph time of around 4.5 seconds
New Audi A6 2015 price and specs
Audi A6 saloon
23 Oct 2014

New Audi A6 2015 price and specs

The new Audi A6 gets more equipment and more economical engines - capable of an impressive 67.3mpg
Audi A6 Black Edition
Audi A6
10 Oct 2014

Audi A6 Black Edition

The Audi A6 Black Edition looks great and comes mated to some brilliant TDI diesel engines. Watch the options list though, as prices can sky-rocket if…
Audi A6 saloon (2004-2011)
Audi A6 saloon
18 Jul 2013

Audi A6 saloon (2004-2011)

"The Audi A6 is one of the oldest cars in Audi’s line up, but its practicality, interior space and build quality means it’s just as desirable as it ha…
Audi A6 Allroad Quattro estate (2006-2011)
Audi RS6 Avant estate
28 Jun 2013

Audi A6 Allroad Quattro estate (2006-2011)

"Well built and comfortable, the four-wheel-drive Audi A6 allroad is a practical alternative to a full-sized 4x4"
Audi A6 Avant estate (2005-2011)
Audi RS6 Avant estate
28 Jun 2013

Audi A6 Avant estate (2005-2011)

"With its big boot and smooth ride, the A6 Avant is a great estate car that’s designed first and foremost to be comfortable."  
Car deal of the week: Audi A6
Audi A6 saloon 2013 front quarter tracking
Audi A6 saloon
22 May 2013

Car deal of the week: Audi A6

Get thousands of pounds towards your deposit on a brand-new Audi A6

Tips & advice

View All
Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide
Car dashboard symbols and meanings
Tips and advice
13 Apr 2021

Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide
Electric car charging station
Tips and advice
3 Jun 2021

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?
PCP vs HP
Tips and advice
15 Jun 2021

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?

Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Tips and advice
24 Feb 2021

Average speed cameras: how do they work?

Best cars

View All
Best car interiors
Best cars
10 Mar 2020

Best car interiors

Best electric cars
Volkswagen ID.3
Best cars
6 May 2021

Best electric cars

Best cheap-to-run cars
Toyota Prius front 3/4 cornering
Best cars
10 Jun 2021

Best cheap-to-run cars

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks
Hot hatches
9 Apr 2020

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks