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In-depth reviews

Audi A6 saloon (2011-2018)

"The Audi A6 is a large executive saloon with an impressive interior and efficient engines. Several updates have kept it competitive, too"

Carbuyer Rating

4.1 out of 5

Owners Rating

4.3 out of 5

Read owner reviews
Price
£44,495 - £85,665

Pros

  • Ultra version is extremely cheap to run
  • Grippy quattro four-wheel drive
  • High-quality interior

Cons

  • Expensive optional extras
  • Firm suspension on S line models
  • Not as much fun as a BMW 5 Series

Audi's large executive saloon bears a very close resemblance to its smaller Audi A4 and bigger Audi A8 brothers. It brings the brand's cool, crisp and understated look to battle against the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class in a three-way tussle that's been raging for decades, while also attracting buyers away from the Volvo S90 and Lexus GS.

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While each of those cars has its virtues, they share the attributes of low running costs and a comfortable ride – factors that are appreciated by those who regularly travel long distances. The A6 line-up consists of the saloon, the A6 Avant estate and the powerful Audi RS6 Avant and Audi S6 models – both of which are performance models that we've reviewed separately. There's also the Audi A6 Allroad quattro, which serves as a tempting alternative to a medium-sized luxury SUV.

The bulk of the saloon range is powered by 2.0 and 3.0-litre diesel engines making between 188 and 316bhp. The least powerful 2.0-litre TDI Ultra combines 67.3mpg fuel economy (when the S tronic automatic gearbox is fitted) with a 0-62mph time of 8.2 seconds. CO2 emissions of 109g/km mean a reasonable 23% Benefit-in-Kind company-car tax rating. If you're more interested in power than economy, the 3.0-litre TDI can be chosen in 268bhp single-turbo or 316bhp BiTDI twin-turbo forms – the latter can blast to 62mph from rest in just five seconds at the expense of a 47.1mpg thirst for fuel.

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In truth, none of the Audi A6 engines feels the least bit sluggish, but the petrol S6 takes performance several steps beyond the diesel models. Its 4.0-litre TFSI V8 churns out 444bhp and only returns 30mpg, but makes amends with a 4.4-second 0-62mph time and an aggressive roar from its exhaust when you make full use of its performance. The S6, along with the 3.0-litre diesels, uses Audi's quattro four-wheel-drive system, which can be added to 2.0-litre A6s as an option.

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Every A6 feels most at home on motorways and fast A-roads; the car is better suited to wide, flowing turns than twisty back roads. In this regard, the Audi is shown up a little by the BMW 5 Series and Jaguar XF, both of which have more to offer the enthusiastic driver. However, the A6 is still capable of getting a move on when you want, with a 'drive select' control to adjust feel and response.

You may prefer to sit back and take it easy, though, because the A6 has always made a strong case for itself on the comfort and quality of its interior alone. There are SE Executive, S Line and Black Edition trim levels, all of which are very comprehensively equipped as standard, with sat nav, four-zone air-conditioning and heated leather seats, and can be further enhanced with options from an extensive list. S line and Black Edition add sporty styling inside and out, the latter having enormous 20-inch wheels and a look all of its own.

There's good news, too, in how the A6 rides. It formerly had a reputation for a rather firm, bumpy feel, but you can now choose the S line with comfort-orientated 'dynamic' suspension for no charge, which makes for a far smoother passenger experience. If you choose the adaptive suspension, the softest mode is particularly comfortable, while a stiffer mode can be selected for sharper reflexes on challenging roads.

Your A6 ownership experience ought to be satisfying. While the car only finished mid-table in our 2017 Driver Power ownership survey, drivers love its engines and comfort. However, good fuel economy has to be balanced against the fact that servicing costs are a little steep. The A6 also holds a five-star crash safety rating from Euro NCAP, although it's rather a shame that so much driver-assistance equipment – including autonomous emergency braking – should be reserved for the options list.

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Which Is Best?

Cheapest

  • Name
    40 TFSI Sport 4dr S Tronic
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £38,230

Most Economical

  • Name
    50 TFSI e 17.9kWh Quattro Sport 4dr S Tronic
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £54,515

Fastest

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

Richard is a former editor of Carbuyer, as well as sister site DrivingElectric.com, and he's now Deputy Editor at Auto Express. Having spent a decade working in the automotive industry, he understands exactly what makes new car buyers tick.

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