Audi A6 saloon (2011-2018) - Engines, drive & performance

The Audi A6 is a fast and capable cruiser, but it’s not exactly inspiring to drive

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Engines, drive & performance Rating

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Audi has ensured the A6 is a relaxed and comfortable cruiser, with light steering and suspension that absorbs motorway imperfections. Most models can be fitted with Audi’s quattro four-wheel-drive system, which gives the car extra grip and makes it more accomplished at towing, but doesn’t make the driving experience any more exciting.

To get the most comfortable setup, choose the Dynamic suspension (standard on the SE Executive model and a no-cost option elsewhere in the range) and the smaller 17-inch alloy wheels, which offers a ride far smoother than you'd experience in previous A6 models.

Going for bigger wheels and sports suspension does give the A6 a little more feel in corners, but in reality, no matter what combination of wheel size and suspension you go for, the BMW 5 Series is the better drive. It’s an easy victory for the BMW thanks to its well-weighted, positive steering and balanced handling. The BMW is also the only car in the class that’s better suited to a manual gearbox.

Audi A6 diesel engines

Despite being one of the entry-level models in the range, the A6 Ultra diesel can get from 0-62mph in a shade over eight seconds. The Ultra’s smaller wheels (compared to S line models) and softer suspension setup make it extremely comfortable and the move to fibreglass springs doesn’t seem to have affected ride quality.

While the Ultra should be quick enough for most, the 3.0-litre diesel models – and the performance they offer – are possibly more befitting of a classy executive saloon such as the A6. The top-of-the range bi-turbo has the performance to see off a hot hatch such as the Golf GTI, getting from 0-62mph in just five seconds and hitting a limited top speed of 155mph. There’s no petrol engine offered in the standard A6 – only in the high-performance S6 model.

Audi offers the A6 with a choice of three gearboxes. The 2.0-litre TDi is the only engine offered with a six-speed manual;while the seven-speed S tronic suits the car’s relaxed nature and it’s quick to change down when you spot an overtaking opportunity. The eight-speed Tiptronic gearbox is only available on the top-of-the-range twin-turbo diesel.

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