Audi A6 2.0TDI SE20 | 04 | 2011Scotcars rating

    Audi raises the stakes in the battle for control in the boardroom car park with new A6


    There’s no doubt about it – Audis are very good cars and I have to confess the R8 is one of my all-time favourites. Across the range – from the entry level A1, through the stylish TT, the big and beefy Q7 to the luxury A8 – they have created some great cars and over a relatively short space of time have become an aspirational brand which has given fellow Germans, Mercedes and BMW, a serious run for their money.

    The new executive saloon, the A6, has gone in an interesting new direction to take account of the growing demand for economy and efficiency. The car is still aimed at the company director or manager – almost all will be driven by business people and 20% of them will own their company – but a huge amount of work has been done to make the car as light and economical as possible. The new A6 has been redesigned from the ground up using advanced lightweight construction techniques, such as aluminium and steel composites, which have reduced the body shell weight by 15% and cut it overall by more than 140 kilos. Other efficiency measures like transmission fluid heating, start-stop, energy recovery and thermal management have improved economy by up to 19% over the current model and reduced CO2 by 30%.

    But that’s not all. Residual values are predicted to be the best in the class and coupled with the lowest running costs and benefit-in-kind tax, it’s easy to see why it appeals to the private business buyer. There’s also the option of lots of toys, although there’s a high price to pay for your fun. The test car was on-the-road at just a touch over £30k but by the time the extras were added, the final price tag was nearer £38k but it’s possible to spend a small fortune on what’s available.

    On the road

    The new car comes with a range of four engine choices, but by far the biggest seller – around 75% of all sales – will be the 2.0TDI. Just around the corner is an A6 hybrid which will combine the 2.0TFSI petrol engine with an electric motor and it’s expected to slash CO2 emissions, achieve economy of around 46mpg and still have 242bhp of power on hand for lively performance.

    The test car was the popular 2.0 turbodiesel with a manual six speed transmission which I drove after clocking up a few miles in the bigger 3.0. I found the larger engine a touch disappointing, while the 2.0 felt better balanced and more sensible. The 3.0 models come with the option of latest version of the quattro four-wheel-drive system, which is undoubtedly the best yet for year-round safety and security on the road — and as we saw over the past winter, essential to keep you moving, whatever the weather — but it does add around £5000 to the price.

    Even on the front-wheel-drive versions there are big improvements in handling with new energy efficient electromechanical power steering combined with lightweight suspension which creates a feeling of better response and precision. As you’d expect, it drives well and the only criticism I would have, which I admit seems unfair, is that it is very predictable – but maybe that’s because all the toys were working well to keep me safe and secure.

    Comfort & Safety

    On the predictable theme, it is superbly comfortable and I’m sure equally safe. I’m not yet a convert to the LED daytime running lights, but the headlights have some clever options, which I can’t verify because I only drove the car during the day. However, by being linked into the standard Multi Media Interface — which thankfully Audi refer to as MMI — and the navigation system, the car knows where it is at any time and can adjust the headlights to suit urban or open road driving. The central 6.5in retractable monitor display controls all the central functions but can be upgraded to include a touch pad for navigation or telephone entry data.

    Audi has gone one step further though to offer online services, including news and weather information supplied by Google if you go for another upgrade option. On the safety side, the Audi pre-sense system first seen on the new A8 analyses information from the ESP sensors so that if it detects maximum braking or skidding, it activates the hazard warning lights, closes the side windows and sunroof and tensions the seatbelts. In an extreme event, it will also apply the brakes automatically.

    The options list is huge, including a night vision ‘assistant’ which uses a thermal imaging camera to highlight ‘warm-blooded’ road users in front of the car, head up display, and park assist which will squeeze the car automatically into a parallel or perpendicular parking space. Inside the car, there is a great sense of space and the seats and fittings are just what we’ve come to expect from Audi. The test car came with electrically adjustable heated front seats (£1700), but if you spend a bit more you could have them with cooling and massaging functions as well.  

    Should you buy one?

    Audi reckon most of their customers will be married men with an average age of 54 with an income of more than £70,000 a year. Is that you?

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    Alan Douglas

    Quick Stats
    Price OTR/As Tested £30,145 / £37,885
    Engine / Power: 1968cc /175bhp
    How fast?: 0-62mph 8.7secs, Max 141mph
    How big/heavy?: H1455mm, W2086mm, L4915mm / 1575kg
    How thirsty/CO2?: Combined 57.6mpg / CO2 129g/km
    InsGP/Road tax: n/a / Band D £95
    Alternatives: Mercedes E Class; BMW 5 Series

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