Motoring

Audi A6: Building on its strengths

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The A6 serves up a good blend of comfort and stability with enough performance for most owners

It has been a while since Audi launched an all-new model in India — January 2018 to be precise, when it brought the all-new Q5. The other launches were mostly new variants and special editions. Now, though, Audi has launched its long-awaited all-new A6 sedan. So is it up to the task?

The first impression is good. In size and silhouette, the new A6 does not stray too far from its predecessor’s look. However, the latest A6 gets sharper, squarer and more in-your-face design elements. The single-frame ‘Bulgarian Beard’ grille is wider than ever, and there is plenty of chrome up front as well. At the back too, the impression you get is ‘familiar, but more’. The tail-lamps are larger and feature intricate LED detailing and there is plenty of chrome detailing here too. There are many new creases — several on the bonnet and some on the fenders, while the shoulder crease has now been split in two, to independently accentuate the front- and rear-wheel arches. 18-inch wheels are standard and fill the wheel arches well, even if the tyres appear a touch narrow.

Inside, the dashboard is full of layers and protruding slabs made of brushed aluminium, art-leather, piano-black trim and open-pore wood veneer. The new steering wheel looks futuristic, behind which sits the latest version of the Virtual Cockpit digital dials.

Audi A6: Building on its strengths

Futuristic designs

There is a wireless phone charger under the front central armrest, and Audi has fitted the car with a Bang & Olufsen hi-fi audio system, which sounds exquisite. Then there is Audi’s cutting-edge new dual-touchscreen MMI infotainment system. The graphics are good-looking and logically laid out. It also packs in a lot of functions. However, we wish there was some form of physical control as a redundancy; it would have made for easier use, on the move; you cannot avoid taking your eyes off the road to use the system. There is haptic feedback — a click that you hear and feel — but this only means you have to press the screen harder to make it work, which results in a lot more fingerprints.

Audi A6: Building on its strengths

The front seats are powered (a heating and/or ventilation function would have been nice) and only the driver’s side has a memory function. There is, however, driver comfort access, which moves the seat and steering wheel away from each other once you have switched the car off, for easier egress and ingress. Finally, though you don’t get 360-degree cameras, you do get the now-popular hands-free parking assistant feature.

Moving to the all-important (for our market) back seat, it is not as spacious as a long-wheelbase E-class or a 6 Series GT, but feels significantly more spacious than its predecessor and compares well to the 5 Series, S90 and XF. You sit snug in the heavily-contoured seats, with excellent lateral and under-thigh support; though the third passenger will have to contend with a narrow seat and a wide centre tunnel.

Audi A6: Building on its strengths

A special mention has to be made of the boot. Though its 560 litres is on par with the class, the actual space on offer seems more than advertised — helped partly by the space-saver stowed under the boot floor.

Audi A6: Building on its strengths

Powering the new A6 is a 2.0-litre, turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine (45TFSI) with front-wheel drive and a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. Its respective power and torque outputs of 245hp and 370Nm are far more than an E 200 and on par with a 530i and XF petrol.

Engine refinement is a highlight. You will barely hear the engine running in your average everyday drive. It is only when you wring it past around 4,000 rpm that you begin to hear some buzz from under the bonnet. The 7-speed dual-clutch ’box is smoother than usual under light loads, and there is no sign of that slight shunt you would sometimes get with older units.

Ease onto the throttle and the car will reward you with a smooth, yet brisk power build-up, which is perfect for most everyday driving situations that this car will likely find itself in.

The gearbox is not the quickest to react to driver inputs, and, overall, the powertrain feels more relaxed than alert. And this is something you will notice when you have a play with the Drive Select driving modes too. This time around, however, Drive Select only affects the steering and engine responses. Unlike its predecessor, there is no adaptive air suspension on offer. You certainly should not hold that against the A6 because ride quality is a big highlight of this car.

The A6 certainly feels like it has enough ground clearance, comfortably sailing over even some nightmarish speed bumps without incident. Driving further reveals that it is also well-calibrated, and not overly soft and bouncy. There is a little float at seriously high speeds, but it maintains a good composure for the most part.

There is some noise though, accentuated due to the refinement of the engine. As for the A6’s steering — no, it is not the most feelsome, but it allows for quick direction changes, making manoeuvring this big sedan a breeze.

Well equipped

It has come to India a little later than expected, and some rivals may have a little more time in the sun as a result; but the new A6 has come to the fight well prepared. It carries forward almost all its predecessors’ strengths and the values people appreciate from Audi.

The A6 serves up a good blend of comfort and stability; and while it is not a flat-out driver’s car, it serves up enough performance for most owners. Part of the Audi formula has always been tech, and it has got that front covered with its new dual-touchscreen system.

For now, the new Audi A6 is available in two variants — Premium Plus and Technology — with prices starting at ₹54.20 lakh and going up to ₹59.20 lakh (ex-showroom, pan-India), which means that it undercuts its petrol-powered competition. So, a late entrant it may be, but the A6 may just be able to make up for lost ground quicker than you think.

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2019 1:32:26 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/motoring/audi-a6-building-on-its-strengths/article29896569.ece

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