Having had your A3 and A4 company cars and a decent promotion, the A6 should be next on your list. You’ll want it for Audi’s usual selling points, chiefly its impeccably built and classy interior, decent economy and plentiful options -- even if you’d have more fun driving the BMW 5 Series -- its chief rival.
The 5 Series doesn't have it all its own way, though. The sheer amount of choice on offer with the A6 means there are plenty of reasons to go the Audi route. It's available in everything from country-set allroad quattro four-wheel drive models to the supercar-chasing S in saloon or Avant (estate) guise, the majority go for the front-wheel drive 2.0 TDI model starting at just over £30,000.
The A6 looks very much like its A4 and A8 relatives. While a familial link is good, the A6 perhaps isn’t distinct enough in a class containing the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, BMW 5 Series and Jaguar XF. Smart headlamps with LED driving lights are something of an Audi signature, the A6’s styling unquestionably classy, but lacking in any real flair -- you could even miss the V8-engined S models were it not for their burbling engine note. The interior makes up for the exterior though, being beautifully finished throughout.
It may look like its smaller A4 relative, but inside it offers masses more space. Rear seat occupants can sit comfortably with plenty leg, head and footroom, there’s a massive 530 litre boot -- with standard split/fold seatbacks increasing that to 995 litres -- that’s easily accessed thanks to a large opening. If ultimate capacity is your aim the A6 Avant (estate) offers a maximum loadspace of 1,680 litres, though Mercedes' E-Class Estate adds nearly 300 litres of capacity to that. The A6 can be had with quattro four-wheel drive, while the Allroad adds SUV-lite looks and heightened suspension if you want a more versatile, rugged estate.
Performance & handling
With the majority of buyers keeping an eye on costs, it’s the 2.0-litre TDI model that makes the biggest sales impact, its 177hp four-cylinder engine enabling the A6 to reach 62mph in a respectable 8.7 seconds. Choose the optional eight-speed multitronic automatic transmission and that drops by half a second, but does rather come at the expense of refinement -- it tends to hold onto high revs to produce this.
The V8 engined S6 manages the 0-62mph run in just 4.6 seconds, but the real performance all-rounder is the 3.0-litre TDI, which in ultimate 313hp bi-turbo guise lunges to 62mph in 5.1 seconds, while offering respectable economy. Grip is high in all, traction greater in the four-wheel drive quattro models, the suspension reigning in body roll -- though sometimes to the detriment of ride comfort. That’s true if you opt for bigger wheels or sport suspension – which comes as standard on S-Line models. None steer with the precision of its best rivals, but the A6 proves an adept all-rounder.
Economy & environment
The biggest selling 2.0TDI is also the most efficient model in the range, with a combined economy figure of 57.6mpg and CO2 emissions of 129g/km. Opting for the multitronic automatic might improve performance, but it affects economy and emissions marginally, returning 56.5mpg and emitting 138g/km.
Oddly the reverse is true of the 3.0-litre TDI when fitted with the multitronic, the combined consumption is surprisingly close to the 2.0TDI manual at 55.4mpg, and CO2 emissions are a respectable 133g/km. The A6 features extensive use of aluminium in its construction, and stop-start technology, helping it achieve some of the best economy and emissions figures in its class.
Equipment & value
Decent economy and hence running costs mix with a decent standard specification across the range whether you opt for the SE or S-Line trim levels. S-Line adds some visual punch outside, though in neither you’ll feel short changed on equipment, with climate control Bluetooth, sat nav, rear parking sensors and leather upholstered seats. The S6 gets pretty much everything imaginable as standard, while those keen on gadgets can indulge in the extensive options list which includes kit like night vision and a head-up display containing speed and navigation information projected onto the windscreen.
Audi makes a lot of the traction increasing properties of its quattro four-wheel drive system but the truth is the majority of A6s sold feature front-wheel drive. Standard stability and traction control with ABS among myriad electronic driver aids helps avoid accidents, while a high airbag count gives good protection should an accident be unavoidable. It scores five stars in the Euro NCAP tests, too.
It might not be the most dynamic model in the class, but the A6’s breadth of talent and ability make it a very appealing choice. Spacious and beautifully appointed inside, and smart, if somewhat too samey to its relatives outside, it’s unlikely you’d ever be disappointed with an A6 on your driveway. The suspension can be a little bit jarring, but the fine engine and transmissions, allied to decent economy and running costs certainly appeal, making the A6 about as nice a place as any to hang your suit jacket.
Model tested: Audi A6 Saloon 2.0 TDIe SE
Engine: 2.0-litre diesel
Acceleration: 0-62 in 9 seconds
Top speed: 138mph
Emissions: 132g/km CO2