The Audi A6 has been one of the most popular executive sedans from the German marque since it launched almost two decades ago. It has been on the forefront of technological advances in their fleet, second, perhaps, only to the Audi A8, and has been ever in the limelight for being the muscular gentlemanly car. And if such a category didn’t exist before, the A6 certainly personifies that image.
So the latest iteration of the A6 sees a really interesting amalgamation of Audi’s new design feel that we’ve seen in both the new A8 and the A7. The front of the car looks incredibly sharp; thanks to the stretched out LED headlamps that look more like an angry squint. The double layers formed by the daytime LEDs and Xenon headlights gives it a very distinctive look that’s now standard in all Audi cars. As is the huge front grill that we have come to associate with the Audi brand since the launch of their previous generation cars in mid-2000s.
Moving to the side we see long sweeping lines that looks too simple and very much like the previous generation A6. The distinguishing factor comes from the 20-inch forged aluminum wheels that have shiny brushed metal finishing on different angles to give the side profile of the A6 a gorgeous look. That, more than anything else, gives away the sports sedan nature of the A6. Well, the wheels and the 3.0 TFSI badge on the back, but I’ll get to that later.
Coming to the back we see the rear taillights continue to look rather subdued; it’s only in the night when you see the elegant glowing lines form beneath. The twin exhausts look great, but I would say overall the A6’s rear is its weakest design aspect.
So to wrap up the exterior of the A6, the front is very eye-catching, the sides would’ve looked incredibly bland were it not for the gorgeous wheels, and the back end is too composed for its own good, therein highlighting its mature target audience.
Inside the Audi A6 is almost a complete replica of the beautiful A7, except we have a more comfortable 4-spoke steering wheel rather than the sportier 3-spoke steering of the A7.
Peek behind the leather stitched wheel and you’ll have a look at the seemingly minimalist dash. Apart from the tachometer and speedometer it seems that there’s just blank space in there. But turn on the car and you’re greeted with beautifully high-res screen that shows you the car details (detailed reports from the trip computer), currently played song (or radio station), telephone directory and the navigation system (with minimal details).
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Peak a little higher, or rather, look straight out the windshield as you normally would and the Heads-Up Display shows up. The HUD shows up in a white light, which basically shows you your current speed in the form of a digital speedometer. You can even have the option to show up the navigation system whereby you’ll see arrows guiding to your destination. I chose to keep it off (which was default state anyways) as it got a bit too distracting for me. Just seeing the speed in my peripheral vision was enough. The height and brightness of the HID can also be adjusted.
Moving to the center console we’ll see the main technological playground of the new A6. The 8-inch screen pops up from just above the aircon grills. Seeing as it’s a bit of a stretch for the driver to reach, Audi has decided to make it completely button operated; buttons that are placed around the gearbox.
The MMI Plus navigation system is a bit confusing at first, but using it for a day or two will make you feel comfortable with it. My only complaint is that for some of the menus you really have to dig into submenus to get to what you need. This is a moot point; however, as not everyone wants access to, say street names, instantly.
Now the MMI system is popular for the small touch-panel on the left of the gear. This is usually occupied by 6 buttons that will instantly select your pre-programmed radio channels. However this touchpad can be used for actual handwritten input to search for contacts in your phone list, or entering destinations for the satnav system. The idea is that you’re typing what you want without having to take your eyes off the road. The best part about the MMI touch-based input is that the handwriting recognition was exceptionally well, even when my letters came out like something written by a 1st grader (due to the moving car!).The downside to such brilliant input traction is that you can only write one character at a time. More often than not I found myself entering two or three characters and then scrolling through the list using the central control knob.
Apart from the Satellite navigation system, media source selection and telephone directory, you can make in-depth customization to the A6, ranging from how the lights behave in different conditions to the dynamic behavior of the car.
The gearbox is interesting to use, in that the Sports mode is actually used via a toggle button. With Volkswagen and their DSG gears, the Sports mode is notch below the normal Drive mode. In the Audi you just push the gear down and it switches between Sports and normal Drive modes. While cool in theory, this gets a bit irritating as often times when I took out the A6 from Parking, the gearbox accidentally (probably due to my fault) selected the Sports mode and I was getting outside of the parking lot rather aggressively. Just pay attention to the S or D in the central trip computer and you’ll be fine.
The Audi A6 is undoubtedly a big, and thanks to the all-wheel drive system and various safety features, heavy car; 1740kg curb weight to be exact. However, the 3-liters Supercharged TFSI engine makes short work of this weight thanks to 300hp @ 5,250 – 6,500RPM and a massive 440Nm of torque @ 2,900 – 4,500RPM. This propels to the A6 from 0 to 100kmph in 5.7 seconds.
When driving normally the A6 is superbly quiet; you can talk normally and even at highway speeds you’ll barely need to raise your voice to be heard by the passengers in the back. The suspension is equally poised, but that’s not to say that it’s overly soft either.
Thanks to the Pirelli P Zero rubber, Quattro all-wheel drive and a decent (but not overbearing) traction system, the A6 feels well balanced and easily maneuverable. However, all that quietness and softness leads to a rather boring drive. Were it not for the Sports mode the A6 would’ve been no better than a small SUV with a V8 inside. The true spirit of the sports sedan only comes to life in Sports mode, when you start to push it to the limits.
However, given the size of the car, the busy roads of Dubai and the true power unleashing well after 3k RPM, the A6 doesn’t feel exciting as a driver’s car. Then again it wasn’t designed to be one in the first place. Sure it has all the key checkboxes of a sports sedan ticked, but the ride inside is so subdued that you’ll hardly ever feel your pulse rising. I guess that purpose is fulfilled by the S6.
As an executive class car, though, the A6 is one of the best. It’s extremely comfortable, has a lot of tech goodies and a very potent engine mated to an intensely smooth gearbox. The design may start to age quickly, though, but sitting inside you’ll admire every second of it.