A testament to how time and trends change, the Audi A6 55 TFSI Quattro is a car that would have verged on being a super saloon not all that long ago. Powered by a turbocharged 335BHP engine driving all four wheels and with sharp lines, subtle bulges, huge alloy wheels and a vast hexagonal grille, it would have looked wild among, and driven with a pace few saloons could match some 20 years ago. But, in its own milieu, it is one of Audi’s most conservative and traditional offerings.
However, and contrary to what some may thing, to say that a car is conservative is by no means a bad thing. The A6 competes in a premium brand executive segment increasingly dominated by heavy crossover SUVs compromised between road and mild off-road abilities, and so-called four-door coupes further encroaching on its traditional territory. A more traditional saloon, the A6 instead offers a sense of clarity, purpose and focus that elude most such trendy vehicles, and aren’t even matched by its own highly accomplished Audi Q5 crossover and low-roof sportback A7 sisters.
Launched two years ago, the latest generation A6 is a sportier and more sculpted design with more defined surfacing and line, a bigger more dramatic low-slung grille and browed moody headlights horizontally bisected by an LED strip. Featuring a flowing roofline for a more coupe-like look, the A6 however retains a distinct three-box saloon design with the space and visibility benefits, and sensible, formal and elegantly classic demeanor that entails. Over the rear wheel-arches its subtly muscular flaring emphasizes its Quattro four-wheel-drive and is equipped alloy wheels ranging from 18- to 21-inches.
With its turbocharged direct injection 3-litre V6 engine positioned longitudinally slightly ahead of the front wheels for tenacious traction, the A6 55 TFSI Quattro however balances this slightly nose-heavy layout with its four-wheel-drive system. Producing 335BHP at 5,000-6,400rpm and 368lb/ft torque throughout a broad 1,370-4,500rpm range, the A6 55 TFSI Quattro is the range-topping model bar S6 and RS6 performance versions. It is a smooth operator with good low-end response, versatile and accessible mid-range pull and willing high-end delivery. Employing four-wheel-drive traction and lighter more aluminium-intensive construction, it dashes through 0-100km/h in just 5.3-seconds.
Slightly quicker accelerating than its equivalent, yet sportier looking A7u sister model, the A6 55 TFSI Quattro also attains an electronically-governed 250km/h top speed, and is similarly calm, capable and smoothly effortless to drive at speed or in traffic. Standard fit with Audi’s 48v battery mild hybrid electric technology, the A6 recuperates kinetic braking energy to power ancillary systems and mildly boost torque output through the crank shaft. The 48v system also reduces fuel consumption 0.7/l/100km to 7.1l/100km on the combined cycle, by allowing the A6 to coast briefly between 55-160km/h and to engage the stop/start system at 22km/h when coming to a stop.
Driving all four wheels through a slick and quick shifting dual-clutch automated gearbox, the A6 is swift, stable, refined and reassuring. During recent test drive damp and outright wet roads, its famed Quattro four-wheel-drive delivered confident and committed road-holding through corners. Featuring Audi’s recent ‘ultra’ technology, the A6’s Quattro now disengages drive to the rear wheels in normal conditions to reduce friction and enhance fuel efficiency. However, it near imperceptibly sends power rearwards and varies it between front and rear, when additional grip and traction is needed.
A far more agile car than its front-biased weighting might suggest, the A6 is confidently stable, grippy, responsive and well controlled through corners, fast sweeping bends and when changing lane. Smooth driving and refined at speed or in town, the A6’s suspension finds a happy medium between firm and forgiving. It is comfortable over most bumps and imperfections yet settled on rebound and in vertical movement, but can feel slightly on the stiff side over sudden sharp low speed bumps, owing to the driven model’s attractive low profile 255/40R20 tyres.
For enhanced agility and traction, an optional sport rear differential to distribute power along the rear axle. Big on advanced options including a comprehensive suite of driver assistance safety systems, the A6 can however also optioned with four-wheel-steering. Turning opposite to the front wheels at low speed effectively reduce its wheelbase and in the same direction at high speed, four-wheel-steering provides subtly but significantly improved agility, maneuverability and high speed stability. Meanwhile, the A6’s new all-round five-link suspension can optionally be fitted with adaptive air springs for a more comfortable ride and better body control through corners.
Slightly larger and more spacious than its predecessor, the A6 has an airier cabin with better visibility and headroom than its more hunkered down shark-like A7 relation. Comfortably accommodating taller passengers in front and well in the rear, the A6’s driving position is alert, high adjustable and comfortably supportive, while good visibility allows for good driving confidence. Highly well equipped with standard and optional features and conveniences, the A6’s cabin has a conservatively classy ambiance that naturally incorporates quality materials and textures, and dark matte woods and brown leathers, as test, with sophisticated twin infotainment screens and configurable Virtual Cockpit instrument panel.
Specifications: Audi A6 55 TFSI Quattro
- Engine: 3-litre, turbocharged, in-line V6-cylinders
- Bore x stroke: 84.5 x 89mm
- Compression ratio: 11.2:1
- Valve-train: 32-valve, DOHC, direct injection
- Gearbox: 7-speed dual clutch automated, four-wheel-drive
- Power, BHP (PS) [kW]: 335 (340)  @5,000-6,400rpm
- Specific power: 111.8BHP/litre
- Power-to-weight: 181.5BHP/tonne
- Torque, lb/ft (Nm): 368.8 (500) @1,370-4,500rpm
- Specific torque: 166.9Nm/litre
- Torque-to-weight: 271Nm/tonne
- 0-100km/h: 5.1-seconds
- Top speed: 250km/h (electronically governed)
- Fuel consumption, urban / extra-urban / combined: 9.6- / 5.6- / 7.1-litres/100km
- CO2 emissions, combined: 161g/km
- Fuel capacity: 63-litres
- Length: 4,939mm
- Width: 1,886mm
- Height: 1,457mm
- Wheelbase: 2,924mm
- Track, F/R: 1,630 / 1,617mm
- Overhang, F/R: 920 / 1,095mm
- Loading height: 676mm
- Headroom, F/R: 1,054 / 973mm
- Shoulder room, F/R: 1,467 / 1,436mm
- Elbow room, F/R: 1,527 / 1,501mm
- Luggage volume: 530-litres
- Kerb weight: 1,845kg
- Steering: Electric-assisted rack & pinion
- Turning circle: 12.1-meters
- Suspension: Five-link
- Brakes: Ventilated discs
- Tyres: 255/40R20