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Audi’s new car offensive starts strong with 8th-gen A6

S.Muralidhar | Updated on November 28, 2019 Published on November 28, 2019

For a car stuck in a difficult-to-please mid-section of the luxury sedan market, the A6 needed the changes it has gotten

Audi’s full-size family sedan A6 was in a bit of an odd position both in terms of size and price. Positioned in between the A4 and A8 should be a good place for buyers that are looking to get the combination of a driver’s car and a chauffeured one. But, the previous A6s have lacked a unique character and design identity that set them apart. And even though their equipment levels were higher than many competitors, getting to an aggressive price was also an issue.

Over the last two years, Audi has been busy tackling the dieselgate scandal and a few internal problems, including big changes necessitated from the transition to new powertrains. Those were the reasons for the lull in its product rollout plans globally and the India ops were, obviously, equally affected. Finally, next year we will see Audi bounce back and take on the competition with new generation versions of many of its model lines, starting with the Q8 in January. But to give us all a teaser of what is to come, Audi launched the new A6 a few weeks ago. This eighth generation model is quite a significant evolution outside and in cabin compared to the previous-gen, making it much more attractive to buyers looking for options in the full-size sedan category.

Design

The new A6 is all chiseled and square-jawed. Strong family design language is still the norm but there is a certain special identity to the model finally. It is clearly bigger than the outgoing model, though in terms of numbers the increase in dimensions is not significant. Still, the wheelbase is lengthened with the shortened overhangs and a small 7mm increase in overall length. The increase in width is more evident; and much of the increase in exterior dimensions leads to a more spacious cabin. That would be good news for buyers who wanted that bit more kneeroom and legroom from the A6, especially since the comparison is the long wheelbase Mercedes-Benz E-Class.

 

 

 

The change in exterior design of the new A6 is the mix of sharp cornered features and long straight lines which dominate the exterior design. They include the twin side character lines and the configuration of elements like the wider new grille. The lower half of the new A6 is wide and low; combine that with the graceful roofline, the long bonnet and the stubby boot, and this new-gen model looks strong and elegant at the same time. The large, chrome-framed bonnet grille at the front of the car delivers an impactful introduction to the A6. Matrix LED headlamps and tail-lamps deliver that classic instantly identifiable night-time Audi signature. The side profile of the new A6 shows that this is not too low slung (rides reassuringly over big potholes), though the wheel arches are huge and capable of accommodating 22-inch wheels in some of the other markets, though the India-spec gets 18-inch rims and taller 225/55 profile tyres.

The rear of the new A6 is held together by the thick chrome strip that runs from the middle of one tail-lamp to the other. The overall design of the rear is upright, though with the layered concept, the impression of width and solidity is clearly delivered. The electric trunk lid is wider and hence access to the 530-litre boot is improved. Faux dual tail-pipes make it seem like it is more powerful and capable than it actually is.

Cabin

The new A6’s cabin is somewhat similar in approach to the changes in the exterior. Minimalism has been toned down, and yet there is a sort of geometric precision to the shapes and angles of all the elements on the dashboard. The quality of materials used has seen a significant jump and despite a relatively busy layout it is still purposeful and luxurious. One of the examples of this can be seen in the mixed choice of materials like burl-wood veneer, piano black plastic and brushed aluminium frame trim and inserts. The big change in the cabin of the 2020 A6 is the near elimination of physical controls (including the need for a MMI), most of which have been replaced by three digital screens. The instrument cluster is a screen that also incorporates the now famous virtual cockpit. The centre stack is almost entirely taken up by two touchscreens; the one at the top is for the infotainment functions and the one below deals with auto climate control. Thankfully there are still a few knobs and buttons for functions like volume control and drive mode selection. I’m not a fan of screens replacing physical controls, but in the A6 the way the 10.1-inch screen has been integrated, the clean seamless edges and the unique acoustic, haptic feedback of the touchscreen is at least some redemption.

 

 

The seats are plush and feature a mix of leather and leatherette. The first thought in my mind after stepping into the new A6’s cabin was about how Audi has olfactory experts to make sure that every new car, bearing the four rings, has the same smell. The 8th-gen model also gets some changes to the rear seat to make it equally comfortable for buyers who prefer to be chauffeured. The rear seats are also wide and comfy, with good thigh support. And even though the backrest could’ve gotten a bit more recline, there is enough room even for tall passengers. Rear passengers also get a screen for controlling the 4-zone auto air-conditioning. The other feature in the new A6 that is worth mentioning is the Bang & Olufsen music system.

Performance

Audi has launched the new A6 with only one petrol engine and an auto transmission option. There are only two trim variants and no diesel powertrain to choose from. The 45 TFSI features the 4-cylinder, turbocharged, two-litre petrol engine which delivers 245hp of peak power and 370Nm of peak torque. The engine is paired with Audi’s 7-Speed S-TRONIC auto transmission. This is a really refined powertrain that is barely audible unless you are perennially testing the engine’s 4,000rpm-plus mark. Aerodynamic design and aeroacoustic tuning has kept road noise low too, though sharp sounds from outside and from other vehicles does tend to seep through. Dual-clutch auto gearbox changes character with drive mode selector changes. Performance numbers of the new A6 are very similar to the competitors in the segment. Powering the front wheels, this is not a powertrain that’ll leave you white-knuckled and excited, but it delivers enough performance to keep you engaged. It’s efficiency also gets a boost thanks to the mild hybrid tech that includes a belt alternator starter, a 12V subsystem and an additional lithium-ion battery. The system allows the vehicle to coast with the engine switched off at speed.

Bottom Line

The new A6’s chassis is said to be more rigid compared to the outgoing model with an increase in the use of aluminium and high strength steel. The ride quality and handling are both good, with the suspension focussed on delivered a comfortable ride for rear passengers. Unlike the previous generations, the new A6 doesn’t get adaptive suspension, so no adjustment to the ride quality is possible. But, the suspension helps to nicely isolate the cabin while traversing bad roads. The progressive steering is great, though in both the departments the smaller and sportier A4 would be the one that will be more agile and precise.

The new A6’s two trim variants get aggressive price tags of ₹54.2 lakh for the Premium Plus and ₹59.2 lakh for the Technology variant. Now, this Audi is truly ready for the competition.

 

 

Published on November 28, 2019
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