2019 Audi A6 Review
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It's handsome, comes in at a great price and promises a tech-laden experience. But it’s also late, loses comfort features and is only available with a petrol engine. Can the new Audi A6’s pros outweigh the cons?
The Audi A6 has always been a statement of sophistication. It has never turned heads, but has had its own edge in the segment. Now in its fifth generation, the sedan has received a host of high-tech updates globally, but some of the big ones have been skipped for India. But going lean has given it a price which undercuts rivals like the E-Class and 5 Series. However, I have an intuition (because I certainly don't have the bank balance) a compromise might not be what you’re looking for while spending Rs 59.42 lakh (ex-showroom) on a car. So does the 2019 Audi A6 45 TFSI feel like a compromise, or is it a steal at that price.
Car Tested: Audi A6 45 TFSI
Price: Rs 59.42 lakh (ex-showroom)
Look at me
While previous generations of the A6 have had very subtle designs, this one is more in your face. The lines that go across the body are long, straight and strong. The bonnet looks angry with frowning lines and the hdadmaps look like mean eyes. These features along with the wide body and the massive grille give the A6 a hunkered down stance - almost like a predator stalking its prey. It looks more intimidating than most SUV in the rear-view mirror. The headlamps get Audi’s Matrix LEDs and the DRLs surrounding them get a sharp graphic as well.
In international markets, the A6 gets wheels upto 21-inch in size and hence, the new sedan gets massive wheel arches. As a result, the wheels we get in India (18-inch) come shod with thick 225/55 profile rubber. This lets you show off the rims without having to worry about damaging them on a kerb. The A6 Technology variant’s design looks sinister thanks to the dark and light grey colour combination.
The waistline protrudes quite a bit and bulges towards the rear, almost like the old rally-spec Quattros. And even here, the Audi packs some serious attitude to gain followers on Instagram. The taillamps, with its vertical LED elements, look so good that they have become my phone wallpaper and the chrome bar packs just enough bling to satisfy your taste. Overall, the A6 is hotter than it ever was and packs some serious attitude on the road. Its ability to remain low key, and yet stand out when you notice it is unique in the segment.
A techy welcome
The Audi welcomes you into the cabin with its welcome feature. The steering and seat align themselves according to the driver’s profile and the seatbelt locking clips for all five passengers are illuminated. Clearly, the new A6 is built to wow you with the technology it packs. And then there are the three massive screens. The 10-inch infotainment system, the large climate control screen and the 12.3-inch virtual cockpit fire up to make you feel like you have stepped into... well, a cockpit. A word of advice: check if you’ve shut the door properly because it can be a pain. Plus, the MID doesn't immediately show if the door is open, which is very weird.
The dashboard gets a very clean arrangement - almost minimalistic, and gets a layer of open pore wood as a highlight. The same has been carried over to the centre console as well. While the finish looks premium when viewed in isolation, the same finish on the E-Class feels far more luxurious. The piano-black trim provides a nice contrast to the light dash and looks rather premium as well. Fit-finish levels across the cabin are very Audi-like, very premium and solidly built as well. You will have to look hard to find a corner that you don't like in the cabin.
The steering and seats get electric adjust and align themselves if you have a set a preset in the memory function. The seats can get super low and high, accommodating passengers of most heights and even the seat base has a manual extension for additional under-thigh support. The contouring too remains adequate and the driver’s seat is one where you can spend long hours in. And while the steering wheel is quite handsome, a flat-bottom unit would have made it look much nicer.
In terms of practicality, it leaves a bit to be desired. The door pockets are wide and will accommodate 1-litre bottles along with a couple of soda cans with ease. You also get two cup holders in the centre console as well. But the under-armrest storage is mostly occupied by the wireless phone charger and feels a tad bit shallow for other items like wallets and/or a bunch of keys. There is no area where you can just dump stuff. Rather, you have to place everything meticulously in the cabin - that is, if you don't decide to dump all of it on the passenger seat.
Talk tech to me
The Audi A6 gets pretty much everything you’d expect from a midsize luxury sedan and then some more. The basics are covered with a multi-zone ambient lighting, a banging 16 speaker, 705W Bang & Olufsen sound system and a four-zone climate control. The infotainment screen gets a black background and even provides an Apple 3D Touch-like haptic feedback while accessing the various menus. While this sounds cool and fancy, it takes a bit of effort to get used to it and you do get a few false touches here and then.
The bottom screen controls everything related to the climate control along with a few other buttons like the rear sunblind and the auto park assist. However, the bottom screen feels like it should have been put to better use and not be limited to just the climate control. It should have doubled up as audio or a performance display as the cabin does offer a very advanced technology vibe.
However, all of the above mentioned displays can be had on the Audi Virtual Cockpit. It's a crisp display with a lot of menus to choose from. However, here as well, you cannot play around with the layout, and are restricted to just adjusting the size of the dials. You do get park assist that will take over the steering and park the car in a wide enough spot for you. At times, it gets too close to comfort from the kerb and you have to manually tilt the left ORVMs to look down. An automatic tilt in reverse would have been ideal here. The car also offers lane keep assist, but we’ll come to it in a bit.
Yes, the car does sound well packed up till now. But international variants offer kit like an adaptive suspension, rear wheel steering, Quattro all-wheel-drive and a 360 degree camera as well. None of these are available in the India-spec car, not even as an option. And without these features, the car starts to run out of tricks pretty soon and doesn't quite deliver the tech-laden promise it creates in terms of the ambiance.
Alfred, the car please
The backseat experience of the Audi is a mixed bag. The rear doors are surprisingly short, but don't hamper ingress and egress. The seats are very well contoured and offer good levels of support. The recline angle though, seems to be a little upright for a luxury car. You can tuck your feet underneath the front seat and it won’t let you complain about legroom. But this does limit underthigh support and that is a negative here. There’s plenty of knee, head and shoulder room though. The middle passenger will have the large transmission tunnel to deal with but will still be comfortable.
In terms of features, you get two zones of climate control at the rear, two USB chargers and a 12V socket. The sunblinds are manual and the armrest too has a bit of storage. You also get two cup holders neatly tucked in the armrest. But that's it. There is no control for media, navigation, ambient lights or infotainment here.
Speaking of the ambient lights, they are quite nicely done and make the cabin feel airy. There are details like in the doors and on the centre console that disperse lights on the door pockets and floor well. Overall, it feels quite therapeutic. The cabin insulation is brilliant as well and you can barely hear the outside world in your A6.
Fire it up
Underneath that beautiful hood is a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol motor in the 45 TFSI tune, sending power to the front wheels. Yes, a front wheel drive. And while this is acceptable, the news that there is no other engine or configuration to choose from might sting a few buyers. If you have any doubts about its performance, get rid of them immediately as the 245PS and 370Nm motor gives the A6 a 0-100kmph time of 7.04 seconds. It even comes to a stop from there in 38.72 metres. All pretty impressive.
Numbers aside, this is probably the most refined petrol engine I have driven this year. The motor barely makes a sound and there is no vibration from the engine once it gets pumping. In fact, the experience is almost like an electric-car while ambling around in the city. It is also happy killing the engine in efficiency mode to save a few drops of fuel. In fact, it does it even while you stop for U-turns or at a pedestrian crossing. Switching between the modes affects the throttle response and even the Efficiency mode has enough poke to tackle city stints. However, there is a bit of lag between the throttle input and the power reaching the wheels.
Get on the gas and it’s quick to pick up speed. The A6 takes just 4.48seconds to get from 20-80kmph. Power is readily available in the rev band and it never makes you work for it. But while it is effortless, it isn't exciting. Even a kickdown will be rather calm and won't push you back in the seat. The front wheel drive layout does mean you have to deal with torque steer. The engine sounds sweet but the cabin insulation gets the better of it.
On the highway, the engine settles at 1500rpm at 100kmph in 7th gear, barely making a sound. In fact, in efficiency mode, the A6 even kills the engine while coasting below 160kmph to aid efficiency and you can barely notice it. Get on the gas and it picks up cleanly. Stay on it and the A6 easily leaves most of the cars behind on the highway.
Front wheel drive fun?
Find yourself staring at a set of corners and the A6’s chassis takes it on with confidence. It remains flat through corners and the Michlines hardly break grip. In fact, while you’d expect a front wheel drive car to start understeering, the A6 lets its tail catch up much before the front end loses grip! But this layout does mean you have to be more aware of the speeds you are entering a corner in, than in a Quattro-equipped car.
The steering, however, is the least sporty aspect of the car. Lack of feedback in sports mode is the reason why you’d be a little nervous pushing it. It’s light in the city and lets you amble around town and even park in a tight spot with ease. However, it is quite lackluster everywhere else.
The suspension is beautifully balanced to take on everything from speed breakers to potholes. The fat rubber on the tall wheels make a hell of a combination to keep you comfortable and worry free. And even though there is no air suspension on offer, the setup is extremely quiet and won't leave you complaining. It's only over broken patches of roads when it gets unsettled a bit. Everything else, the A6 can eat for breakfast.
The ground clearance is pretty decent as well, and it never scraped its belly in the duration of our 1000+ km test. Boot space too, at 560 litres, is more than what you'll need for the weekend getaway.
Seven airbags, ABS, EBD, HCA, ISOFIX, etc. The A6 gets all the acronyms. Furthermore, it gets lane departure warning which gives vibration feedback on the steering wheel. It even gives a mid steering input to keep the car in the lane. However, this only works on a well marked road. What you don't get is adaptive cruise control.
Lay it down
The Audi A6 is one good looking sedan. And in this generation, it will make people notice it. Inside the cabin, it offers a premium experience and will make onlookers envy the high-tech setup. It is focused towards the driver with all three screens facing him/her. What it lacks, however, is any sort of entertainment for the rear or front passenger. And while the infotainment system performs all of its duties flawlessly, and looks cool while doing it, it lacks depth to deliver a truly geeky experience. The A6 even manages to hold its own in the handling department, but it needs a more exciting powertrain to... well, excite the driver.
However, for an everyday luxury car, it has all the basics in place. It’s refined, very comfortable, has enough power for the highway and city, and won't leave you wanting for too much. Given the Rs 60 lakh price tag, the package does feel really good value for money. But while the A6 will keep you happy in your daily drive, it simply doesn't pack enough to boast about it to your friends.