REVIEWS
8

OVERALL
VERDICT

The Top Gear car review:

Audi A6 40 TDI S tronic

R1 104 650

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A complete sedan better than ever.

8

OVERALL
VERDICT

For:

All round excellence from the tech to the ride to the design.

Against:

If you like more involving driving then maybe not.

What is it?

Think of it as being for the middle manager on the way up, the Audi A6 is the business sedan from the 4-ringed brand. Larger than the A4 and smaller than the A8, the Audi A6 plays in a space occupied with other saloons that mean business such as Mercedes’ E-Class, the BMW 5-Series or the Volvo S90.

These are all excellent competitors each with their own unique traits and their own core competence.

The Audi A6 wears the premium badge too and as such Audi SA expects sales to dwindle in the future but its still hedging its bets on commanding at least some of the declining market. To do that, the A6 needs to be excellent and see our score for the car, its pretty much on point.

Audi does design very well and in this case they’ve stuck with the traditional styling in as far as proportions go. Yes this car is longer, wider and higher than before but you would be hard pressed to say so from immediate observations. Audi has given us a design that has executive appeal with high levels of sophistication. Amidst the wider stance and sloping roofline, it’s all about balance with the A6 – it just looks the most symmetrical.

The Audi A6 40 TDI S tronic being reviewed is the entry-level model of the range, a 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine mated to a 7-speed dual clutch transmission. There’s nothing entry level about it really.

Next: Driving
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Layout, finish and space

A quality cabin. As always. Audi continues to impress with its latest cabin architecture. Finished in this black-panel design the interior is modern and clutter free. It’s a clean dashboard layout really drawing your eye to the two high def screens in the middle of the dashboard. They call it the MMI Touch interface. The top 10.1-inch screen houses the infotainment and driver profile functions. Driver profiles can be customised with all your preferred settings. So, what ambient lighting do you want, your radio stations list, your car settings, your preferred starting temperature from the 4-zone climate control? It’s a great feature and hey the car will greet you by name every time you step inside.

Below this larger screen sits a slightly smaller but equally modern 8,6-inch unit that houses the climate control functions among a few other shortcuts.

Both these screens are highly contrasted black backgrounds with vivid white graphics for the most part. It’s sleek and user experience is commendable. It is Audi showing off really. It’s a stunning interface if you’re impressed by great tech design. Then there is the addition of Audi Virtual Cockpit which then translates a full spectrum of information right into the driver’s display. You can quite frankly, just use the VC for most of your needs controlling them via the steering wheel control buttons.

The entire layout is slightly angled toward the driver, and the driving position is perfect. Electric seat adjustment is standard on all models and even at the rear there is ample legroom and a comfortable seat back angle. It’s what I love about sedans – that rear comfort. The rear also benefits from its own digital climate control settings. Boot space is a respectable 530-litres and the seats are 40:20:40 splits for maximum practicality.

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Next: Driving
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What is it like on the road?

It’s a peach of a turbodiesel that delivers 140kW of power and 400Nm of torque. It never feels underpowered suffering a little lag on pull off but then able to unspool comfortable levels of power in silence. It feels refined and smooth entirely in tandem with what the A6 feels like it needs to be doing which is comfortable, business-like mobility.

Everything about the driving experience is about comfort and flow. The steering is weighted on the softer side in all settings and at low speeds its akin to what you’d imagine a chauffeur would prefer. At higher speeds and as you unleash a bit more pace, the softer steering tends to not invoke as much confidence as at lower speeds responding well enough but lacking in a precision of feedback that some other competitors have. It’s not bad, please don’t misunderstand – in fact its quite good considering the wheelbase and proportions of the car but as far as sportiness goes, I wouldn’t claim it to be the best.

I would credit the Audi A6 with a best-in-class accolade when it comes to the standard suspension and ride quality. Audi has a number of new components in the suspension and they’ve done wonders with the damping. How this car negotiates bumps and undulations in the road is superb even with the steel springs fitted on this car. You can also option the A6 with dynamic all-wheel steering, a technology that does dual roles. At slower speeds the rear wheel can turn in the opposite direction to the front wheels making the large A6 a more nimble and ‘smaller’ car. Excellent for parking and tighter situations such as narrow intersections. At higher speeds of over 60km/h, the rear wheels turn in the same direction as the front wheels to achieve a higher level of corner stability.

The Audi A6 40 TDI feels as comfortable as they come despite the road conditions. And efficiency? Yes please. Audi claims 5,2l/100km and that is mighty impressive but what is more impressive is my own fuel consumption figures of 6.0l/100km. I wasn’t exactly dawdling during the evaluation of this car.  

As technology moves forward, so too does it find its way into the lower rungs on the range ladder. What special driving assistance and safety systems that you’d previously only find on the A8 for instance, has found its way into the A6 range with a full suite driver aids and systems. A number of these are optional but should you drive significant distances, then the adaptive cruise assist feature does a lot of the driving for you – no not entirely autonomous but it keeps you conscious of the lanes you’re in while also keeping the correct distances from cars. Emergency braking functions are also available on the pre sense system while Night Vision infrared technology is a stunning addition too. An expensive option, but one that is so needed for those city to city road trips at night.

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Next: Owning
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Running costs and reliability

Yes the base price is R919 500. Throw in some packages such as the Comfort Package and then the Sport Package and you’re R60 000 up. Larger alloys suit your fancy? Perhaps advanced driving assistance systems, heads-up displays? I’d recommend dynamic all-wheel steering mainly because of the length of the car but I’d be entirely happy with the standard suspension as opposed to the sports suspension. Audi has made a lot of technology standard on the A6 now, but there’s even more available as an option dependant on your budget.

The chips are stacked against the A6 in some respects. It will go head to head with cars from its own stable, with buyers probably opting for Q7 or Q8 over this car. It is the way of the world now. And of course it will go head to head with other German competitors in SUV form and sedan form as well and yes, they’re all very good.

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Final thoughts

What you need to decide though, is do you want a car that is a great all-rounder but perhaps not the best at one specific thing? Do you want a car that is spells premium in all of its design, its packaging, its ride and build quality and its technology?

That is what the Audi A6 40 TDI will give you– a strong all-round ability with an efficient and smooth driving experience all finished off in a classic design that just works.

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