Audi A6 review - AUDI A6 Car Review

Review

Added: 15 May 2009
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Saving up to buy an Audi, or knowing that it comes with that hard-won promotion should be one of life’s joyous accomplishments. But, if I had the gumption to be promoted to executive company car status or the willpower to save money, would the acquisition of a shiny A6 give me a sense that, ‘I have arrived.’

Certainly it looks the part. It is of substantial proportions but with an elegant curve here and there that gives it a classy, yet modest appeal.

Power is arguably the Audi A6’s Achilles heal. Leaving aside how easy it is to be shuttling along at 3-digit speeds without noticing, passengers commented on how it seems to have a lot of power; appearing to always want to accelerate away. That is partly true, but also partly illusion created by the 7-speed gearbox. So keen is the A6’s engine management system to keep your fuel economy in the 40s that it moves up to the highest conceivable gear at all times. On slow-speed B-roads, especially if you are continually heading up hill and then down dale, this creates a very slight hesitation in the ride. It was often in 6th or 7th when 5th would have been better.

That’s not to say it is a bad gearbox; it is actually among the very best. In conventional auto-mode, it changes smoothly and has very little delay when you want to pull away quickly. In sport mode, using the paddles behind the wheel, you transform the car into a much more responsive Grand Tourer, but without any compromise in smoothness. I thoroughly enjoyed changing down to create engine braking for corners or roundabouts; it took the car from being an emotionally-removed cruise to an involved driving experience.

On wide and sweeping A-roads, it is impossible to resist the temptation to open the car up a little. Out of sport mode the car squirms a touch in corners and the steering feel remains very light which damages confidence and makes you want to turn in too early. There is nothing horrendous about this, but the Audi brand sets expectations so high, anything other than perfect feels like a disappointment. The squirm in A- or B-road cornering is perhaps just the price you pay for a soft and pleasant motorway cruise, which this car delivers to the highest standard: There is zero wind noise, the road sounds like you are driving on carpet and there is a solid road holding on the straights.

The A6 had a few very minor niggles, which are a surprise on a car that is otherwise so well made. There is a very slight judder in the gear change as you come to a stop, although I accept that longer stopping distances from a more gentle driver would mitigate this.

When you turn the rear window de-mister on the radio develops such static that you cannot really hear it. That is potentially an age-related technical hiccup – the test car was a 2006 model. If so, it’s the only one; the seat fabrics, gearshift and plastics are all in excellent condition, having hardly worn despite the car’s 24,000 miles.

The dark walnut effect and quality of the plastics feel good; the interior is dark and uninspiring, but that adds to the feel of quality. The one design issue that particularly stressed me was that the speedo is only labelled in 20 mph increments. This means 30 mph isn’t labelled. Combine that omission with this car’s ever-willing power and you are at continual risk of doing 35 through a speed camera.

On the used market there are a huge number of ex-fleet A6s relative to the number of nearly new ex privately owned cars. This means, even despite Audi’s choice of materials, more scuffs and knocks and higher mileage. But the prices of these cars can appeal – Supermarkets should be able to offer you A6s in this condition for our best price. Or you can go to a main dealer, benefit from the Used Approved programme’s higher preparation standard and pay something between our low and top prices.

If I have something like £10-15,000 then a 2-3 year old Audi A6 is going to be on my list for it has many fine qualities and is a versatile, practical day-to-day car without being totally dull. But because it is so practical, solid and drab inside, it doesn’t make me feel like I have ‘arrived.’

Summary

A large executive car with a spacious interior and sophisticated looks. High levels of specification, brilliant engines and a well balanced set of ride qualities make it hard to fault. On the used market it represents terrific value.

Road test car details:
Audi 2.0 TDI SE
OTR £24,760 (new price, for used prices)
MPG: 48.7
0-62: 8.9 secs
Co2 / KM: 153

By: Matthew Tumbridge

Keywords: Audi A6 review, Audi road test, A6 road test, Small family cars