The Audi A6 is a top-notch executive sedan, though it may be better to wait for the imminent all-new version.
The Audi A6 is a top-notch executive sedan, though it may be better to wait for the imminent all-new version.
If you’re in the position where you can postpone your car buying decision, then we reckon you should delay your Audi A6 purchase. As nice as the current car is, it’s due to be replaced with an all-new version very shortly, so we’d advise you wait for that one before committing to a purchase. For those of you who need a mid-sized executive sedan right now, though, the Audi A6 is certainly a vehicle we think you should consider. Though it’s far from being a perfect vehicle, we do feel the Audi A6 is a very well-rounded car that can hold its own up against newer rivals, and is easily a very appealing ownership prospect.
The Audi A6’s comfort credentials are also improved by the supportive seats.
The Audi A6 may be one of the older vehicles in this segment, but that doesn’t mean it’s comprehensively outclassed in terms of interior space and overall fit-and-finish. In fact, we’d go as far to say the Audi A6 sedan is very competitive overall in this regard, with the build quality being testament to just how on the ball the car was when it went on sale in 2011. Build quality, for example, is as you’d expect from an executive Audi, and the use of high quality plastics, leathers and metals further endow the Audi A6’s interior with a more upmarket and befittingly premium feel. We’re also big fans of the clutter-free control layout on the center console, which on top of making the Audi A6’s interior even easier on the eye is also rather intuitive to operate – though, if we’re being picky, the resolution and graphics of the infotainment display is lagging behind what similar, higher-definition devices in rivals like the Volvo S90 and Mercedes-Benz E-Class provide. The Audi A6 is more competitive and up-to-date, though, in terms of interior space for people. Overall head and leg room for those in the front and back seats, for example, is actually rather good by class standards, so four six-footer adults should be able to sit comfortably on car journeys of various lengths. The Audi A6’s comfort credentials are also improved by the supportive seats, and it’s also worth highlighting that there’ lots of adjustment in the driver’s seat and the steering wheel.
The Audi A6 has one of the widest center seats of any car in this class.
However, the Audi A6 sedan doesn’t fare as well once the middle chair in the rear row is factored into the equation. Though there aren’t any criticisms to be had at the width (on the contrary, the Audi A6 has one of the widest center seats of any car in this class), the usefulness of this spot is hampered by a transmission tunnel and a protruding rear center console that eat into knee room and space in the footwell. As a result, the Audi A6 can only just about carry five adults in relative comfort on longer journeys – though, as many cars in this class suffer from this, it isn’t an aspect we’ll be too critical of. Arguably more disappointing, though, is the relatively lacklustre storage capabilities. Though the door bins are of a good size, other areas don’t impress as much: the cubby under the front center arm rest is only large and deep enough to be used as a cell phone tray, and the glovebox can’t really contain anything of much worth if you leave the owner’s manual in there. Still, at least the Audi A6 sedan claws back some ground when it comes to trunk dimensions. Though the space itself is average by class standards at 14.1 cubic feet (the class-leading Jaguar XF, for examples, is rather impressive at 19.1 cubic feet), the boxy shape of the Audi A6’s trunk does deserve some brownie points, as do the broad trunk opening and the very shallow by sedan standards load lip. Plus, if you need to extend the load bay even further, you can do so by folding the 60:40 rear seats completely flat.
The Audi A6 sedan does stay fairly level when cornering or travelling over bumpier sections of road.
Following on from the interior quality comment we made earlier, the Audi A6 also manages to defy its age when it comes to the ride/handling balance. Whilst more recent rivals do admittedly find a marginally finer balance between setting the car up for comfort and responsiveness, the Audi A6 is able to do a very good job at being cosseting whilst also somewhat entertaining to drive. For sure, the likes of the BMW 5 Series, Jaguar XF and Cadillac CTS are more suitable for your needs if you crave as much dynamism from your executive sedan as possible, but the Audi A6 is still a surprisingly direct vehicle to drive. Even the base front-wheel drive versions have good amounts of traction on tap, and the combination of the direct steering response and good cornering grip means the Audi A6 can be placed confidently on the road. Overall body control is also pretty good. Though we do concede the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, the Volvo S90 and even the Lexus GS have the slight edge in this regard, the Audi A6 sedan does stay fairly level when cornering or travelling over bumpier sections of road. Noise refinement levels are also very good, with only a slight hint of tire roar (especially on models that forgo the 18inch alloy wheels for a set of optional 19inch or 20inch replacements) spoiling the overall hushed qualities of the cabin.
All Audi A6 versions come with front and rear parking sensors and a reversing camera as standard.
The ride’s pretty good too, albeit with some caveats. Though it’s not obtrusively hard, there’s no denying even the entry level Audi A6 is a bit on the firm side for a mid-sized executive sedan, and even more so if you opt for the aforementioned larger wheels or the even stiffer suspension offered on the S-Line package. As we said, the Audi A6 is still a fairly comfortable car that can isolate the cabin from lumps and bumps in the road surface, but those who’d prefer a softer edge to their sedan’s suspension setup may want to look elsewhere. Visibility, though, is particularly good for the class, with the decently-sized windows and slim-by-sedan-standards front, center and rear pillars resulting in some relatively slim blind spots to contend with. It also helps that all Audi A6 versions come with front and rear parking sensors and a reversing camera as standard, with blind spot monitoring available on all bar the base car.
The 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine.
For many buyers, the base engine in the Audi A6 should be more than good enough for their needs and requirements. As with comparable entry-level engines, this one’s a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine, and the outputs of 252 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque are nigh-on identical to what competitors can squeeze out of their like-for-like unit. The characteristics of this engine are also eerily similar to those of comparable 2.0-liter turbocharged engines. For instance, the torque that’s on tap is available from low down in and across a broad spread of the rev range, so there’s plenty of oomph to rely on when accelerating from a standstill or on the highway, and the four-cylinder is also a rather smooth and refined engine (if perhaps a little bit coarse when if you work it unnecessarily hard). Fuel economy’s also pretty good by class standards, with the 24mpg in the city and 34mpg on the highway that the front-wheel drive versions of the Audi A6 are capable of returning being fairly competitive for a four-cylinder gasoline engine in this segment. Admittedly, adding all-wheel drive does reduce the economy, but the 22/31 mpg city/ highway that’s possible in four-cylinder Audi A6’s with four driven wheels is still quite decent.
The 3.0-liter is also remarkably smooth and refined, and fairly frugal.
Buyers after more pace from their Audi A6 will likely find the 3.0-liter supercharged six-cylinder gasoline engine to be more suitable for their needs. With outputs of 340 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque, this particular engine endows the Audi A6 with a notable amount of thrust that’s again on par with what similarly-specified competitors provide (especially in the mid-range, where the torque really comes into its own). Plus, as with the four-cylinder engine, the 3.0-liter is also remarkably smooth and refined, and fairly frugal (21/29 mpg city/highway) when you consider the grunt and the fact it’s only available in all-wheel drive. If such pace isn’t enough, then you can also get an even more powerful version of this same engine – though, with identical torque outputs and an increase to 340 hp, we don’t really feel it’s enough of an upgrade considering an Audi A6 with this engine will set you back $67,600. If you really need the sporty Audi A6, we’re more inclined to recommend the Audi S6: yes, it’s more expensive at $70,900, but the extra money does at least get you a 4.0-liter turbocharged eight cylinder gasoline engine with 450-hp and 405 lb-ft. Depending on which engine and drivetrain you go for, your Audi A6 will come with one of two automatic transmissions: a seven-speed unit for front-wheel drive versions, and an eight-speed automatic for all-wheel drive variants. In both instances, the transmission suits the character of the engines they’re paired to very well, with the smooth, quick shifts and the abundance of gear ratios to choose from ensuring acceleration is seamless and the engine is in its optimum rev range as often as possible. Both transmissions are also fine when you leave them to select the most appropriate gear on their own and, overall, they’re both really good automatics.
Standard equipment levels are also fairly good by segment standards, with all Audi A6 variants coming with leather upholstery.
Executive cars from German brands tend to be on the pricier side of the spectrum, but the Audi A6 is a rather surprising buck to that trend. Though not exactly what you’d call ‘cheap’, the entry-level Audi A6’s base price of $47,600 is pretty good for the mid-sized premium sedan – and especially when you consider the likes of the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class will set you back more than $50,000. Standard equipment levels are also fairly good by segment standards, with all Audi A6 variants coming with leather upholstery, heated front seats, three-zone climate control and front and rear parking sensors. Bar a couple of unusual omissions, the base ‘Premium’ spec of Audi A6 does come with a decent amount of equipment. It’s the $51,600 (or $58,600, if you go for the six-cylinder engine) ‘Premium Plus’ trim that we feel is where most Audi A6 buyers should consider starting out at. On top of coming with all-wheel drive as standard (a $2,200 option on the ‘Premium’ model), this specification also includes blind spot monitoring, built-in navigation, a premium audio system, 4G WiFi capability and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. Include the $500 Cold Weather Package (heated rear seats and heated steering wheel with shifter paddles), the $350 rear side airbags, and you’ll have all the Audi A6 you’ll likely need at a still-competitive price. We’re also inclined to suggest you go for the Driver Assistance Package on the basis that it contains quite a lot of handy tech (namely adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, emergency braking and a ‘top view’ camera system to aid parking manoeuvres in tighter spots), but we do acknowledge it’s a rather pricey option at $2,550. As nice as the $61,600 Prestige and $67,600 Competition trims are, we don’t think they’re worth considering on the basis that they don’t really add anything that substantially improves the ownership experience. We’d also advise you avoid the $1,050 Sport package, as you’re essentially paying extra to have an Audi A6 that doesn’t ride as smoothly as the base car.
The four-years/50,000-miles warranty is about average by segment standards.
Regardless of which variant you go for, the Audi A6 will be a safe vehicle. Though the array of stability systems is fairly standard fare by segment standards, the standard fit seat belt pretensioners are more worthy of note, and all vehicles come with front, side, curtain and front knee airbags. All in all, these have helped the Audi A6 on its way to a five-out-of-five-stars safety rating in its most recent crash test. The Audi A6 should also be fairly reliable: though the four-years/50,000-miles warranty is about average by segment standards, the car should be fairly sturdy, and the fact the Audi A6 has been on sale for so long by industry standards should mean all the major mechanical issues have been fully ironed out now. Residual values should also be fairly competitive, though those looking at getting as much of their car’s worth back come resale time may want to prioritize the Lexus GS over the Audi A6.
In some areas, the Audi A6 is starting to show its age a bit. From slightly low-res infotainment system graphics to a ride that more comfort-focused buyers will find to be a little bit firm, there are little bits here and there that betray the Audi A6’s relatively elderly status in the car world. The fact those critiques could be described as nit-picky, though, is testament to how competitive the Audi A6 remains after all these years. Though not quite a comprehensive class leader anymore, the Audi A6 still offers an overall package that remains impressively competitive after all of these years. Overall, we feel the Audi A6 is a very accomplished all-round package, and as such should be considered by anyone who’s currently shopping around for a new mid-sized executive sedan.