Audi A6 3.0 TDI Quattro: can't handle the pressure

  • Our A6 suffers an early incident
  • Right rear tyre blows out on M4
  • Was it a painless repair?

  • Our A6 suffers an early incident
  • Right rear tyre blows out on M4
  • Was it a painless repair?

It only ever happens when you have somewhere you need to be. I was en-route to the airport and while I wasn’t going to miss the plane, time was tighter than I’d usually leave it.

Barrelling down the A45 towards Wellingborough and BONG! The Audi signals discontent. A warning on the dash showed the below, and thoughts of waving at my Airbus as it passes overhead at 36,000 feet came flooding into my brain.

 Tyre pressure warning on Audi A6 long-term test car

The protocol to follow here is to pull over as soon as is safely possible, get out of the car and check all four tyres for damage or under-inflation. This I did, and there didn’t seem to be anything wrong whatsoever. What a relief, given what James suffered only a few weeks prior in the update below. 

Erroneous tyre pressure warnings are a common occurrence on modern cars. They can be caused by multiple issues including temperature, speed bumps and kerbs.

It is frustrating having to pull over and check when you’re in a hurry, but I’d much rather be warned of a possible problem than not at all. 

By Gareth Evans

 


 

Update 4: our A6 suffers an early incident

As I squeeze the throttle on our brand-new Audi A6 long-termer, 1.8-tonnes of German executive saloon wafts up the M4 slip-road heading west out of London. The sky is blue, the traffic is lighter than normal and the A6 should be the ideal companion for a work trip to the Cotswolds. What could possibly go wrong?

Thud. The back of the car steps out of line and the safety systems immediately kill the power to the wheels. Almost simultaneously a yellow symbol flashes up on the dashboard, accompanied by the message ‘underinflated rear right!’

The A6 had just suffered a blowout at 65mph and, admittedly, dealt with it very well indeed. Reassuring, when a quick search on YouTube throws up numerous times when drivers weren’t so lucky.  In fact, the baulk of that drama came with that exclamation mark incongruously tacked onto the end of the dashboard warning message.

Big wheels, but easy to change

Cue a swift manoeuvre onto the hard shoulder to inspect the damage. I breathe a sigh of relief as I spot that the alloy has come out unscathed – even if the tyre is as flat as a pancake.

Thankfully, the A6’s 20-inch wheel was easy enough to remove and replace with the space-saving spare – the hardest bit being trying to lift the huge alloy into the boot. Having said all that, we’d always strongly recommend you call out a breakdown patrol if your vehicle suffers a flat tyre on a busy high-speed road. Remember, more than 1,500 people are killed or injured each year on the hard shoulder. 

Tyre swap could have been slicker

A quick call to Audi’s booking centre and we got the car penned in for an afternoon appointment at Slough Audi, one of the only dealerships within striking distance to have the correct size tyre. However, it was clear on arrival that the dealership’s service department wasn’t expecting us.

Apparently, our tyre change had been provisionally booked-in (but not confirmed) during the timeslot usually reserved for the service team’s afternoon meeting, something which according to the service advisor we spoke to, isn't meant to happen. This meant that what should have been a slick in-and-out trip to the dealer, turned into a rather more drawn out affair which took around two hours.

Ignoring the breakdown in communication, however, that’s not a bad turnaround time for what ended up being a drop-in tyre replacement.

The cause of our puncture? I can’t be sure, but the slice in the tyre indicates that a damaged cats-eye could have been the culprit. The fact is though, is that it could have happened at any place and at any time. So, if you have the choice be sure to spec a car with a space-saving or full-size spare wheel. It could be a life-saver. 

 

Update 3: The screen of dreams

There’s a multitude of approaches to multimedia screens in cars these days, but I reckon the one in our Audi A6 is among the neatest around.

It’s not a touchscreen, which opens up a can of worms in itself – personally I’m much happier controlling these systems using the more intuitive haptic and rotary combination than having to take my eyes off the road to reach for a screen anyway  but others love to be able to control everything using the screen.

However, it’s the way it nestles itself into the dash when the car is off that I’m most impressed with. It’s such a simple, elegant answer to a question that many other firms struggle with. Mercedes-Benz is a prime offender here, with its screens looking like someone’s superglued an iPad onto the dash.

The Audi approach means that when the car’s switched off there’s a simplicity to the cabin design that makes it feel far more cohesive.

And the other point is theatre. It’s very cool to have the screen fold out when you push the metal engine start button.

Sadly, it’s unlikely this feature will be continued in the next A6 as the game has moved on significantly, which is another reason we’re happy we’re getting to spend time with the current model. 

Gareth Evans

 


 

Update 2: Early impressions

Two weeks into our time with the A6 and we’re just beginning to get under the skin of Audi’s large saloon.

Over the past 14 days we’ve done a couple of airport runs that highlighted its talent for covering a lot of ground extremely quickly.

The 3.0-litre V6 diesel motor has huge amounts of torque – 580Nm is available from just 1,600rpm - making overtaking the work of moments. It’s a distinct advantage to the six-cylinder layout when compared to the four-cylinder engines also on offer in the A6 range, which naturally have to work harder to reach any given speed.

The A6's 3.0-litre TDI diesel engine might not look particularly interesting but its performance is startling

It’ll be very interesting to keep tabs on the fuel economy, though, because usually with higher capacity comes bigger fuel bills. An alarming first-fill calculation showed 34.6mpg, when Audi claims 55mpg on the combined NEDC test. Just how carefully will we have to drive to hit that figure? We’ll find out in a future update…

The S Tronic twin-clutch automatic gearbox suits the engine well too, with smooth changes up and down the gears, but we do wish the paddles on the back of the steering wheel felt a little better quality. They’re plastic, and stand out in the A6 because the rest of the cabin’s an extremely nice place to be. 

The plastic paddles on the Audi A6 feel cheaper than the rest of the cabin

Before I’d had a chance to drive the A6, a number of colleagues borrowed the keys so gave me their first impressions too. Most centred on the ride quality, or more precisely the lack of it.

This car’s on 20-inch alloy wheels (which incidentally I reckon are the best match for the A6’s styling), and based on some previous experiences with Audis in similar specification I quickly ensured my spinal surgeon was on speed dial.

The A6's ride quality isn't as bad as I'd been led to believe

I’m pleased to report I’ve yet to encounter anything approaching discomfort so far, though. In fact, the non-adaptive suspension works very well for my sort of driving. If we were being ultra picky, it’s firmer than some rivals with air springs, but the trade-off for that is more engaging, predictable handling. More on that later.

And finally, a note on technology. Despite that fact this is an older design of car now relative to the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class, those two don’t feature many things conspicuous by their absence on the A6.

The main notable exceptions are adaptive cruise control and any sort of active lane-keeping system – both features common in the modern executive saloon market, playing an integral part in the autonomous driving functionality most cars of this type will feature soon.

Could the next A6 drive you to work?

Gareth Evans

 

 


 

Update 1: Welcome to the Audi A6 3.0 TDI

Joining the Parkers fleet is a car that is often overlooked nowadays. The Audi A6 Saloon has fallen off the radar recently because relative to its most popular main rivals, the recently updated BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class, it’s now getting on in years.

The A6 was launched to high acclaim back in 2011. But that was then, and this is now – six years on, and the car industry has come on a very long way indeed.

Audi A6 may be getting on a bit now, but we think it's still worthy of consideration

However, we think the Audi A6 is still worthy of a place on the fleet, because its maturity is one of the endearing things about it. Cars are tweaked continuously by their manufacturers during their lifetime – both during official facelifts such as the A6’s major overhaul in 2014, and also under the radar as and when required.

The result is that quite often, a later version of a car is significantly better than an early one.

So we’re expecting big things.

What spec is our Audi A6 Saloon?

We’ve gone for a very newsworthy engine. It’s a 3.0-litre diesel, at a time when that fuel is rapidly falling out of favour due to the Dieselgate scandal and the associated environmental implications.

But it’s also capable of some startlingly impressive performance statistics considering it’ll sprint from 0-62mph in 5.7 seconds. To put that into context, it's quicker than a Golf GTI Performance.

Doesn't look like anything special, but the Audi A6's 3.0 TDI V6 diesel engine has remarkable performance statistics

With claimed fuel economy of 55mpg and CO2 emissions of 138g/km – which incidentally also beats the aforementioned VW hot hatch – this is starting to look like one seriously impressive large saloon.

It has big appeal for company car drivers too, thanks to its blend of fairly competitive CO2 emissions and high performance. Throw in its great long-distance cruising capability, and it's starting to look like a compelling package. 

Audi A6 Black Edition

Our car has been specified in Black Edition trim, which is top of the tree as far as non-Audi Sport A6s are concerned. So, it comes with a decent array of standard kit. Highlights from the spec sheet include:

  • 20-inch alloys
  • S line and Black styling packs
  • LED headlights
  • Leather sports seats
  • Bose surround sound speaker system

We've also chosen a handful of optional extras on board. But not as many as as you usually find are fitted to cars like this. And that's due to its well-appointed Black Edition trim.

So, we have six optional extras:

  • Daytona Grey paint - £675
  • Technology Pack – high-spec multimedia system with sat-nav and smartphone connectivity - £1,625
  • Lighting Package – extra illumination inside and out - £265
  • Parking Pack – automatic parking with acoustic sensors all around the car - £810
  • Pre-sense Basic – prepares car for accident if car deems necessary - £260
  • Multifunction steering wheel – controls for multimedia and paddles for gearbox - £200

We’ll be thoroughly testing these extras to see if we reckon they’re worth it or not during our time with the car.

We’re also planning on putting some serious miles on the A6. We're planning on taking it on some epic journeys, while taking time to pit it against its newer rivals in what should be the ultimate large saloon face-off.

Stay tuned as we find out what life’s like during our Audi A6 Saloon long-term review. 

Gareth Evans

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