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Audi A6 generations

What is the Audi A6?

Five generations of cars have worn the Audi A6 badge since it replaced the 100 range in 1994, but the premise remains the same. Each is an upmarket range of large models that compete directly against the likes of the BMW 5 Series, Jaguar’s XF, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Volvo’s S90 and V90 twins.

Introduced in 2018, the current Mk5 incarnation of A6 shares much of its mechanical componentry and underpinnings with the more expensive Audi A7 and A8 line-ups, rather than the smaller A4 and A5 ranges.

At-a-glance 2019 Audi A6 specs

  • Top speed: 149-155mph
  • 0-62mph: 5.5-8.3 seconds
  • Fuel economy: 47.9-62.8mpg
  • Emissions: 117-155g/km of CO2
  • Boot space: 565-1,680 litres

Which versions of the Audi A6 are available?

Fifth-generation Audi A6 Saloon

Audi has a tendency to flesh-out its model ranges gradually over each one’s lifecycle, meaning that as the current generation of A6 – known by brand aficionados by its C8 development code – is still relatively new; most of the derivatives are yet to appear.

Presently available are the four-door Audi A6 Saloon and its estate counterpart, the Audi A6 Avant. A replacement for the jacked-up Audi A6 Allroad – an Avant with an SUV-style makeover – is expected to join the range during 2019.

Similarly, the current engine range is limited to a pair of diesels with mild-hybrid electrical assistance to elevate fuel efficiency. Under Audi’s revised powerplant designation strategy, the four-cylinder 2.0-litre is known as the 40 TDI, while the V6 3.0-litre is the 50 TDI. The former is front-wheel drive, while the latter is equipped as standard with four-wheel drive and marketed under Audi’s long-standing Quattro badge.

As is usual in this segment of the market now, only automatic gearboxes are available, although the A6 is fitted with a pair of options: lower-powered ones have a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission called S Tronic, while the punchier models come with a conventional eight-speed automatic dubbed Tiptronic.

At this early juncture for the Audi A6, only two trim levels are on sale – Sport and S Line. Over time we expect SE entry-level versions, as well as stealthier Vorsprung models.

Fifth-generation Audi A6 Avant

These developments are likely to tie-in with the introduction of petrol engines, as well as a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version of the Audi A6, expected to use the E-Tron moniker.

There’s a sense of inevitability that the A6 range will also be expanded with a suite of high performance derivatives: our estimates are that the Audi S6 will appear during 2019, with the brutally quick Audi RS 6 likely to debut in 2020, possibly only with the Avant bodystyle.

Audi A6 styling and engineering

Despite the carefully evolved appearance of the bodywork, the current generation of Audi A6 is underpinned by a new platform, which allows for the inclusion of mild-hybrid and plug-in hybrid electrification without compromising cabin or bootspace.

Although the exterior styling is not surprising, it is punctuated by interesting details, such as the LED lighting graphics front and rear, but it’s the interior that’s more of a technology showcase.

Fifth-generation Audi A6 dashboard

Three screens dominate the dashboard, with the two on the centre console providing touch-sensitive control over most of the A6’s functions. It looks slick, but arguably it requires a greater degree of concentration to operate while driving than its predecessor’s Multimedia Interface (MMI) rotary controller.

Nevertheless, the passenger compartment is spacious, solidly built and beautifully finished.

Is the Audi A6 good to drive?

If you’re a keener driver, then a BMW 5 Series or Jaguar XF is still likely to sate enthusiastic types in a way that the Audi A6 doesn’t. The difference between them is far from the chasm it once was, but similar to the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, the focus here is comfort, in spite of the sporty trim packages.

From launch, this generation of A6 was available with four different suspension types, but we don’t expect all permutations to be available for the entirety of this model’s lifecycle.

There’s a standard conventional set-up, along with a lowered, stiffer version on S Line models, together with two adaptive choices to vary the firmness. Despite Audi’s of yore riding with an unnecessary degree of firmness, these ones are much more compliant.

Fifth-generation Audi A6 Saloon

Of the two adaptive versions – one uses variable-rate shock absorbers, the other is a full air-cushioned suspension system – we’d urge caution specifying the latter. It’s supremely comfortable at urban speeds, yet feels disappointingly unsettled when plying along smooth motorways.

Additionally, there’s a boost for the A6 in terms of how manoeuvrable it is courtesy of four-wheel steering, both increasing high-speed stability and making the large Audi more nimble around town.

How much does the Audi A6 cost?

With the least expensive model in the initial wave of the Audi A6 launch phase costing a tad under £40,000, a reminder is served that premium-badged cars don’t tend to be cheap purchases.

As with the car market generally, most customers will go a PCP or PCH route in order to reduce outgoings significantly.

To this end, the A6 is typically only marginally pricier than the BMW 5 Series for an equivalent model, while the Mercedes E-Class is slightly pricier still.

Thanks to healthy deposit contributions, the Volvo S90 is by far the bargain of the moment.

How reliable this generation of Audi A6 is remains to be seen once a significant number have aged and clocked-up higher mileages. Learn how this model’s rated by its drivers with our owners’ reviews.

  • Watch our Audi A6 video review
  • Audi A6 Model History

    Current generation Audi A6

    June 2018 – Deliveries of new A6 Saloon begin. Relatively simple line-up of two diesel engines and a sole, high-powered petrol, with Sport and S Line trims and a huge amount of optional extras.
    April 2019 - Black Edition available as top-of-the-range model, building on S line specification with black exterior bodywork, larger wheels and rear privacy glass.

    Fourth-generation Audi A6 (2011-18)

    Fourth-generation Audi A6 Saloon

    Following the template laid down by its predecessors, the C7-generation of A6s comprised of a very comprehensive range.

    Core to the offering were A6 Saloon, A6 Avant and A6 Allroad bodystyles, the latter of which arrived a year after the others in 2012.

    Performance-focused Audi S6 models were available, powered by twin-turbo V8 engines, with the Audi RS 6 Avant, completed with more muscular bodywork, packing a 560hp version of the same engine.

    All models were mildly facelifted in 2015, with crisper LED lighting details and minor trim changes, but they fundamentally looked very similar.

    Mainstream models featured a variety of four- and V6-cylinder TSI petrol and TDI diesel engines, with Quattro four-wheel drive available across the majority of the range to complement the front-driven versions.

    Find out what people who drive the Mk4 Audi A6 think of them in our owners’ review section and seek out used examples for sale.

    Third-generation Audi A6 (2004-11)

    Third-generation Audi A6 Avant

    Although the styling of the Mk3 Audi A6 wasn’t as daring as the generation it replaced, it did herald the introduction of the German brand’s full-height grille that had been teased previously on a number of concept cars.

    First to debut was the Audi A6 Saloon in 2004, followed in 2005 by the A6 Avant, with the rugged A6 Allroad completing the trio in 2006.

    Audi was already enjoying a reputation for building cars with high quality interiors, a trait continued here, with additional technology introduced to the A6 in the form of the Multimedia Interface (MMI) – a rotary control system that rivalled BMW’s iDrive.

    Diesel-engined A6s dominated sales with a broad offering of four- and V6-cylinder TDIs, complementing the less popular petrols that were offered in similar configurations, along with a 4.2-litre V8.

    For the Audi S6 and RS 6 – both available as Saloons and Avants – Audi pulled out its big gun and shoehorned-in a 5.2-litre V10 powerplant producing up to 579hp.

    There was a subtle refresh in 2008, with the most obvious visual changes limited to the introduction of LED day-running lights on high-end models, and broader tail lamps that were bisected by the bootlid on A6 Saloons.

    Discover how easy the Mk3 Audi A6 is to live with by browsing our owners’ reviews and hunt-out examples for sale.

    Second-generation Audi A6 (1997-05)

    Second-generation Audi A6 Saloon

    For some, the unadorned, minimalist lines of the Mk2 Audi A6 reflect a self-confidence simplicity in the brand’s design language that’s since fallen by the wayside, for others it looks like a well-used bar of soap.

    Whichever side of the fence you stand on, there’s no doubting that the svelte second-generation C5 model is striking, most notably with the curved rump of the A6 Saloon that went on sale over a year before the similarly-bottomed TT Coupe.

    The more capacious estate version, the Audi A6 Avant followed in 1998, while there was an interesting departure in 2000 with the introduction of the high-rise, plastic-clad Audi Allroad aimed squarely at Volvo’s V70 XC. Although clearly derived from the Avant body, it didn’t have an A6 badge the first time around.

    A blink-and-you-missed-it refresh arrived in 2002, limited to revised lighting graphics and a greater degree of body-coloured exterior trim to replace the earlier grey plastic.

    There was a diverse range of petrol and diesel powerplants on offer, ranging from a 1.8-litre four-cylinder up to a 4.2-litre V8.

    Developments of that largest motor ensured both the sportier Audi S6 and RS 6 models, the latter sold in Britain only in Avant form, were indecently quick.

    Find out if the Mk2 Audi A6 is a reliability nightmare with our owners’ reviews and check out cars from this generation for sale.

    First-generation Audi A6 (1994-98)

    First-generation Audi A6 Saloon

    When is a new car not a new car? When it’s the Mk1 Audi A6, known by fans of the firm as the C4 generation.

    How so? Well, this version originally went on sale as the Audi 100 in 1991 and received a mild facelift and rename in 1994. Despite being revealed after the first-generation Audi A8, the A6 was the first of the A-prefixed Audis to make it to Britain.

    Two bodystyles were sold – the traditional Audi A6 Saloon and the load-lugging Audi A6 Estate. For reasons known only to Audi itself, a decision was made in the early-1990s not to use the Avant name for its wagons during this time in the UK.

    Four-, five- and six-cylinder petrol and diesels were sold in Britain, ranging from 1.8- to 2.8-litres in capacity, although some markets were also offered a 4.2-litre V8.

    Topping the range in the performance stakes was the Audi S6 – which confusingly replaced the 100-based Audi S4 during the 1994 realignment – although by contemporary standards it sounds rather tame, thanks to a 230hp 2.2-litre five-cylinder petrol motor.

    Has the Mk1 Audi A6 stood the test of time? Find out with our owners’ reviews and see whether there are any bargains to be had in the used cars for sale listings.