Welcome to the fleet

  • New 3.0TDi Quattro S Line joins the Parkers test fleet
  • Diesel engine promises pace and economy
  • Quattro four-wheel drive should help come the winter months

Saloons have been declining in favour with the British car buying public.

The three-box shaped silhouette has been passed over for the more glamorous four-door coupes, chunky 4x4s or even 'lifestyle' estates.

Even at the top end of the premium car market, the traditional saloon has new competition in the shape of four-door coupes such as the Mercedes-Benz CLS or the BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe.

So we'll be looking at what the appeal of the executive saloon is, how well it compares to other forms of executive travel and how a large saloon does as family transport.

Audi A6 saloon

We have chosen the Audi A6 as it is the latest generation of the executive saloons to be launched - BMW revised its 5 Series in 2010 while the Mercedes-Benz E-Class received a mild makeover in 2013.

This version of the A6 is the 3.0TDi Quattro S Line. It packs the larger diesel engine (there is a 2-litre diesel and also a higher powered version of the 3-litre diesel) and also the seven-speed S Tronic version of Audi’s range of automatic gearboxes.

Audi A6 S Tronic Automatic gear selector

It uses a dual clutch system to pre-select the next gear so it is smooth, responsive and helps the A6 eke out the diesel. In short, it’s a compromise that can deliver both a hard-charging, back lane blast or a smooth, relaxed cruise on the motorway.

You could also choose a multitronic gearbox which is a Continually Various Transmission (CVT), which is designed to maximise fuel efficiency, or the tiptronic (only available on the more powerful 313bhp b-iturbo 3-litre diesel) which has eight gears and is designed to deliver a more sporty driving experience thanks to quicker gear changes. 

The performance scores on the doors for the Parkers long-term A6 are nearly 242bhp and 580Nm of pulling power, which makes for some impressive figures such as 0-62mph in just over 6 seconds.

More important are the running costs. Official figures state an average of 47mpg while emissions are pegged at 156g/km of CO2. So I’m expecting a real-world mid-30s average fuel consumption while car tax costs £140 both for the first and subsequent years according to 2013/14 charge rates. 

A lot of people come into A6 ownership via their company car scheme. So user-choosers should calculate tax costs using a basic P11d price of £42,080 with BIK band of 26 percent (so at the 20 percent tax rate it’s nearly £183 per month, at 40% it’s £366).

The S Line is the mid-range trim (above SE spec and below Black Edition) and it’s kitted out with only two extras: the impressively sounding Advanced Technology pack (cost £3,250) and heated front seats (£300).

Auid A6 saloon S Line comes with full leather interior

As you would expect on a premium saloon there is a lot of kit as standard on the S Line including electronic parking brake, full leather interior, 18-inch wheels, lowered suspension, front sports seats, three-spoke steering wheel with gear change paddles mounted behind the wheel, Xenon headlights and LED daytime running lights and rear lights, plus headlight washers.

Audi A6 interior including sat nav display

So we’ll be assessing just how good or otherwise the A6 saloon proves to be, which kit shines through and whether an executive saloon is an unfairly overlooked for other more ‘lifestyle’ premium cars.

Total mileage: 71 miles

Average mpg: 47 mpg (claimed)