There’s a decent range of petrol and diesel power providing Audi A6 performance.
Opt for the 3.0-litre TFSI V6 quattro and the performance ups a gear – it will take 5.5 seconds to get from a standing start to 62mph and has an electronically limited top speed of 155mph. That’s quick for a car that weighs 1,740kg. Three gearboxes are available on the A6: a six-speed manual for front-wheel drive, eight-speed multitronic or seven-speed S tronic. The multitronic CVT and manual 'boxes are available on all front-wheel-drive models while the S tronic comes as standard on the quattro models. Introduced in 2012, the 2.0-litre petrol engine in the A6 comes with electric hybrid power to offer 242bhp and drives through an automatic gearbox to deliver strong acceleration coupled to decent economy.
The diesel engine options in the Audi A6 saloon include a 174bhp 2.0-litre TDI, a 201bhp 3.0-litre TDI and a 241bhp 3.0-litre V6 TDI. There is also the 3.0-litre V6 Biturbo diesel that was added in early 2012 with 309bhp. The largest seller will be the 2.0-litre diesel engine since it’s the most frugal, greenest and it also makes the car feel more nimble than the heavier 3.0-litre diesel units. The engines are remarkably refined and the stats are respectable. The 174bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine will complete the 0-62mph benchmark sprint in 8.7 seconds while it has an achievable top speed of 141mph.
Engine updates in 2014
All four TDI engines, including a new Ultra efficient 2-litre diesel, were revamped to meet the limits of the Euro 6 emission standard
The new 2-litre TDI ultra, when paired with 17-inch alloy wheels and with the S tronic automatic gearbox, should return 67.3mpg and 109g/km of CO2 in SE form, says Audi.
This new engine brings the A6’s BIK down from 18 per cent to 17 per cent, and road tax from band C to band B.
It produces 187bhp and 400Nm of torque, taking the A6 from 0-62mph in 8.2 seconds.
The 3-litre six-cylinder TDI with 215bhp replaces the existing 201bhp version, and is available in in front-wheel-drive or quattro all-wheel-drive.
A 268bhp variant takes over from the outgoing 242bhp engine, and the top of the range 3-litre TDI diesel biturbo produces 316bhp, seven bhp up on its predecessor. Both are linked exclusively to quattro all-wheel drive.
New gearbox options
Along with 2014’s engine upgrades came a raft of changes to the available gearboxes.
While the biturbo diesel uses an eight speed tiptronic automatic transmission, all the other V6 engines are now linked to a seven speed S tronic twin-clutch transmission.
This replaces the eight-speed multitronic CVT gearbox and helps to improve economy with fast gear changes and a new ‘coasting’ function.
The six-speed manual gearbox which is available as an option in the Ultra model is a new light weight, low friction design.
It’s hard to look past the 174bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine and six-speed manual gearbox for company drivers, though the multitronic auto doesn’t hamper emissions or economy drastically so is the one we’d choose.
The A6 could be better. Audi claims its cars have ‘Advancement through Technology’ or as they like to call it ‘Vorsch Sprung Durch Technik.’ However, the A6 is still not as rewarding to drive as a BMW 5-Series or is it as cosseting as a Mercedes-Benz E-Class. The 2.0-litre variant is much better in the handling department when compared to the 3.0-litre powered car.
The lighter engine makes the car feel more nimble and agile when cornering. Use the Drive Select system and this enhances the driver to tweak the throttle, gearbox and suspension. You can vary the level of damping in the suspension with 'sport', 'comfort' and 'intermediate' modes but it doesn't quite have what it takes to provide the level of driving enjoyment offered by a 5-Series.
The car is set up quite well: it has a firm ride and the chassis is good but the big downside is the steering. Whether you tinker with the Drive Select or not, it feels vague and it is not as engaging as the BMW which is a real shame. Stiffer sports suspension lowers the car by 20mm and that comes as standard when you choose the A6 in S line trim. This gives the car better turn-in while grip levels are good.
The quattro four-wheel drive provides excellent all-weather traction while the powerful six-cylinder models with front-wheel drive can overwhelm, with front tyres tending to wheelspin. With that in mind it's probably worth choosing quattro where possible.