Audi A6 was known more for its luxury and comfort rather than its sharp looks or sporty drive. And then came the A5 and the A7 – the sport backs – making it even more obvious. But through the last half a decade, the A4 did reveal its sporty disposition among sedans of similar stature especially with its association with racing events like the DTM, and among its German rivals, Audi has garnered a reputation for being the brand with its “sporty side up”! The Audi A6 2012 has followed suit, the sportiness of its new version overshadowing the amply luxurious settings within.
The A6 presents itself in two options – the 2.8 L FSI and the 3.0 L TFSI. While the latter boosts the sporty spirit with 300 hp and 440 Nm of torque, the 2.8 naturally aspirated Quattro takes you by surprise looking rather meek on paper with a mere 204 bhp output. The truth is, it’s a tiger all right, except on paper.
This is a car that would be appropriately tested neither on the long run – though it’s a breeze on the highway – nor on our traffic-laden city roads – though the car with its almost embarrassingly obliging park assist as well as start-stop feature is just perfect for the job. The best place to experience the all-new A6 would be the F1 track or the Autodrome – as a matter of fact, it was aptly launched at the Yas Marina a few months ago. The most outstanding feature of the A6 is the zero-corrected handling. This A6, despite its world of comfort, is indeed a driver’s car.
The Audi A6 dash pronounces the propensity of the car to pamper the driver, with an angular-sitting facing the driver. The seven-speed S-tronic transmission puts any CVT to shame with its firm yet butter–smooth assent uphill to breathtaking velocities. Being almost 80 kg less than the predecessor in weight does translate to a nimbler drive. Yet, aided by superior traction and technology, the Audi A6 doesn’t give an inch, going exactly where you want it to on curvy roads or during frequent lane changing. Body roll? Never heard of it. But what you’ll surprisingly hear is the wind blowing against its solid, steam-liner like drive. The silence of the engine might have made it this noticeable – but the wind does make itself heard.
There is more on the Drive. But I’ve saved the best for last…
The new Audi A6 is designed to look and feel light and powerful at once. The reassuring thud of the lightly closing door echoes from the past, despite the largely aluminium composition of the new doors. The use of the light metal for about 20% of the entire body underpins the lightness of its being.
The sharply accented ‘tornado’ line running all the way between the end-lights accentuates the design elegance which I kept taking in every time I slowed down or parked next to a glass structure by the road.
As I said at the start, the sport quotient of the A6 overrides the conventional luxury paradigm of the A6. While providing impeccable support and reassurance to the driver, the seats are also positioned a shade lower than most luxury saloons. This sort of changes the perspective of the passengers and forces them to adapt to a more inward-bent posture. What the family will love though is that a quick change of course on the highway or even extreme negotiation measures wouldn’t disturb their slumber, thanks to the very negligible body roll and unflinching stability even in challenging conditions.
Audi’s family or executive sedan is perhaps not as roomy as it used to be but the space is more meaningfully filled up, and remains as elegant as ever. The good length of the A6 is put to good use in the boot that serves to stow away a little buggy, a couple of strollers or, perhaps, stuff from half the retinue of the Beckhams! However, in-cabin storage falls short when you want to fit in more than a pair of goggles or a couple of CDs.
The four-zone climate control is yet another thoughtful feature but I guess the design consciousness is a bit overdone in placing the rear AC vent too far back. It eats into the rear centre seating, already cramped by the raised drive train platform, virtually making the mid-seat dysfunctional but for the Christmas elf that hiked a ride. The moon-roof too could disappoint children at the rear, for it stops way shorter than they would appreciate. The sunscreens at the back and sides are, of course, a welcome addition, contributing to a very efficiently cooled interior.
Cabin and controls
Audi is known to spend years perfecting every little thing about their cars. Not that the others don’t. But in an Audi, it always shows.
From the ‘theatre-setting’ window controls that make sure you got the rear glass down when you want to do just that, to an exceptionally driver-friendly cruise control lever; or the steering leather with its sensuous feeling like warm, naked skin; there is a unique sort of driver engagement in the new Audi A6.
The dashboard is divested of any sort of clutter or confusion with an evenly distributed array of controls flanking the transmission console. What’s an impressive innovation is the use of a touchpad on the console to choose radio stations by a mere touch or actually spell out your alphabetical cue while programming the destination. The navigation package and the rear parking guidance are quite intuitive and wise while the music system is as expected, top-class!
Uniquely Audi A6
Most cars in its category are sure a class apart but still the Audi A6 manages to carve a niche for its accurate road control among its elite peers. It traces an arc, how much ever hard the calling of the road, like a veteran artist draws a perfect circle. The drive experience in the new Audi A6 comes in 4 versions to match the driver’s disposition – basically it’s a mix and match between a sporty and comfort drive that can be customized to adjust the steering and throttle response. A soft, comfortable drive feel or a firmer, more powerful drive is on the menu.
The confidence in the car, and machines in general, is put to the ultimate test when you beckon the Park Assist feature of the Audi A6. It demands the total surrender of your judgment and suspension of disbelief for a few short but nail-biting moments during which the steering turns at an eerie pace and the car parks, all by itself, in the slot it senses will fit its breadth and length – all you got to do is apply the brakes or adjust the speed!
The Audi A6 2012 comes equipped with a conditional love for the earth and a start-stop mode. It switches off the car at signals or in morning traffic – with its steering hydraulics in a deadlock – as long as you have your foot securely planted on the brake. If your love for the earth is strong enough – that being the condition earlier stated – to overlook the half a second delay before the car springs back to life, the A6, you and Mother Earth are going to be an awesome team for conservation!
Upside: Handling sets a new German benchmark, Cabin dynamics offer exceptional driver engagement, Intuitive Navigation with touchpad entry, Automatic parallel parking feature
Flipside: Some might find the seats too sporty for executive comfort, Rear AC vent eats into mid-seat functionality, Wind noise at high speeds, Drive selector doesn’t change suspension settings
Drive courtesy: Audi Middle East
Picture courtesy: Prashant Sankhe and Supplied