Audi runs for of­fice

Rid­ing a sales surge, the A6 with its up­dated diesels is the maker’s can­di­date for the mo­bile ex­ec­u­tive suite

Herald Sun - Motoring - - FIRST DRIVE - CRAIG DUFF craig.duff@news.com.au

WHEN you’re fac­ing an up­hill bat­tle to re­gain seg­ment supremacy, opt for diesel. That’s Audi’s ap­proach to its facelifted A6 large pres­tige ve­hi­cles.

Its base model 1.8-litre four­cylin­der turbo is the only petrol-pow­ered ve­hi­cle now in the reg­u­lar range.

The re­vised diesel en­gines are no­table for their re­fine­ment and re­duced fuel con­sump­tion — the best-sell­ing 2.0-litre turbo diesel four now uses just 4.2L/100km, based on the Euro­pean test cy­cle.

Audi has also ditched the con­tin­u­ously vari­able “Mul­ti­tronic” trans­mis­sion in favour of a seven-speed du­al­clutch auto that adds to the sporti­ness and cuts fuel con­sump­tion.

The reg­u­lar A6 Avant (wagon) will be dropped from the new line-up, though the higher-rid­ing and tougher-look­ing All­road will be re­tained, along with the as­ton­ish­ingly quick biturbo V8 RS6 Avant.

The up­date comes as sales of the cur­rent A6 have surged by more than 28 per cent year to date.

The first cars are ex­pected to ar­rive in Aus­tralia in March-April, herald­ing another step in Audi’s push to over­take BMW as the No. 2 pres­tige im­porter by 2016.

VALUE

Audi says there will be far more fea­tures with only a mi­nor adjustment to prices, which now start at $77,900 for the front-drive 2.0 petrol model. The up­date will have a smaller dis­place­ment en­gine, a turbo 1.8-litre, but out­puts are up and fuel use is well down.

The same ap­plies to the 2.0‒litre turbo diesel, which cur­rently costs $79,500. Both en­try cars are front-drive — buy­ers have to step up to the six‒cylin­der diesels to add the all‒paw quat­tro driv­e­train.

The reg­u­lar quat­tro model is the only ver­sion to lose power. The 3.0-litre turbo diesel comes in 160kW spec­i­fi­ca­tion, which should bring the price be­low the ex­ist­ing model’s $108,400.

Top­ping out the A6 range is a biturbo vari­ant crank­ing out 235kW and 650Nm. That en­gine is matched to an eight‒speed con­ven­tional trans­mis­sion — the sev­en­speed dual-clutch strug­gles to cope with so much torque.

Prices shouldn’t shift far from $119,700.

TECH­NOL­OGY

Each vari­ant is more fru­gal than its pre­de­ces­sor.

The in­fo­tain­ment has been up­dated, though it still lacks the app-based con­nec­tiv­ity avail­able in the US and Europe. Drop a data SIM into the car and the A6 will now har­ness the mo­bile 4G net­work to speed up in-car con­nec­tiv­ity.

The driver’s dis­play now has a sec­ondary hires satnav screen nes­tled be­tween speedo and tacho.

It’s a marked im­prove­ment with­out be­ing as clever as the Audi TT’s vir­tual cock­pit.

Audi spokesman Shaun Cleary says that adopt­ing the TT’s tech­nol­ogy would have re­quired a new wiring loom and that was ruled out for the facelift.

DE­SIGN

Ea­gle-eyed car fans will note the mi­nor tweaks to the front bumper and the slim­mer LED tail-lights but the av­er­age ob­server won’t ap­pre­ci­ate it’s an up­dated model, given most of the changes are to the driv­e­train and in­te­rior elec­tron­ics. The changes add 17mm to the A6’s length.

SAFETY

The A6 is a five-star ve­hi­cle. ANCAP scored it 34.91/37 when it launched in 2011.

The re­sult would have been even more im­pres­sive had the driver’s door not un­latched in the side im­pact crash test, a flaw that cost the car a full point.

DRIV­ING

Most Aus­tralian buy­ers don’t tick the op­tion for airbag sus­pen­sion and that’s a good thing. Out­side of chauf­feur du­ties — in which case the A8 is the ma­chine of choice — the sus­pen­sion trades off too much feel for what the car is do­ing, even if it does pam­per pas­sen­gers.

The more con­ven­tional steel springs weren’t avail­able to test, so Cars­guide tested the glass fi­bre re­in­forced plas­tic springs used in the new wagon mod­els, after be­ing as­sured they’d been de­vel­oped to mir­ror the per­for­mance of the ex­ist­ing metal coils.

If that’s the case, there is a mi­nor trade-off in terms of com­pli­ance over small ridges and ruts. The up­side is far more feel for what the car is do­ing. Money well saved, then.

Mi­nor tweaks The up­date brings slim­mer LED tail-lights — most of the up­dates are to the driv­e­train and in­te­rior

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