THIS SEDAN IS A SMOOTH OPERATOR
2019 AUDI A6
Audi has not one, but two newfor-2019 four-door sedans to consider: the more formal mid-size A6 sedan and the larger A7 coupe-like hatchback. Both share the same powertrain setup of a turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 and standard Quattro all-wheel drive. The A7 is definitely a grand tourer, capable of scooting past transport trucks and buses in Dynamic mode but happier gliding along in Comfort mode at a more refined pace. Does the A6 deliver the same experience?
Oh my, yes it does — just on a slightly smaller scale. I doubt if Audi would appreciate me saying the car nearly put me to sleep, as that would imply it is boring. But it is so relaxing to drive that I found myself in a deep state of mellow.
The tester wasn’t just any garden-variety, base $75,800 A6. No, it was loaded with more than $21,000 in options, and it was several of these packages that seriously increased my feelings of bonhomie. First and foremost was the $2,400 air suspension, which does a superior job of filtering out any tarmac nasties without completely isolating the ride experience.
The $3,600 Individual Contour Seat package, which soothed my abused spine, will be a godsend to long-distance travellers. The customized contour front seats offer multiple adjustment settings and are fitted with ventilation and three massage functions. The $5,100 Bang & Olufsen 3D surround-sound audio system allowed me to belt out my favourite Whitesnake Christmas tunes, dropping my blood pressure by at least 10 points.
Although I wouldn’t necessarily recommend to anybody considering a solid, mid-size European touring sedan that the now-$99K A6 is the né plus ultra of its class, but it’s up there. And being far more circumspect with the options list won’t change that fact.
Canada-bound A6s come with a 335-horsepower, turbocharged 3.0-L V6. No more supercharger and no more eight-speed automatic, its replacement a new seven-speed dual-clutch unit. In addition, there’s the sedan’s new 48-volt mild-hybrid system, the same as in the A7. A belt alternator starter (BAS) works with a lithium-ion battery. During deceleration, the BAS recovers up to 12 kW of energy. In real-world driving, the mild hybrid technology supposedly contributes to a fuel consumption reduction of up to 0.7 L/100 kilometres. A lot of extra technology for such a small improvement in fuel economy? You decide.
Otherwise, the boosted V6 is the very definition of smoothness. Yet, unless you have the gas pedal pinned to the firewall (which will launch the Audi from rest to 100 km/h in about 5.2 seconds), getting the sedan moving initially takes a bit of effort. as it weighs a hefty 1,935 kilograms, as much as many mid-size crossovers.
Despite its avoirdupois, the A6 likes the twisties, especially when fitted with the optional all-wheel steering, as well as dynamic steering (both part of the $2,500 Dynamic package). The rear wheels turn up to five degrees; at speeds up to 60 km/h they turn in the opposite direction to the front wheels, reducing the turning circle by up to one metre. Above 60 km/h, the wheels turn in the same direction, increasing stability. Dynamic steering varies the steering ratio as a function of driving speed and the setting in the Drive Select system.
It seems to be a sign of the times that Audi believes its all-digital MMI touch-response system is more of a defining feature than the A6’s mechanical bits. OK, it is cool, and more to the point, far easier to operate than the previous version. Two large centre console displays replace most of the buttons and controls. The driver manages the infotainment on the 10.1-inch top display screen. The bottom 8.6-inch display is used for climate control, seat heat and ventilation, and a few other vehicle functions.
Audi’s virtual cockpit, in the driver’s face with its 12.3-inch high-resolution display, is a thing of beauty, showing the speedometer, tach and other information, including a redundant map in full-colour glory. Operation is via the multi-function buttons on the steering wheel. There is also a head-up display that projects relevant information onto the windshield.
The cabin is a mix of high-tech trickery and functional luxury, typical of Audi. Yet, there is one compromise to the A6 if it’s to be considered as family transportation. Considering the sedan is almost five metres long, rear-seat leg- room is on the skimpy side. Yeah, not everybody is six-foot-two, but then again, I was the shortest male member of my family. At least golf clubs can ride in comfort; with its capacity of 530 litres, the trunk will accommodate two bags crosswise.
In a segment dominated by the Mercedes E-Class, BMW 5 Series and Lexus ES, the Audi A6 — which sits about mid-pack among the 15 or so competing models — is more than a freshened (though still familiar and stylistically restrained) take on the upscale, European, mid-size sport/ family sedan. With heightened levels of comfort, safety and technology, and its smooth operation, the A6 is, relatively speaking, a superior ride for the pleasure-seekers among us.
2019 Audi A6.