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Audi A6

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Whatcar? Review

For

The Audi A6 is refined and has a luxurious, spacious interior. It's also well equipped and the engines are impressively efficient and economical.

Against

It isn't as rewarding to drive as a Jaguar XF and some of the controls are a little fiddly.

Summary

Classy, roomy and good value for money – the Audi A6 is an impressive executive saloon.

Performance

The 2.0-litre diesel engine revs smoothly and gives the A6 a decent turn of pace; it never feels remotely underpowered. As you step up the engine range, you're struck by how effortless the performance becomes. The 3.0 TDI is available in two power outputs, and the higher-powered version barely needs to be revved to keep up with traffic. The twin-turbo 3.0 BiTDI is astonishingly quick.

Ride & Handling

Being lighter than most rivals helps the A6 to feel reasonably nimble for such a big car. The standard suspension gives a decent balance of comfort and control, so we'd question the need for the optional air suspension system. Versions with sportier suspension and bigger wheels have an overly firm ride. The steering is light and undemanding, but not especially communicative. As you'd expect, four-wheel-drive versions provide excellent traction.

Refinement

The 2.0-litre diesel 'Ultra' engine is one of the most refined four-cylinder diesels money can buy; it's smooth and supremely quiet when cruising, and doesn't have the background rumble of the six-cylinder diesels. There's virtually no engine vibration through the steering wheel or gearlever, either. There's a bit of wind noise, and a small amount of suspension thud over sharp bumps, but on the whole the A6 is a wonderfully hushed car.

Buying & Owning

Every diesel version is efficient and economical compared with rivals, and strong resale values help to make most models sensible choices. The 2.0 TDI Ultra promises to be about as cheap as it gets for company car and private buyers, given the low CO2 emissions, slow depreciation and decent finance deals usually on offer. The six-cylinder diesel models will be significantly more expensive to buy and run.

Quality & Reliability

The A6 more than lives up to Audi's reputation for excellent cabin quality. The materials, build quality and attention to detail are faultless throughout, and the overall ambience isn't far off that of Audi's pricier A8 luxury saloon. Sadly, quality doesn't equal dependability: the A6 scored badly for reliability in the latest JD Power customer satisfaction survey.

Safety & Security

As you'd expect, the A6 is brimming with the latest safety kit, including six airbags and a stability control system. The result was a maximum five-star rating when Euro NCAP crash-tested the car. Optional extras include rear side airbags and a system that steers you back on course if you start to wander from your lane on the motorway. An alarm is fitted to help fend off thieves.

Behind The Wheel

There's plenty of adjustment for the supportive driver's seat and the steering wheel. The upper dashboard is refreshingly clutter-free, too, but there are a lot of similar-looking switches clustered around the MMI controller by the gearlever, which tends to divert your eyes from the road all too often.

Space & Practicality

It's unlikely that A6 buyers will wish their car had more space. There's vast amounts of head- and legroom for those in the front and rear seats, and the cabin has an airy feel overall. The boot holds slightly more luggage than a BMW 5 Series' can, and there are split/folding rear seatbacks as standard to boost practicality.

Equipment

Our favourite trim is SE, which includes sat-nav, leather trim, four-zone climate control, front and rear parking sensors, and automatic lights and wipers. There's a hefty premium for S line trim, which adds lowered and stiffened suspension, larger wheels, and LED front and rear lights. Options include a popular Technology Package, which brings online functions and a larger screen with better graphics.