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Audi A6 2.0 TDI SE
DON’T you just hate that feeling when you’ve spent a lot of money on a new outfit and nobody notices?
Well, Audi must feel a little bit like that over their new A6 because even though they’ve gone to a lot of trouble to make it perfect, unless you look a little closer you wouldn’t notice anything different.
Audi have played it safe with the A6 and opted for a little nip and tuck rather than a full facelift. It’s a premium player in a competitive segment for the brand so isn’t in desperate need of any major cosmetic surgery because it already has plenty of admirers. These buyers like to know what they’re getting, and that’s understated luxury.
And they will certainly get that. The new A6 doesn’t shout about its goodies. Instead, it saves them as a treat for its driver.
Beyond face value, things have certainly moved on and the body is riddled with Vorsprung durch Technik. The new composite steelaluminium structure chassis has had the benefit of the brand’s most lightweight construction techniques.
More than 20 per cent of the new A6’s body is aluminium and it is 30kg lighter than the outgoing model. This not only improves the car’s power to weight ratio but also its fuel efficiency, C02 emissions and ultimately its company car tax band. Are you smiling yet?
The 2.0-litre TDI as tested is a class leader in its segment with CO2 emissions of 129g/km and a fuel consumption figure of 57.6mpg on the combined cycle. Technologies to conserve energy like idle-stop also work alongside the A6’s engine to really make it as frugal as it can be.
The real delight of all the weightsaving is that the front-wheel-drive A6 feels light, quick and agile to drive. And although the steering lacks a little involvement it does corner very well. The new model is longer and wider than the model it replaces and sits lower to the ground. The front wheels are pushed further forward, producing a car with less front overhang and with more weight inside the wheelbase, which is what helps it glide around the bends perfectly.
The four-cylinder engine has been almost entirely redeveloped, generating 177bhp and putting out 280lb ft of torque between 1,750 and 2,500 rpm. The manual transmission option propels the A6 from 0 to 62mph in 8.7 seconds.
The engine is strong, refined and responsive with plenty of low-down torque. It is also remarkably quiet, but if you listen carefully it will reward you with a bit of a snort when you kick down on the accelerator.
Little wind and road noise makes the A6 a relaxing long-distance cruiser and the ride feels smooth and comfortable. The engine always feels capable and you may have to keep an eye on your speed along the motorway because it creeps up easily. The A6 remains just as serene and well balanced at 70mph as it does at 30mph. The A6 comes with 'Drive Select' which allows the driver to fine-tune the accelerator and steering wheel responses.
The cabin also doesn’t disappoint and it’s a lot more stylish than the previous model, although some people may consider the understated design a little boring.
The wraparound dash encapsulates the driver, yet the interior still feels spacious. The fit and finish is typical Audi and everything feels well puttogether.
Leather upholstery comes as standard, as does satellite navigation, parking sensors and two-zone air-con.
The eight-inch pop-up control MMI touch screen slides neatly out of the dashboard and also comes as standard. As well as ultra-intelligent 3D navigation mapping, the new MMI Touch system can store audio tracks and telephone data on its hard disk.
I drove the A6 in SE trim but you may want to pay an extra £2,350 for the S line trim. For this you get a lowered, stiffened suspension, xenon headlights, LED rear lights, larger 18-inch alloy wheels, sports seats and bespoke front and rear bumpers.
The huge option list is mindboggling and includes cooled, massaging seats, TV reception and a head-up display. With the £1,500 optional Technology Package you get the ultimate wi-fi hotspot gadgetry, providing internet access for passengers on the move, and advanced Satellite Navigation Plus, which can download Google Earth images on to your route. This can also work out whether you are driving around town or along the motorway feeding data to the directional headlights.
You might want to take a second glance at the new A6 then, because even though things don’t appear to have changed much at face value it really does mean business underneath and that’s what will make it very attractive to company car buyers.
Audi A6 2.0 TDI SE
PRICE: from £30,145
ENGINE: 2.0-litre petrol unit developing 177bhp
TRANSMISSION: six-speed manual transmission, driving the front wheels
PERFORMANCE: maximum speed 141mph, 0-62mph 8.7 seconds
CO2 RATING: 129g/km