The latest Audi model to move into the vanguard of Vorsprung durch Technik is the A6 Saloon, which has been redesigned from the ground up with the benefit of the brand’s most advanced lightweight construction techniques, engine efficiency measures, chassis developments and in-car technological innovations.
With weight kept in check through aluminium and steel composite construction, despite enhanced equipment levels, the new A6 will not only deliver dynamically, but also in terms of efficiency, with 57mpg-plus economy potential and low CO2 outputs of as little as 129g/km. UK A6 orders will be possible from January 2011, and first deliveries will begin in the spring.
Aluminium and high-tech steels make up much of the completely reworked body of the new A6, the former accounting for around 20 per cent of the surface area, rendering it exceedingly light, rigid and safe. Combining the two materials reduces the shell weight by around 15 per cent, and enables the A6 2.0 TDI to tip the scales at a relatively modest 1,575kg – an impressive figure by class standards and one that works in favour of agility, economy and emissions control. State-of-the art design methods and materials ensure extremely low interior noise levels, while precision tuning of all components and systematic hydraulic damping in the axle and drivetrain bearings provides excellent refinement.
The range of four responsive and highly efficient engines available at launch in the UK will certainly not shatter this calm. The 2.0-litre TDI 175bhp, 3.0-litre TDI 201bhp, 3.0-litre TDI 242bhp and 3.0-litre TFSI 295bhp units all make use of advanced direct injection technology for the leanest possible fuel burn rate, and work in conjunction with important technologies from the brand’s modular efficiency platform – the start-stop system, the energy recovery system and the innovative thermal management concept. As a result, fuel economy has improved by up to 19 per cent compared to the previous model, pushing the A6 to the front of the class in this discipline. CO2 down to 129g/km The real headline maker in the range will be the 2.0-litre TDI allied to six-speed manual transmission, which despite its impressive output returns an impressive 57.7mpg according to the combined cycle test and emits just 129 g CO2 per km. The headlines of the not-too-distant future are likely to be claimed by the A6 hybrid, which by combining a 2.0-litre TFSI petrol engine with an electric motor will be capable of zero emission urban driving and up to 45.6mpg, yet will also have 242bhp on tap for strong performance.
As was the case with the previous model, the new Audi A6 will also be available with a wide range of drivetrains. The choice, based on the engine version, will include a manual six-speed transmission or continuously variable multitronic CVT for front-wheel-drive models, and the new seven-speed S tronic twin-clutch transmission for quattros. Each unit features a wide gear-ratio spread which makes a significant contribution to overall efficiency. The quattro permanent all-wheel drive system fitted to the new A6 Saloon is of course the latest incarnation, with a crown gear centre differential and a torque-vectoring function for the ultimate in traction, stability and dynamic response. For the top-of-the-line engines, the quattro sport differential that has already won acclaim in performance cars such as the S4 will also be offered as an option.New energy efficient electromechanical power steering, in conjunction with the lightweight suspension set-up with its considerable aluminium content, will impart even greater precision and composure in the new A6.
The standard fit Audi drive select adaptive dynamics system will allow drivers to fine-tune the car’s responses as desired via the MMI screen, and in front-wheel-drive models the latest Electronic Stability Programme with electronic limited slip differential will imperceptibly boost agility and subtly maintain order during challenging driving. Comfort has of course been equally highly prized in this executive class saloon. The now even more refined ride can, as before, cosset even more completely if the option of adaptive air suspension with controlled damping is chosen.
Economy-boosting aerodynamics In pursuit of exceptional refinement the body of the new A6, which measures 4.92 metres long, 1.87 metres wide and 1.46 metres high, has been sculpted to pierce cleanly through the air, a fact which its exceptional 0.26 Cd drag coefficient substantiates. Its low, sleek roofline also lends it a purposeful air which its optional LED headlights and LED daytime running lights emphasise further. The roomy interior with its cocooning ‘wraparound’ dash panel combines the latest Audi design language with the most salient technological advances and the finest materials constructed to the very highest of standards in time-honoured Audi fashion. Supportive seats upholstered as standard in Milano leather position occupants perfectly in relation to the cabin’s focal point, the Multi Media Interface with its 6.5-inch retractable monitor and large central control knob. MMI provides easy and intuitive access to the high quality audio system, the Bluetooth phone interface and the SD card-based navigation system – a much prized asset which, uniquely in the premium sector at this level, is standard in the A6. An 8-inch monitor and fingertip sensitive touch pad are available to upgrade MMI to MMI Touch. The system’s touch pad enables characters to be ‘drawn’ by the driver using an index finger for navigation or telephone data entry. As well as ultra-intelligent 3D navigation mapping, the new MMI Touch system can store audio tracks and telephone data on its sizeable hard disk. Navigation with Google Earth mapping Online services including news and weather information supplied by Google will also be accessible if the Mobile Telephone Preparation High option is specified. This option will enable drivers to plot detailed routes on a home computer and download them to the navigation system when they start a trip. Google Earth images will also be beamed via the car’s internal UMTS module to the MMI monitor for navigation purposes. Through its wireless local area network link passengers will also be able to connect to the internet using their own computers. MMI navigation plus will be able to work closely with the optional assistance and safety systems in the new A6. It can forward route data to the control units for the headlights, the automatic transmission and the adaptive cruise control with stop & go function. This will enable these systems to recognise complex scenarios and assist the driver.
The Audi pre-sense basic system first seen in the new A8 will also provide further safety back-up by analysing the information from the ESP sensors and intervening to activate the hazard warning lights, close the side windows and sunroof and tension the seatbelts when maximum brake application or skidding is detected. The pre-sense system is expandable in various stages: the full version brakes the car automatically in order to minimise the consequences of a nose-to-tail collision. The list of optional driver aids will also include a night vision assistant employing a thermal imaging camera to highlight ‘warm-blooded’ road users in front of the car, a head-up display projecting key information onto the windscreen so that it appears to float about 2.5 metres ahead and a park assist system which automatically takes care of the steering function for the driver when manoeuvring into parallel or perpendicular parking spaces. More familiar options such as the Audi side assist blind spot warning system and the Audi lane assist lane departure detection system will also be available.
Two specification levels – SE and S line – will be offered in the UK, each including alloy wheels, leather upholstery, cruise and front and rear parking controls, SD-based satellite navigation, Bluetooth phone preparation, split/folding rear seats and light and rain sensors. S line models will add larger 18-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlamps with LED daytime running lamps, sports suspension, upgraded Valcona leather upholstery and an exclusive S line exterior and interior styling treatment. From the options list customers will be able to choose features such as comfort seats with heating, cooling and massaging functions, acoustic glazing, supple leather trimming for the centre console, a 15-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system with 1,200 watts of power, TV reception and various connectivity upgrades for the MMI system.