Audi A6


Debut: 2011
Maker: Audi
Predecessor: A6 (2004)



 Published on 12 Feb 2011
All rights reserved. 


The progress of Audi A6 (as well as Audi itself) in the past decade and a half was really amazing. I remember how difficult its predecessor, Audi 100, lived under the shadow of Mercedes E-class and BMW 5-series. Things started changing since 1997 when the first all-new A6 was launched. Its elegant styling and high build quality lured customers from its counterparts and established a strong reputation for Audi. The next generation from 2004 not only raised this standard further, but also brought stronger performance and handling. Today, the Audi is no longer seen as an inferior alternative to its German rivals, but a stronger statement of your taste and pursuit of quality. In terms of global sales, it even outsells its arch-rivals and tops the class, thanks partly to its strong penetration into China.

That said, what the previous A6 still failed to do was to match its rivals, especially BMW 5-series, for dynamic finesse. Its handling was still hampered by its inherent nose-heavy construction (blame that Quattro and longitudinal engine), which also compromised its steering and ride quality. We would like to see if Audi can sort out these problems in the new generation A6 and satisfy keen drivers finally. Only in this way, it could win the hearts of our readers.



Before coming to its driving, let's get a briefing on the car first. Unquestionably, the new A6 has many aspects improved over its predecessor, but that does not include one thing – styling. Compare with the last two generations the new car is conservatively styled. While it still sports many elegant details, the overall proportion and features are rather conservative, a sharp contrast to our recent favourite designs, Jaguar XF and XJ. The once forward-thinking design theme of Audi has been sacrificed for the need to please wider audience, including conservatives like Chinese. That is really sad. It seems that Audi has exchanged its traditional approach with Mercedes-Benz, which is going radical these days. Who is right ? we shall see soon…

As we have mentioned before, the new A6 is a close sister of A7. Both cars share not only the MLP platform (as does A8) but also the same size, much of the chassis construction and interior. A close look to its cabin will find the same dashboard, center console and steering wheel, if not the same door panels. Such sharing enables it to employ classy materials without pushing the cost too much.

The new body is slightly wider and lower than the outgoing car, but its overall length remains unchanged. Because the MLP platform has the front axle moved before the clutch, it enables a longer wheelbase (2912 mm instead of 2843 mm), hence slightly better weight distribution and more interior space. Aerodynamics is very good. Drag coefficient is only 0.26, thanks to the use of smooth underfloor panels and spoilers.



As in A7, the chassis is made of largely steel but also some aluminum components to cut weight. Audi did not opt for its ASF aluminum spaceframe technology because that would be too costly for the class, unlike the more expensive A8. Just as BMW 5-series found out, by selective use of aluminum components there is still room for weight saving. In the new A6, aluminum comprises of 20 percent of the body-in-white by weight. These include the pressed aluminum bonnet, front fenders, doors and boot lid, the cast aluminum suspension strut domes and suspension components, as well as extruded aluminum front bumper beam and cross member behind the dashboard. Its use of aluminum is even more extensive than BMW 5-series, no wonder the A6 has its weight so well controlled. For instance, an A6 3.0TDI Quattro weighs exactly the same as BMW 530d, even though it is loaded with the additional 4WD hardware.

The suspension system has little surprise: 5-link front suspensions and trapezoidal 4-link rear suspensions are the tradition of Audi. Their anti-dive geometry suits the nose-heavy car, so there is no reason to abandon them. Also like the previous car, all control arms are casted in aluminum to keep unsprung weight low. What's new are electronic adaptive damping and air suspensions with 3 ride height settings. They are listed as cost options so that not to blunt sales of the bread-and-butter models. Motoring journalists, however, are offered with the fully optioned cars for test drive, so they would tend to give more favorable comments. These cars also include the optional Sport Differential (an active rear differential instead of the standard car's brake-actuating torque vectoring), active steering and Audi Select Drive. The latter is a control system which provides 3 modes (auto, comfort and dynamic) to alter suspension, transmission, steering, throttle, ESP etc. Furthermore, there is another mode for the driver to customize individual settings to his taste. Quattro models employ the latest crown-gear Torsen center differential to split torque 40:60 front to rear. In short, everything is just the same as in A7.



The same can be said to powertrains. With the exception of 2.0 TDI (177hp), all engines are shared with its sister car A7. These include 2.8 FSI Valvelift V6 (204hp), 3.0 TDI V6 (204hp or 245hp) and 3.0 TFSI supercharged V6 (299hp). They offer competitive performance and outstanding fuel economy and emission, thanks to the use of direct injection, auto stop-start and brake energy regeneration.

The choices for transmission include 6-speed manual, Multitronic CVT and 7-speed S-Tronic twin-clutch. The latter is mandatory on the range-topping 3.0 TFSI and 245hp 3.0 TDI. By the way, Quattro is also standard on the duo.

Having gone through the technical aspect, we shall return to our question: is the new A6 as good to drive as its key rivals, namely BMW 5-series, Mercedes E and Jaguar XF ?
 
In some aspect yes, and in others no. In terms of performance and powertrain, the A6 is quite competitive. Most of its engines are refined, torquey and flexible, especially the excellent supercharged petrol V6 – just as you would expect from previous reading. The 245hp 3.0 TDI is good, too. Save a little roughness at startup, it is perfectly refined. Our only disappointment concerns the 170hp 2.0 TDI engine, which is no where as strong as the 204hp Mercedes 250CDI twin-turbo engine. And you know, these are the best selling engines in the class. Less problematic is the lack of a really powerful twin-turbo diesel V6 to rival BMW 535d and Jaguar XF 3.0D 275hp, because from sales figures we know such engines are never big sellers. What it might affect is more psychological, i.e. leaving a superior performance image to its rivals. And what about the lack of a V8 engine ? Don't worry, on the pipeline there is an S6 with twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8.



Audi's 7-speed S-Tronic transmission is a good twin-clutch automated manual gearbox. However, for ultimate smoothness it is still no match with the torque-converter automatic transmissions on its rivals, especially the ZF 8-speed unit on BMW and ZF 6-speeder on Jaguar. Twin-clutch box might be fine on the A5 / S5, but it feels a little out of place in a luxury executive car.

On motorway, the A6 displays impressive refinement. Its cabin is superbly insulated from wind, engine and road noise. The ride is compliant, even on standard suspensions with steel springs, though body control is predictably not as good as its rear-drive rivals due to the nose-mounted engine. Choose the S-Line version, which comes with stiffer suspensions and low-profile 245/45ZR18 tires, you will find much better body control, accompany with impressive grip and endless Quattro traction. Opt for the active differential and you will be amazed how precise its nose points. In this configuration, the A6 is almost a driver's car.

Nevertheless, those enjoy pushing their cars to the limit may find the A6 not satisfying enough. The artificial-feeling electric power steering is one reason. It makes the car difficult to engage the driver, no matter how hard it corners. Another reason is the lack of agility. This is especially obvious on the 3.0 TDI, whose weighty diesel V6 makes the car less agile than the better balanced BMW 530d and Jaguar XF 3.0D. It goes without saying that the front-drive 2.0 TDI is even less satisfying to keen drivers.

The optimal choice is of course the 3.0 TFSI Quattro S-Line with Sport Differential, but it has its faults, too – a very firm ride that suits German highway more than anywhere else. This makes it a nightmare to those regularly ride on B-roads or concrete pavement. You might think air suspensions could be an answer. Yes, it does help to certain extent, but it also softens the steering response, thus it is not a good idea to keen drivers. No matter in what configurations, the A6 fails to deliver a ride and handling combo as good as its rear-drive rivals. Once again, this is attributed to its non-ideal drivetrain layout.



One area the Audi does beat its rivals is the interior. Although from design point of view it is not as inspiring as Jaguar's, it is still comfortably more tasteful than those of 5-series and E-class. In terms of materials and build quality, the Audi has lifted the bar again. Everything looks rich and impeccably assembled, clearly a class above its rivals. In fact, it feels nearly as classy as the A8 ! Besides, provided you can afford, you can have tons of gadgets, such as MMI multimedia control, DVD TV entertainment system, head-up display, Google Earth navigation, B&O HiFi, multi-zone climate control and electric door closing. Safety features include Pre-sense active safety system, active lane keeping assist, automatic parking, Night Vision thermal camera… all sorts of things you can found on the A8. The cabin of A6 is spacious and airy. The boot is generous, too.

For sure, the build quality will continue to be a strong selling point of the car. That said, to those putting driving dynamics on top priority, the A6 still trails BMW 5-series and Jaguar XF. To those pursuing ultimate comfort, Mercedes E-class still seems to be a better bet. However, taking all things into account, the Audi is unquestionably a strong contender in the class and the one you have to consider.
Verdict: 
 Published on 28 Apr 2012 All rights reserved. 
Audi S6


In the past decade, the power war among German premium car makers became so intense that they built some of the most dramatic powertrains ever appeared on production cars. BMW introduced a high-revving V10 on its E60 M5; Mercedes-AMG resurrected its "6.3" nameplate on its performance E-class; Audi was even madder, producing a pair of sports saloons with a Lamborghini-derived V10, i.e. the naturally aspirated S6 and the biturbo RS6. These cars pushed the power war to the peak.

Very much like the "muscle car" era running in the 1960s, that kind of pursuit of gigantic power is not sustainable. Following the effective of stricter CO2 legislations, the German have to rationalize their offerings and seek more sensible solutions. Any engines with more than 8 cylinders have to be axed – the new M5 was the first to switch to twin-turbo V8, and now Audi is doing the same thing to its S6. Bye-bye to the characterful 5.2-liter V10, welcome a new 4-liter twin-turbo V8. Finance guys at Volkswagen group will be delighted to hear that the new engine is going to have a much higher production volume. It will serve not only the S6 and RS6 but also S8 and Bentley Continental GT – both of which we have reviewed recently – and hopefully more cars in the future. It makes sense to the environment. It makes even more sense to VAG's balance sheet.



So how is the new engine? As we already know, it features "reversed breathing", cross-bank turbocharging and a pair of twin-scroll turbos to achieve a lag-free power delivery. Its direct injection, auto stop-start, brake energy regeneration and cylinder deactivation (which shuts down 4 cylinders under light load) contribute to a fuel saving of 25 percent over the outgoing V10. So you guess it must be a fabulous engine? Not necessarily. While we gave positive comments to the engines on Audi S8 and Bentley Continental GT V8, this particular version is more disappointing. It behaves too civilized. Its noise is so subdued that it doesn't sound like a performance engine. Its maximum output is deliberately detuned to 420 hp in order to leave space for the forthcoming RS6. This mean it is a full 100 horsepower down from the S8 ! As a result, its top end delivery is flat, failing to thrill you like its sister engines. This is all the more bitter as you know what it could have been capable of.



The rest of the package has a similar problem. Although it is equipped with all the high-tech mechanicals you can dream of, say, 40:60 Quattro system, torque vectoring active rear differential, Audi drive select control system, 7-speed S-Tronic DCT, adaptive air suspensions, a 10 mm lower ride height, fat rubbers and optional ceramic brakes, the S6's handling never feels really sharp and agile. Handicapped by its 1.9-ton weight and a relatively soft suspension setting, it feels bulky to steer and a bit clumsy on difficult roads. Its steering lacks real feedback from the tarmac no matter in which setting. Its gearbox does not respond to your requests as quickly as you would expect. As a whole, the S6 feels hopelessly soft and cultured beside an M5, AMG or Panamera. On the positive side, you can still find the traditional merits of Audi – excellent traction and grip, good high-speed stability and cruising refinement.

Make no mistake, the S6 does not intend to be the ultimate sports saloon. That task will be taken by RS6, whose sportier setup and highly tuned engine might result in a different story. Unfortunately, this leaves the S6 in an embarrassing position – it is neither as comfortable as the regular A6 or BMW 550i, nor as thrilling to drive as M5 or E63 AMG.
Verdict:
 Published on 15 Apr 2013 All rights reserved. 
Audi RS6 Avant


11 years ago, the first generation RS6 introduced a twin-turbo 4.2-liter V8 to produce a class-leading 450 horsepower. Mercedes and BMW immediately responded with the 476 hp E55 AMG and 507 hp M5. Since then German performance saloons entered a war of power. To overwhelm its rivals, the next generation RS6 borrowed the 5-liter V10 from Lamborghini Gallardo and turbocharged it to pump out 580 horsepower, guaranteeing to be unbeatable during its whole life. The war is slightly dampened in the recent couple of years as the German have been adjusting their strategies to meet the stringent demand for CO2 reduction. BMW and Mercedes turned to downsized turbocharged V8s. Audi followed suit with a new 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 for its S6, S7 and S8. Now a higher tuned version of the same motor powers the new RS6.

Downsizing from 5-liter V10 to 4-liter V8 is a sensible step to improve the RS6. One should remember that the outgoing car, despite of its superior numbers, was hampered by a nose-heavy handling and a hefty price tag thus was never a commercial success. Now switching to the smaller V8 allows it to lighten its nose, while the larger economy of scale should cut cost. The question is, can it deliver the same power?

The answer is no, but not far away. The new motor produces 560 hp, 20 down on its predecessor and 25 less than the current class leader, Mercedes E63 AMG S. However, its maximum torque of 516 lbft is 37 lbft stronger than before, although its torque band (1750-5500 rpm) is slightly narrower than the old car (1500-6250 rpm) as well as BMW M5 (1500-5750 rpm). From these figures you can see its turbos kick off at slightly higher rev, because it needs larger turbos to produce some 1.2 bar of boost pressure (a far cry from the V10's 0.7 bar). Fortunately, the inverse-breathing architecture of this V8 enables it to employ twin-scroll turbos thus greatly reduces turbo lag. Moreover, the V8 is also able to cut fuel consumption by a massive 40 percent, thanks partly to the implementation of cylinder on demand (COD) technology, which utilizes the "Valvelift" mechanism to shut down 4 cylinders under light load.


In the real world, you would find the new engine just as smooth, powerful and elastic as the V10. There might be a touch more turbo lag, but it is still a very responsive powerplant by turbocharging standard. Likewise, the exhaust note might be not quite as exciting as the V10's, but it is still worth praising. Paired with the ZF 8-speed automatic gearbox, the RS6 provides a relentless performance. Partly thanks to its weight reduction of 90 kg, partly thanks to the availability of launch control, it is capable to cut 0-60 mph from 4.4 to an astonishing 3.8 seconds – well, not quite in the league of E63 AMG S 4matic, but it beats an M5 by a decisive 0.4 second! As for top speed, you may opt for dynamic package to raise its speed regulation to 190 mph. What a performance saloon… no, it is in fact an estate!

The RS6 abandons the S6's 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox because the latter is not strong enough to withstand its tremendous torque. If not, I suppose the DCT should be a better option. As good as the ZF 8-speed automatic is, it is still not as responsive as a proper DCT owing to the time taken for its torque converter to engage. This mean BMW M5 has a slight advantage in the eyes of keen drivers. However, for a luxury performance saloon/estate like this, automatic might be more appealing to most customers, as AMG found out long ago.

More controversial is the lack of saloon body. Following the smaller RS4, the RS6 is available only in the form of Avant because in the past few Audi drivers opted for the saloon versions of RS models. The Avant body might benefit weight distribution a bit, but I suppose the image it gives us is more multi-purpose than purposeful. Even though there are sufficient styling tweaks made to differ it from lesser A6 or S6 Avant, it still doesn't look as convincing as a saloon can be.


The RS6's standard air suspension is set 20 mm lower than that of the S6. If that is not sporty enough, you may opt for the DRC (Dynamic Ride Control) suspension, which is so familiar to the drivers of RS4 and RS5. It uses steel springs and adaptive dampers instead of air struts. The dampers are linked hydraulically between diagonal wheels to control pitch and roll in hard cornering. Other goodies are also shared with RS4 and RS5, such as the 40:60 Quattro system, Audi Drive Select system, computer-controlled variable-ratio steering, torque-vectoring braking and a pair of performance options – ceramic brakes and active rear differential. If you equip all these things, you would find the RS6 edges closer to the top of the class again. The combined effect of active differential and lighter engine means the new car no longer understeers heavily. You are still aware that the engine is hanging beyond the front axle, but the sense is much reduced now because the car dips little when braking into corner and it turns in more eagerly. Understeer is no longer its basic instinct. It still doesn't power slide like a rear-driver, but frankly for a car so large and powerful oversteer is no longer realistic to play on public roads. On the contrary, most drivers will appreciate its immense traction and grip, and the general feeling that its fine handling is indestructible by any roads, any surfaces.

Unfortunately, the Achilles' heel of Audi is again steering feel, or the lack of it. The dynamic mode of Audi Drive Select might increase speed and weight, but it does nothing to improve the video-game feedback. As a result, the driver feels isolated from the road. Many electrical racks have similar problems, but none of its rivals suffer as much, probably because of its permanent 4WD system. As a result, the RS6 still fails to match the more involving E63 AMG S 4matic, M5 and XFR in the performance executive car class.
Verdict:
Specifications





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires
Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
A6 2.8 FSI
2011
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Steel + aluminum
4915 / 1874 / 1455 mm
2912 mm
V6, 90-degree
2773 cc
DOHC 24 valves, VVT, VVL
VIM
DI
204 hp
206 lbft
CVT with 8-spd manual mode
F: 5-link
R: multi-link
-
225/55R17
1610 kg
149 mph (c)
7.3 (c)
-
A6 3.0TDI Quattro
2011
Front-engined, 4WD
Steel monocoque
Steel + aluminum
4915 / 1874 / 1455 mm
2912 mm
V6, 90-degree, diesel
2967 cc
DOHC 24 valves
VTG turbo
CDI
245 hp
369 lbft
7-speed twin-clutch
F: 5-link
R: multi-link
-
225/55R17
1720 kg
155 mph (limited)
5.8 (c)
-
A6 3.0TFSI Quattro
2011
Front-engined, 4WD
Steel monocoque
Steel + aluminum
4915 / 1874 / 1455 mm
2912 mm
V6, 90-degree
2995 cc
DOHC 24 valves, VVT
Supercharger
DI
299 hp
324 lbft
7-speed twin-clutch
F: 5-link
R: multi-link
Adaptive air spring + damping
245/45ZR18
1740 kg
155 mph (limited)
5.2 (c)
-




Performance tested by: -





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power

Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires
Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)

0-100 mph (sec)
A6 3.0TFSI Quattro (US)
2011
Front-engined, 4WD
Steel monocoque
Steel + aluminum
4915 / 1874 / 1455 mm
2912 mm
V6, 90-degree
2995 cc
DOHC 24 valves, VVT
Supercharger
DI
310 hp

325 lbft
8-speed automatic
F: 5-link
R: multi-link
-
245/40ZR19
1835 kg
130 mph (limited)
5.3 (c) / 5.4* / 5.6*

13.4* / 13.7*
S6
2012 (2014)
Front-engined, 4WD
Steel monocoque
Steel + aluminum
4931 / 1874 / 1440 mm
2916 mm
V8, 90-degree
3993 cc
DOHC 32 valves, DVVT
Twin-turbo
DI, cylinder deactivation
420 hp / 5500-6400 rpm
(450 hp / 5800-6400 rpm)
406 lbft / 1450-5250 rpm
7-speed twin-clutch
F: 5-link
R: multi-link
Adaptive air spring + damping
255/40ZR19
1895 kg
155 mph (limited)
4.6 (c) / 3.7*
(4.2 (c) / 3.9* / 3.8***)
9.2* (9.8* / 9.9***)
RS6 Avant
2013
Front-engined, 4WD
Steel monocoque
Steel + aluminum
4979 / 1936 / 1461 mm
2915 mm
V8, 90-degree
3993 cc
DOHC 32 valves, DVVT
Twin-turbo
DI, cylinder deactivation
560 hp / 5700-6700 rpm

516 lbft / 1750-5500 rpm
8-speed automatic
F: 5-link
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping
275/35ZR20
1935 kg
190 mph (limited)
3.8 (c) / 3.7**

8.7**




Performance tested by: *C&D, **Autocar, ***MT





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires
Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
RS6 Avant Performance
2016
Front-engined, 4WD
Steel monocoque
Steel + aluminum
4979 / 1936 / 1461 mm
2915 mm
V8, 90-degree
3993 cc
DOHC 32 valves, DVVT
Twin-turbo
DI, cylinder deactivation
605 hp / 6100-6800 rpm
553 lbft / 2500-5500 rpm
8-speed automatic
F: 5-link
R: multi-link
Adaptive damping
285/30ZR21
1950 kg
190 mph (limited)
3.6 (c)
-


















































Performance tested by: -





AutoZine Rating

A6


S6

RS6


    Copyright© 1997-2016 by Mark Wan @ AutoZine