The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 3.9
The Audi A6 is an excellent executive car – supremely refined, very spacious and available with some really economical engines that make it very appealing to company car drivers. True, it’s not the most engaging car to drive, but it has more than enough qualities to earn it a place on any executive’s shortlist.
Reasons to buy
- Impressively quiet and refined
- Well equipped as standard
- Excellent economy/emissions from ultra engine
At a glance
- How good does it look? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- What's the interior like? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How practical is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- What's it like to drive? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How powerful is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How much will it cost me? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How reliable is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How safe is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How much equipment do I get? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- Why buy? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
How good does it look?
The A6 is a terrifically smart, but subtle and understated, executive car, with a streamlined shape. With the headlight units incorporating the foglights, there’s no need for separate lights, leaving a very clean front end, while the daytime running lights and rear lights are LED units. Go for S line trim and above, and you also get LED headlights and ‘sweeping’ rear indicators, where the lights don’t just flash, they appear to ‘run’ across the car. Every A6 comes with alloy wheels, body-colour door mirrors and handles, and plenty of smart aluminium trim, while S line models sit on lower suspension (although you can have standard suspension at no extra charge) and have a unique, sporty bodykit. Black Edition models – as the name suggests – have their own look, with tinted rear windows and much of the chrome replaced by black features, while the high-performance S6 models are differentiated by a bespoke twin-spoke grille design, black painted brake calipers and quad exhaust tail-pipes.
What's the interior like?
Audi has become known for the quality of its interiors, and the A6 is a perfect example of why. The materials used, and the fit and finish, are as good as the very best, even in the ‘basic’ SE models. And, if you upgrade to S line trim, you get a leather sports steering wheel and sports seats, as well as smart aluminium inlays. Black Edition cars are much the same, but with black – rather than aluminium – inlays, while the S6 has its own unique look. Common to all, though, is a cabin that’s as easy to use as it is to admire, and the wide range of adjustment on the seat and steering wheel mean that pretty much anyone is guaranteed an excellent driving position. One possible drawback is that the MMI system that controls the infotainment system isn’t quite as good as BMW’s iDrive, but you can get used to its idiosyncrasies pretty quickly.
How practical is it?
The interior of the A6 is spacious enough for four adults to travel long distances in comfort, with excellent leg-, head- and shoulder room. Its 530-litre boot is large and compares well to its rivals’ – larger than the BMW 5 Series’s luggage compartment, and only slightly smaller than the Mercedes E-Class’s. It is hampered a little by a small opening, but unlike some executive saloons, split/folding rear seats are fitted as standard.
What's it like to drive?
With the notable exception of the S6, the A6 is not an executive car that labours under the mistaken belief that it’s a sports car. Instead, it concentrates on providing a refined and comfortable drive – and, as long as you avoid the larger wheels and sportier suspension set-ups, the car does a pretty decent job. Its most impressive aspect is its refinement – much helped by the double glazing on the windscreen and front windows – and, in keeping with that, the car is at its best over long distances on major roads, rather than along the twists and turns of a country B-road. So far, we’ve only had relatively limited experience of the latest A6 in the UK, but we found the Quattro models were better to drive than the Ultra models – and there’s more to it than just the extra grip and traction on the four-wheel drive models that make them feel more sure-footed. Overall, they’re also more composed, with a smoother ride and better-controlled movement in the suspension. However, the Ultra models aren’t so bad that you wouldn’t be prepared to put up with their shortcomings for the excellent economy they provide. Truth is, though, that – good as it is – the A6 isn’t quite as good to drive as the BMW 5 Series, with steering that’s a little too light and handling that lacks the ultimate crispness of the Five.
How powerful is it?
All mainstream A6s come with a diesel engine, and all give very acceptable performance – even the ultra models that concentrate on excellent economy and low emissions. With peak pull coming in at below 2,000rpm, they respond very well, and you’d never know the 2.0-litre engine was optimised for economy – especially when it has enough power to set the front wheels squirming if you floor the accelerator on a greasy road. Beyond this basic engine, things get much quicker, but rather than the outright pace, what impresses you is just how little effort you have to put in to get the car going very quickly. In all honesty, you don’t really need to look beyond the 2.0-litre engine unless you want four-wheel drive, but both versions of the 3.0 TDI engine give very strong performance, and the bi-turbo 3.0 BiTDI is seriously quick.
How much will it cost me?
Given the performance they provide, all the A6’s engines return very good fuel economy. The star, though, is the 2.0 TDI ultra, which (when paired with the S tronic semi-automatic transmission and 17-inch wheels) averages a barely credible 67.3mpg and emits just 109g/km of CO2. But, even the 3.0 BiTDI – which gets the A6 to 60mph in 5.0 seconds – averages a very respectable 47.1mpg. The result is that the A6 looks very attractive as a company car. Insurance costs are also at least as low as on any directly comparable rival, and it’s the same story with residual values: the desirability of the Audi badge ensures that the A6 only loses its value as slowly as its rivals.
How reliable is it?
Audi may have a reputation for high quality, but that’s not necessarily borne out by the evidence. In fact, the company sits low down in Warranty Direct’s Reliability Index, while previous versions of the A6 are well below average for reliability, with repairs being particularly costly. On the other hand, if you scan through the reviews from owners of the most recent A6 on this website, they report excellent reliability.
How safe is it?
This latest A6 hasn’t been tested by Euro NCAP, but the 2011 model (which is based on a very similar structure to this model) earned the maximum five-star rating when it was tested. Standard equipment across the range includes six airbags, stability control and Isofix mounts on four seats, and there are plenty of options beyond that. For instance, you can specify rear side airbags, the Pre-sense system (which warns the driver in advance of potential dangers), a Night Vision Assistant and a Head-up display, while the advanced technology pack incudes adaptive cruise control, a lane departure warning system and a blind spot warning system.
How much equipment do I get?
The A6 is offered in SE, S line and Black Edition trim levels, and every model comes with alloy wheels, sat-nav, DAB radio, cruise control, park assist and auto headlights and wipers, as well as four-zone climate control and leather upholstery. Beyond that, the extras on S line and Black Edition models are primarily style-based, and you can choose from a whole host of options that include everything from style to technology and the suspension, many of which are available in affordable packages.
The Audi A6 puts ticks in almost all of the most important boxes for executive car buyers. It looks the business, is extremely spacious and comes well equipped, but above all its economical and refined engines make for very affordable running costs for company car drivers.