Why the A8 is no longer necessary
Our thoughts on the new Audi A6
Given the high tech surroundings of the A6, presiding over a magnificently capable machine that combines the right amount of presence, brand value, performance, and size, I can only think about what the Volkswagen group has in stock, and how difficult it must be for them to position their products.
For the past few years, we must all admit that Audi interiors are among, if not the best in the luxury segment. They are so good in ergonomic disposition as well as sheer fit and finish, that choosing between Mercedes, BMW, and Audi (not Lexus for they tend to lean towards boring with a shade of nerdy-tech) becomes a matter of taste as there’s so little to choose between them?
And why this is? I can only assume this is what happens when engineers are hardly ever invited to the marketers’ meetings and are just told what to do. Let’s face it, Audi needs to be significantly better in supposed quality than VW, cannot be as sporty as Porsche, and dare not go up in luxury to touch Bentley, for fear of rubbing shoulders with opulent sister company, Bentley.
“But, ah!”, I hear you say, “Bentley is much bigger and more expensive than the A6”. Yes, this is true, but alas not that different to the A8, the flagship of the Ingolstadt factory. And the difficulty with the A6 is to make it good enough but not as good as the A8, which is also very good but cannot be as good as the Bentley Continental. It’s a vicious circle.
Hence, the A6 appears to be the result of focus groups, committee meetings, and spreadsheets that list the features on the A4, the A8, and the mix n’ match tic-tac-toe that determines what the product must be to become aspirational for the A4 budget and disappointing for the A8 mogul. Essentially, and thanks to the advancements in robotics, supply chain automation, and just-in-time logistics, it’s a market filler.
However, it’s our duty to review objectively how the car is, feels and performs, and in that, the A6 excels.
The Driving Experience
It’s fabulous from every angle, and competent in any activity. Comfy, luxurious and, I really can’t state this enough, boasts a superb audio system courtesy of your wallet and Bang & Olufsen.
Remember that cars like the A6 are not meant to make your heart beat like an R8: stability over agility, safety over thrill, and comfort over feel are the modus operandi. As a matter of fact, the ride is just plain incredible in terms of comfort; it’s quiet, soft. It’s like being in a womb, [albeit one] pampered by leather and seat massagers. Furthermore, the combination of supermodern suspensions, noise insulation, chassis rigidity, an excellent 8-speed gearbox give me the feel of true control and peace of mind.
This new Audi A6 is not that fun to drive because she is a duchess. She is very politically correct. As a matter of facts, she speaks proper German, she can only dance the Waltz, at a good rhythm, but she will sit on her sofa when Rock n Roll is playing. She is great company for long marathons in the top class. Her muscles are strong but she is a touch heavy (1,935kg kerb weight claimed) for twists and turns. She can easily drive 1000 km per day without breaking a sweat but her steering is a bit numb and not overly direct, mainly because she doesn’t want your hands to shake under pressure. Her turning in the corners is secure, very predictable but she takes her time and she doesn’t particularly care to be hurried. Mid-corner she is very balanced, as expected, and strong, but if you insist on playing fast and loose with the throttle, you’ll only ever be met with understeer. You can’t reasonably expect a duchess to stick her rear end out.
The tail is passive. It assures immense traction due to the four-wheel drive system but it’s not a department of the car that gives any thrill. It simply follows the front end with untouched loyalty. Brakes are the highest standard you can ask for; the feel on the pedal is very reliable, it’s firm and gentle at the same time and, when necessary, it will stop the A6 with incredible authority, as one would expect of German anti-lock braking.
The 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 engine of this version does the job with elegance. We are very spoiled these days and 335bhp don’t sound a lot but a healthy 369lb-ft of torque starting from 1,370 rpm helps to deliver the power exquisitely. There is no turbo lag and the power distribution curve is very flat which means that the power is available equally at any engine regime. Audi claims it reaches 100kph in 5.1 seconds.
As said, this is no RS6, in fact, it’s a tremendous and more-than-enough dynamic machine for the everyday drive, that prefers to use its power in a controlled manner. It doesn’t really matter what set up you decide to switch to on your onboard computer. This car needs to live in Comfort Mode to give her best. Is it worth it an A8? Not sure. The new A8 must be some marvel to partially obscure this smaller sister. We think the new A8 maybe engineered to give her best even when your chauffeur is driving and you are comfortably escorted to your meeting in Geneva. Audi is well known for being drivers cars, hence we’d conclude saying that this new A6 is possibly the best dynamic solution for whoever wants the luxury of an A8 but plans to always drive it. We will soon find out