Smarter both aesthetically and technically, the new Audi A6 range makes its international debut this week, underpinning enhancements to visual appeal, refinement, convenience electronics and equipment with improvements in fuel economy and emissions control averaging 12 per cent courtesy of new or updated engines. Priced from £24,800 OTR for the new economy-targeting 2.0 TDIe model, delivering in excess of 53mpg with 139g/km of CO2, the range is available to order now and will reach its first UK customers in October.
At the same time, the eagerly awaited Saloon version of the potent ten-cylinder RS 6, which like the A6 allroad quattro and S6 line-ups incorporates many of the new enhancements, moves to the head of the range priced at £76,160 OTR. Its Avant counterpart, like all Avant versions, carries a premium of £1,570.
Two all-new engines in particular will be among the headline-makers in the latest range – a 3.0-litre TFSI petrol unit which makes its debut here to effectively replace both the 3.2 FSI V6 and the 4.2 V8, and the advanced 2.0-litre TDI with common rail piezo fuel injection, whose impressive frugality makes the new A6 TDIe model possible. This 136PS diesel unit replaces the 2.0-litre pump jet injection engine with 140PS, and later in 2008 will also become available in the A6 in 170PS form.
Supercharging returns in V6 TFSI
In contrast to the familiar turbo charged Audi TFSI engines, the new V6 TFSI uses supercharging to elicit even more instantaneous response coupled with excellent economy. Audi is no stranger to this alternative method of forced induction – Auto Union models bearing the four rings were employing it during the 1930s.
The new 3.0 TFSI delivers an impressive 290PS at just under 5,000rpm, and its equally creditable 420Nm torque peak – remarkably close to the 440Nm output of the 4.2 V8 – is available from 2,500rpm through to 4,850rpm. With tiptronic automatic transmission smoothly feeding in the plentiful power, and the latest quattro system that is now either standard or optional for A6 V6 models distributing it 40% to 60% in favour of the rear wheels, the new A6 3.0 TFSI quattro powers to 62mph in just 5.9 seconds. Top speed – as is the norm for the majority of high performance Audi models – is restricted electronically to 155mph.
Equally importantly, the fact that FSI technology permits fuel injection into the combustion chamber in more precise measures than ever before guarantees outstanding economy, the 3.0 TFSI making up to 30 mpg possible according to the combined cycle test. Its 219g/km CO2 output is a 15 per cent improvement over the 3.2-litre V6 quattro model.
The latest direct injection technology is also at the heart of the new 2.0-litre, 136PS TDI engine. Optimised through the use of advanced piezo injectors, the common rail system not only contributes significantly to major improvements in performance, fuel economy and emissions, but also has a dramatic effect on running refinement.
Economy-focused new TDIe model
By modifying transmission ratios, employing a power steering pump which operates only on demand and an alternator capable of regenerating energy during coasting, the A6 2.0 TDI is able to earn the economy-focused ‘e’ designation seen first in the A3 1.9 TDIe. Special aerodynamic modifications and a 20mm reduction in ride height also further the cause by helping the A6 to slip through the air with an impressively low drag coefficient of 0.28. Despite the 53.3mpg and 139g/km these modifications make possible, the A6 2.0 TDIe with six-speed manual transmission is on the pace, its 320Nm torque maximum arriving at 1,750rpm to propel it to 62mph from rest in 10.3 seconds and on to a top speed of 129mph.
The two new engines are offered as even more efficient replacements for four outgoing units – the 2.4-litre V6, the 3.2-litre FSI V6, the 4.2-litre FSI V8 and the pump jet-injected 2.0-litre TDI. The restructured petrol engine range, the existing members of which have undergone modifications to further reduce CO2 output, starts with the 170PS 2.0-litre TFSI, followed by the 220PS, 2.8-litre FSI V6 with Audi valvelift technology and the new 290PS 3.0-litre TFSI. The two V6 TDI units which share the new four cylinder’s sophisticated common rail injection – the 190PS 2.7-litre TDI and 240PS 3.0-litre TDI – are latest generation versions of these engines which have also been re-engineered in the interest of efficiency. Progress has also been made in the S quattro series – economy and emissions from the 435PS V10 powering the S6 have also improved.
Power transmission for the new range is, as before, taken care of by six-speed manual, six-speed tiptronic automatic and economy-maximising seven-speed multitronic CVT automatic transmissions.
The achievement of even smoother, quicker and cleaner progress in the new A6 range has also been aided by extensive modifications to the standard suspension, key among these being optimised spring settings and the addition of new large-diameter front shock absorbers operating within a revised valve system. An update of the quattro all-wheel-drive system to the latest generation 40%/60% rear biased version also brings greater agility. Adaptive air suspension continues to be offered as an option, a specially reconfigured version of which gives the A6 allroad quattro its impressive all-terrain ability.
These very beneficial advances are enveloped by a subtly updated body featuring, at the front, revisions to the single frame grille, the bumpers, the air intakes and the fog lights, and at the rear a re-sculpted saloon boot lid, redesigned tail lights and detail changes including a new rear diffuser.
LED daytime running lights for S line versions
Previously an optional extra for the rear lights in Saloon and Avant models, LED lighting technology becomes a standard feature in both body styles, and in conjunction with xenon bulbs is also employed – in trademark Audi strip format – in the headlamp units of S line versions as standard. Positioned at the base of the lens, rather than separately lower down in the bumper as in the S6, these distinctive lights are exclusive to A6 S line models and to the RS 6.
The performance oriented S line specification continues to be complemented by the more comfort-biased SE option in the UK line-up, but in this new generation range is also joined by a standard trim level available exclusively for four-cylinder models.
The impressive sense of space and quality and the general layout of the much praised cabin will be familiar from the outgoing A6, but it is embellished here by enhancements including higher resolution graphics for the instrument panel, new upholstery materials and additional chrome detailing.
The much praised Multi Media Interface (MMI) infotainment control system also continues, but has evolved considerably for the new A6 range to include new, even more intuitive ‘joystick’ control and the very latest Navigation plus system sourcing its high-tech 3D mapping from a 40GB hard drive which can also store MP3s and up to 2,000 addresses. The options list also now includes useful new features such as the Audi side assist blindspot warning system, Audi lane assist lane departure warning system and radar assisted adaptive cruise control.
New RS 6 saloon debuts
V10 bi-turbo power has until now only been available in conjunction with an Avant estate body shell in the 580PS RS 6 Avant, but to coincide with the launch of the new A6 range this astonishing ten cylinder powerhouse can now be enjoyed in both body styles. The new RS 6 Saloon opens for UK order alongside its A6 counterparts this week priced at £76,160, and deliveries will begin in November.
At the heart of the RS flagship is a 5.0-litre version of the exceptionally compact, naturally aspirated 5.2-litre V10 FSI petrol engine powering the S6 quattro. Two turbo chargers and extensive component refinements boost the output of this acclaimed unit to 580PS at 6,250rpm, and increase torque from 540Nm to 650Nm, available from just 1,500rpm right through to 6,250rpm.
As a result, the RS 6 quattro with optimised six-speed tiptronic automatic transmission can blast to 62mph from rest in 4.5 seconds, and continue until its electronic governor cuts in at either 155mph or 175mph, depending on whether or not its owner chooses the extra cost de-restriction package. On the combined cycle, a surprisingly real world economy figure of 20.3mpg is achievable thanks to FSI injection efficiency.
Latest generation quattro and Dynamic Ride Control
Management of the power’s smooth passage via the 20-inch wheels to the tarmac is taken care of by the latest generation quattro four-wheel-drive system, ensuring that it translates seamlessly into smooth, safely contained and uninterrupted performance. The feeling of unflappable composure is emphasised further by a new version of the Dynamic Ride Control (DRC) system first seen in the original RS 6 quattro, but updated here to include three distinct settings selectable by the driver.
The incredibly assured handling this advanced set-up permits can be enjoyed from the comfort and support of the cabin’s sculpted and ultra-grippy leather and alcantara-upholstered RS sports seats, the driver’s positioned perfectly in relation to the flat-bottomed RS sports steering wheel with multifunction controls and transmission shift paddles. Additional RS features in the much praised interior also include boost pressure and oil temperature readouts, milled finish door handles and aluminium-look pedals. The familiar A6 Avant virtues, not least its potential 1,660-litre load capacity, are of course very much in evidence.