Technology-packed luxury sedan bucking the downward trend
Look no further than your nearest Holden dealership to see the large sedan market’s demise.
Four doors and a boot with space for the family is no longer fashionable. And don’t even start on wagons.
Mainstream large car sales have plummeted over the past decade, but the prestige sector has been clinging to survival. Posh notchbacks have been declining in popularity by about 25 per cent over the past two years.
Audi’s new A6 was the only large sedan worth more than $70k to improve year-on-year sales last year.
Starting at $95,500, the A6 has been bolstered with an array of updated technology. Our experience was in the base 45 TFSI variant.
Clinical looks come via dark leather, along with glossy black and aluminium finishes across the dash and console. Up-spec models and plusher leather trim, and this base variant feels low rent in comparison.
Showcasing the technical wizardly within are a pair of touch screens on the centre stack and a 12.3-inch digital driver “cockpit” which Audi was the first to deliver and has now become premium commonplace.
Other standard equipment includes wireless phone charger, tri-zone aircon with rear seat vents, 10-speaker sound system armed with smartphone mirroring applications Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, LED headlights and 19-inch alloys.
There’s an array of colours on the palette, but black is the no-cost option. Metallic hues include green, beige, and various shades of blue, silver, white, grey and red for $2200.
Servicing plans are available for three years ($1700) or five ($2810), with intervals annual or every 15,000km.
Warranty coverage is three years and unlimited kilometres (Mercedes-Benz leads the premium way with five years). Owners can extend that period by between one and four years up to 160,000km – for a cost.
The five-star rating comes with impressive results for adult and child protection, while the technical smarts are not confined to the infotainment.
Standard across the board is an impressive suite of aids, including an all-round camera view to make parking easier, radar cruise control which can look after all the braking and accelerating in traffic snarls, along with a range of collision avoidance assistants to help you steer away from trouble.
New technology meets old-school space. Adults will find ample space front and back, even three across the rear bench.
Both central touch screens operate like a smartphone, swiping your way up and down through the various menus. Haptic feedback is provided when you hit various options, so it sounds and feels like a real button.
The top 10.1-inch touchscreen is where you’ll find all the phone, stereo and vehicle information, while the secondary 8.6-inch features all the climate control options.
Collectively it’s a supremely smart piece of gear. The Audi Connect Plus can advise you on where to find the cheapest petrol, provide details on the best restaurants in your area, help find a parking space or advise you when bad weather is headed your direction.
Using the voice recognition system via a steering wheel button, and you can say “I’m cold” and it will adjust the climate control accordingly. If you have a crash, it will call for help, tell first responders what colour the car is, how many people were on board and whether airbags were deployed.
Owners can also send a digital smartphone key to friends or family who want to borrow the car or gain access.
There is limited space within the glovebox, but there is a useful nook on the driver’s side to hide valuables. There are dual cup holders in the front and back (fold down armrest), along with USB ports, as well as bottle holders in the doors.
Well balanced and grippy courtesy of all-wheel drive prowess, the A6 is equally refined as it is luxurious.
Statistics show it can reach 100km/h from standstill in six seconds. That’s brisk, although in the metal it doesn’t feel quick – perhaps due to the refined and quiet nature of the A6.
Riding on 19-inch Pirelli P Zero rubber, it happily bites into the bitumen and happily changes direction with little fuss courtesy of a low centre of gravity. Far better than your high-riding SUV equivalent.
Not as lusty as its V6 sibling, the four potter feels strong although never overwhelming with power. Judicious use of the accelerator is rewarded with a surge, although ask for more and the well is dry.
There’s also a mild-hybrid 12-volt system with assists bolster power and reduce fuel consumption – we managed to average just over eight litres per 100km on our test.
Keep your high-riding SUV. I want a car that actually drives well and lashings of luxury.
Understated yet classy styling fits the criteria. Spectacular technology within is what gets my pulse racing.
BMW 520i Luxury Line $98,320 D/A
Familiar looks but has a strong features list. Under the bonnet is a 135kW/290Nm 4-cyl turbo petrol engine, making it slightly slower than the key rivals.
MERCEDES-BENZ E200 $103,460 D/A
Grace and space comes in spades, but like the base A6 it’s lacking a little pace from the 135kW/300Nm 2.0-litre 4-cyl turbo petrol engine.
Elegant and brimming with smarts, the base model A6 rarely puts a foot wrong. While there is so much to like, it lacks some personality and excitement which compels you to part with $100k.
AT A GLANCE
Audi A6 45 TFSI quattro
PRICE $103,890 drive-away (big guns territory)
WARRANTY/SERVICING 3yrs unlim’ km w’ty (short), $2810 5 yrs (expensive)
ENGINE 2.0-litre 4-cyl 180kW/370Nm, AWD (nothing crazy)
SAFETY 5 stars, 8 airbags, AEB, active cruise, pedestrian detection, traffic jam assist, 360-degree camera (excellent)
THIRST 7.2 litres/100km (8.4 on test)
SPARE Space saver (not great but common)
BOOT 530 (long and deep)