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First drive: Updated Audi A6

2009-03-11 10:26

Hailey Philander

Audi is adamant its revised A6 is "not just a facelift". If you're in any doubt, the new supercharged 213-kW three-litre V6 could twist your arm.

Admittedly, the changes are rather significant. Sure there are a few changes to the car's appearance, a new front bumper and grille, new headlights with daytime running lights, very sexy LED tail lights and a few chrome touches splashed about, to name a few, but the (two) biggest changes are reserved for beneath the metal.

While the range already contains a veritable mix of petrol and turbodiesel engines, Multitronic CVT and Tiptronic automatic transmissions and a choice between front-wheel drive and quattro all-wheel drive, the new petrol engines are welcome additions. 

Gone is the six-cylinder 2.4-litre model, which has been replaced with a new entry-level model powered by the four-cylinder 2.0 TFSI with 125 kW at its disposal.

A convincing addition to the line-up, this motor's peak power is available from 4 300 r/min and it generates 280 Nm of torque between 1 800 and 4 200 r/min so that, even while it may be the least powerful model in the range, it does not feel underpowered at all. The entry-level model impressed on the sections of the launch route where it stormed across mountain passes and country roads with much aplomb.

Mated with the droning multitronic transmission (the base A6 is no longer available with a manual transmission), the big-boned A6 sprints from 0 - 100 km/h in 8.5 seconds and is capable of a 224 km/h top speed.

Fuel consumption is quoted as 7.7 l/100 km, with CO2 emissions of 179 g/km.

Heavy metal

As a replacement for the 3.2 FSI, the stonking supercharged 3.0 TFSI joins the line-up too.

Apart from the RS6, this model undoubtedly provides the biggest fun factor in the range. It comes with a 3.0-litre supercharged V6 engine that produces 213 kW between 4 850 and 6 800 r/min and 420 Nm of torque between 2 500 r/min and 4 850 r/min.

Power is readily available and delivery through the six-speed tiptronic 'box is smooth as silk - and instantly addictive.

The revised quattro system - that distributes slightly more torque to the rear axle for a 40/60 split - is employed on this model, and it sprints from standstill to 100 km/h in a quick 5.9 seconds. Top speed is limited to 250 km/h. Fuel consumption on a combined cycle of 9.4 l/100 km is proffered by Audi along with CO2 emissions of 219 g/km.

The six-cylinder 2.8 FSI, 2.7 TDI and 3.0 TDI are carried across with all three boasting increased outputs.

There are some additional changes in the form of new suspension dampers with an optimised valve system and an enlarged diameter at the front.

Ride quality on the models driven was exceptional with a definite bias towards comfort that saw the cars waft across most dips and over most bumps. Despite its sizeable girth, A6 is very nimble and did not baulk at the idea of tackling a few high-speed sweeps were it responded with absolute composure and minimal body roll.

At low speeds, shakes and rumbles do make their presence felt in the cabin, though. Adaptive air suspension is an option, although you probably won't miss too much if it you forget to tick it on your options list.

Updated MMI

The cabin has received some attention, too, with the inclusion of the new hassle-free MMI being the most notable addition. MMI has a large colour screen with pop-up menus and the central control wheel can be operated like a joystick. There are now also metallic inserts for the facia and a three-spoke multifunction steering wheel is offered across the range. The spacious cabin remains classy with its mix of leather and soft-touch plastics, while the supremely comfortable seats would not be out of place in your living room.

A6 is comprehensively equipped, but those looking for something a little extra may want to consider the Executive Package, the sports package or the S-Line body kit.

It goes without saying that A6 is fitted with a raft of safety features, but a number of new systems are also offered.

Audi's side assist is a lane changing system that operates at speeds above 30 km/h, lane assist helps the driver stay in lane, adaptive cruise control and the parking system with a rear-view camera.

Audi has managed to sneak its revised A6 into the market ahead of the all-new Mercedes-Benz E-Class headline act later this year and the next-generation BMW 5 Series, but maintains it has the right formula to keep South Africans interested.

A6 2.0 TFSI multitronic - R 372 500
A6 2.7 TDI multitronic - R 462 500
A6 2.8 FSI multitronic - R 467 500
A6 3.0 TDI quattro tiptronic - R 555 500
A6 3.0 TFSI quattro tiptronic - R 571 000
RS6 5.0 V10 quattro tiptronic - R1 069 000

The A6 Avant is no longer available in South Africa.


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