First drive: 2019 Audi A6 launch review

Moving Well | Tim Nicholson | Posted on 06 December 2019

Tim Nicholson samples the all-new Audi A6 sedan.

Audi built its reputation in Australia on the back of the successful A6 sedan and wagon from the late 1990s and early 2000s. Sales of large executive sedans have dropped off considerably since then as buyers shift to SUVs, but premium brands like Audi are still putting their faith in these types of models. 

The fifth-generation A6 is all new from the ground up, sharing its underpinnings with the impressive A7 Sportback. Highlighting its status as the “technological flagship” of the Audi range, the A6 debuts the brand’s advanced Audi Connect Plus connectivity system. 

Beyond the two model grades available now, more A6 variants are on the way. An entry-level rear-drive 40 TFSI sedan, sporty S6 sedan and the jacked-up A6 Allroad crossover wagon all lob in quarter two next year, while the fire-breathing RS6 V8 wagon should arrive mid-next year.

What do you get for the price?

Initially available with two powertrain variants, the A6 starts at $95,500 before on-road costs for the 45 TFSI quattro, rising to $105,200 for the 45 TFSI quattro S line and topping out with the 55 TFSI quattro S line at $116,000. The 45 TFSI has only just gone on sale but the 55 TFSI has been available since August. Audi has packed the A6 full of gear, and despite the entry model being $4000 cheaper than the outgoing base A6, it gains $13,000 worth of additional standard equipment. 

The 45 TFSI comes with 19-inch alloy wheels, Matrix LED headlights, heated front seats, MMI navigation with MMI touch response with 10.1-inch and 8.6-inch touchscreens, Audi virtual cockpit digital instrument cluster, wireless mobile charging and more. The S line adds a body kit, 20-inch alloy wheels, suspension with adaptive damper control, leather sports front seats, illuminated door sill trims and a head-up display.

Audi now offers a three-year service plan that is priced at $1700 or a five-year service plan, priced at $2630. (More: Australia's best cars for 2019 revealed)

How safe is it?

The A6 achieved a five-star ANCAP crash safety rating last year. Standard safety gear across the range is impressive – as it should be at this price point – and it includes a full suite of Audi driver-assistance features, such as adaptive cruise assist with traffic jam assist, 360-degree camera with kerb-view function, front and rear parking sensors, Audi pre-sense front and pre-sense rear, active lane assist, side assist with cross-traffic alert, collision-avoidance assist and turn assist, intersection assist and an exit warning to avoid dooring incidents.

Close up of Audi A6 badge
Close up of Audi A6 dashboard

What’s it like inside?

Audi has increased interior space by 21 millimetres for the latest A6, which has resulted in 17 millimetres more rear leg room and a boost in head room. It certainly feels spacious in both seating rows and the 530-litre boot is massive. 

In typical Audi style, the cabin is beautifully designed and premium materials are used throughout. The seats in the S line versions are more high-end but all seats have excellent levels of support. It’s also well insulated, protecting occupants from noise even on coarse chip roads.

The Audi Connect Plus connectivity system provides the user with a lot of information. For example, you can search for a particular car-park complex and (depending if it is connected to the system) it will tell you exactly how many spaces are left, and the cost. You can also check petrol prices, the weather and more. It can take some time to get your head around the functionality, but Audi says technicians at dealerships will take customers through that as required.

What’s under the bonnet?

The A6 45 TFSI uses a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine that features a 12-volt ‘mild hybrid’ system. It produces 180kW of power and 370Nm of torque. The A6 55 TFSI has a 250kW/500Nm 3.0-litre turbo V6 with a 48-volt system – the same powertrain from the sleek A7. The 48-volt system operates as the V6’s main electrical system while recuperating up to 12kW of power and assisting with stop-start driving.

Both engines drive all four wheels via Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system and are paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. There is no diesel offering for the A6 this time around.

Is it efficient?

Both engines require premium fuel and have 63-litre tanks. The 45 TFSI consumes 7.3 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined cycle and emits 166g/km of CO2. The larger 55 TFSI drinks 7.2L/100km and emits 164g/km. 

How does it drive?

The 45 TFSI’s 2.0-litre engine is sprightly, offering quick acceleration from a standing start. The power and torque boost of the 55 TFSI’s V6 turbo is noticeable after a stint in the 45. Acceleration is brisk in the 55, especially when overtaking, and it has been engineered for dynamic driving. The quattro all-wheel drive helps here. But the A6 is a big car on the road and it can feel it sometimes. Steering is lightly weighted and the ride has improved compared with the old A6. It’s much smoother, aided in part by the damper control setting.

Should I buy one?

The previous-generation A6 was an excellent car so it was always going to be hard to top it. The new version has upped the value equation considerably and will appeal to tech lovers. It also retains its reputation as a solid driver’s car.