Audi A6 2.0 TDI SE

New Audi is packed with hi-tech gizmos seen – usually – in only the grandest luxury motors

Two pieces of welcome-to-the-future gadgetry really tickled me in Audi's new A6.

It was dark. I was following another A6, like mine fitted with a pair of widely spaced exhaust pipes. On the display panel between the main instruments was the night-vision system.

Displaying a miniaturised replica of your view ahead, it uses thermal imaging to highlight things you might not otherwise see at night. It recognises human shapes, too, and surrounds them with a red rectangle so you'll be sure to spot pedestrians in the murk. But what a different view of other traffic it offers. The A6 ahead appeared to have its afterburners on full reheat, such was the brilliance of infra-red output from its exhaust pipes. Even the back bumper was aglow.

Then there's the WiFi hotspot. The sat-nav/stereo/multimedia interface/etc has a permanent internet connection, enabling it to use Google Earth imaging if you want to make the maps especially realistic. And the built-in WiFi means you can use your laptop in the A6 and be on the internet. Your iPod Touch can use it, too.

True, none of this is unique to the A6. Nor is it standard equipment. But I have not encountered these systems in anything less than the grandest, most luxurious cars. The A6 is quite a large car but it is a couple of stages short of supremacy in the Audi model hierarchy. It brings Audi A8 gizmology to the class below.

It also brings a very A8-like interior design, with lush leather as standard, and a very similar design of sleek, wraparound dashboard. There's much aluminium detailing, and the bonnet, boot, doors and front wings are also made of the lightweight metal. So is much of the suspension and the structural parts to which it is attached.

All this means that the new A6 weighs around 80kg less than an equivalent previous one. But if you saw those two A6 generations, would you immediately tell them apart? The nose is the giveaway, more assertive and angular, with fierce-looking headlights and a welcome reduction in overhang, while elsewhere it's really just a sharper reinterpretation of what went before.

Of course there's plenty more (optional) techno-wizardry. LED headlights with speed-variable beam patterns, various lane-departure and blind-spot warnings, automatic braking, clever electric power-steering able to self-correct a lane wander, multiple settings for steering, optional air suspension and automatic gearchange alertness, can all be found here. All of which makes it harder to discern the core personality of the car beneath.

I'll try. Four engines will initially be offered in the UK, three of them diesels and all fitted with a stop-start system which is the chief reason for claims of up to 19 per cent improvements in fuel economy. I began with the petrol A6, a 3.0-litre V6 with a supercharger, a seven-speed double-clutch gearbox, 300bhp and the S-Line pack of "sporty" suspension and wheels. Costing from £41,620, it was fast, felt planted on the road, was a touch too firm over bumps, and seemed to be a car in which natural responses had been neutralised and synthetic ones inserted in their place.

Next came a 3.0 TDI V6, in the lower of two engine outputs (204bhp rather than 245) and driving the front wheels only via a continuously variable automatic transmission called Multitronic. This car officially emits just 137g/km CO2, and the whole combination is effortlessly effective if a touch aloof.

Finally, I drove the 2.0 TDI, now with 177bhp and a 129g/km CO2 rating. And at last I could feel what the A6 is all about, helped by a slick, easy manual gearchange, less weight over the front wheels, and a lightness on its feet missing in the V6-engined cars. It rode well, it steered accurately, it felt natural instead of over-electronicised. This least-expensive A6 (from £30,145) proved to be the most pleasing of all – an Audi with which you can properly bond. With modern cars, "less is more" is a maxim which often holds true. It's certainly true of this new Audi.

The Rivals

BMW 520d SE: £29,430, 184bhp, 129g/km.

Not the "ultimate driving machine" of the past, but there's green tech for a low CO2 rating. Not as covetable as a 5-series once was.

Mercedes-Benz E220 CDi SE: £30,645, 170bhp, 150g/km.

Latest E-class brings back proper Merc values of solidity and rational functionality. It's a delightful car to drive. Recommended.

Saab 9-5 2.0 TiD Vector SE: £26,995, 160bhp, 139g/km.

A handsome, very Swedish saloon. Engine is gruff, but 9-5 is good to drive if you avoid "sports" suspension and wheels.

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
tv
News
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
people
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
people
Sport
SPORT
News
people
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Biggins as Mrs Smee in Peter Pan
theatreHow do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor

    Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: SURREY - An outstanding high level opportunity...

    Austen Lloyd: Construction Solicitor - London

    Very Competitive Salary : Austen Lloyd: NICHE CITY FIRM - We are making a disc...

    Austen Lloyd: Construction Solicitor - London

    Very Competitive Salary : Austen Lloyd: NICHE CITY FIRM - We are making a disc...

    Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

    £65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

    Day In a Page

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
    Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

    Marian Keyes

    The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

    Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

    Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
    Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

    Rodgers fights for his reputation

    Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
    Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

    Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

    'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
    Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick