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.

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

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

    £18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Lettings Coordinator / Office Support Administrator

    £20000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This London Bridge based estate...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service / Sales Advisor - Print

    £14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Based just north of York, this ...

    Recruitment Genius: SEO Account Manager

    £15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SEO Account Manager is requi...

    Day In a Page

    Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

    Making of a killer

    What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
    UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

    Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

    Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
    Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
    Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

    No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

    Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
    Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

    Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

    The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
    Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

    Something wicked?

    Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
    10 best sun creams for body

    10 best sun creams for body

    Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

    Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
    Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

    There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

    The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

    Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
    Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

    One day to find €1.6bn

    Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
    New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

    'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

    Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
    Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

    Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

    The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
    Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

    Historians map out untold LGBT histories

    Public are being asked to help improve the map