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.

News
The guide, since withdrawn, used illustrations and text to help people understand the court process (Getty)
newsMinistry of Justice gets law 'terribly wrong' in its guide to courts
News
Bobbi Kristina Brown with her mother Whitney Houston in 2011
people
News
Starting the day with a three-egg omelette could make people more charitable, according to new research
scienceFeed someone a big omelette, and they may give twice as much, thanks to a compound in the eggs
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
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

    Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

    £15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

    Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

    £15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

    Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

    £20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

    Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

    £18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

    Day In a Page

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
    Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

    The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

    Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
    Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

    A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
    How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

    How books can defeat Isis

    Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
    The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

    The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

    The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
    Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

    Young carers to make dance debut

    What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
    Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

    Design Council's 70th anniversary

    Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
    Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

    Dame Harriet Walter interview

    The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

    Bill Granger's winter salads

    Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
    England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

    George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

    No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
    Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links