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New Audi A6 review: Best out of 6
IN Singapore, the Audi A6 has never quite matched its chief rivals in sales terms.
It's been an uphill fight, especially when you consider the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and the BMW 5 Series have taken past turns at being best-sellers, bar none, in Singapore.
But this isn't the case everywhere else in the world, since it's never been a case of the A6 lacking in ability.
With the new eighth-generation model though, Audi is making sure it has the best chance of being a class leader everywhere in the world, Singapore included.
That renewed effort is quite visible. In contrast to the understatement of its predecessors, the A6's technical, edgy design language has evolved.
One look at the car and it's evident that Audi's advanced production methods allow it to make extremely defined creases in the sheetmetal of the body. These are most visible on the bonnet, and the new horizontal slashes above the each wheel.
Dubbed 'quattro blisters' (a small nod to the motorsport influence that gives the new A6 a raciness it never had before) they also make the car appear wider and lower than it really is, almost like the automotive equivalent of eyeliner.
It's subtle enough that it doesn't translate strongly in photographs, but this A6 is probably the sportiest looking one yet.
The interior is just as techno-futuristic, with the same bold, angular flourishes, but this time covered in traditional materials such as wood, chrome, and leather.
The actual technology on display is as cutting edge as it comes, though.
With three display screens surrounding the driver - a 12.3-inch instrument display, 10.8-inch infotainment screen, and 8.6-inch lower auxiliary screen - the A6 takes the aviation-derived idea of an interactive glass cockpit to an extreme.
The newest MMI Touch Response infotainment system goes full touch for the human-machine interface, so it drops the rotary controller seen on previous iterations.
It also gains an elegant appearance, with crisp graphics and an almost total lack of physical buttons. The tradeoff for that is that it's slightly trickier to use while driving.
To make up for that, it has a much more advanced speech recognition system that works quite well. You say 'I'm feeling cold' or 'Find me a Japanese restaurant' and the car will take the corresponding action.
The switch to Audi's newest modular platform (MLB Evo, as seen in the A8 luxury limo and A7 Sportback) has brought improvements in all areas, from increased interior space to improved efficiency.
There are also new driver assist systems that can, say, take the drudgery out of traffic jams, or present a virtual view of the car's exterior for a much easier time parking.
All A6 models will also be mild hybrids, packing a small lithium ion battery pack in the rear, which allows for longer engine shutoff times, such as when at a red light or during high-speed coasting. They conspire to help save 0.7 litres of fuel per 100km travelled, which over a year of typical use in Singapore translates to more than 100 litres saved.
As it's purely an efficiency booster, the hybrid system adds no additional power, but the car we tested, with the 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 engine, hardly needs that.
There's 340 horsepower and 500 Newton-metres of peak torque on hand, which was more than enough for the big, roomy sedan to never lack for pace or accelerative punch.
At the car's launch, Audi declined to say if it would build other petrol variants, but there almost certainly will be a 2.0-litre as the least expensive model in future.
In the meantime, the 3.0 V6 has tremendous high speed capability. It's significantly quieter than before, and more refined, deceptively easing into triple-digits speeds.
We tested this model with the top-spec adaptive air suspension and all-wheel steering, which made the A6 feel agile and smaller than it really is, a valuable asset on the narrow mountain roads of Portugal's Douro Valley.
These features will likely be optional for Singapore, but even without them, the A6 still has a sporty, involving edge that will please drivers. In other words, it's clear that the A6 should perform at a very high level, even without all the additional cost options ticked.
While the A6 has gained charisma thanks to its design, and occupies the cutting edge of advanced automobiles with its tricky onboard technology, it's the fundamental improvements that could help it get the drop on its rivals this time round.
AUDI A6 3.0 TFSI
Engine 2,995cc, V6, turbocharged
Power 340hp at 5500rpm
Torque 500Nm at 1370-4500rpm
Gearbox 7-speed dual-clutch
0-100km/h 5.1 seconds
Top Speed 250km/h
Agent Premium Automobiles
Available Q4 2018