The Audi A6: An overachiever with new strengths
A winner always builds on his strengths: That's why Audi has again upgraded its luxury class A6 model. Efficient engines have been added to the drive-train lineup, with innovative technologies cutting fuel consumption by about 15 percent across the whole model range. An improved suspension and new high-tech assistance system give the driver even greater control over the car. And the new-generation MMI control system is out-performing itself. The revamped A6 will be launched in the German market in late summer.
It's the sportiest and most popular business sedan on the market. The Audi A6 is leading the Premium C pack – both in Europe and around the world. In 2007, Audi sold about 234,000 units, giving the A6 a 37 percent market share among its core competitors. Most of the A6's sold were equipped with six- or eight-cylinder engines, permanent 4x4 quattro and a luxury assortment of optional equipment – all evidence of the high regard Audi technologies is enjoying worldwide.
Its design is emphasized by a range of bold new accents, perfectly articulating the A6's strong personality. The single-frame grill, bumpers, air vents and fog lights have all gotten a facelift.
The optionally-available xenon plus, LED daytime running lights have been redesigned as horizontal strips with 6 LEDs each. Other options include Audi adaptive light, a dynamic cornering light system, and the high-beam assistant that automatically switches between the high and low beam.
An aluminum-colored molding traversing the sides emphasizes the A6's dynamic contour. At 4.93 meters (16.17 ft) long, 1.86 meters (6.10 ft) wide, and 1.46 meters (4.79 ft) high, little has changed in the sedan's generous proportions. The gentle lip on the trunk, integrated chrome strip on the bumper, broad diffuser and straight exhaust pipes are part and partial of the revamped rear end. The bipartite rear lights with LED technology have also gotten a new look: narrow and wide, they taper inward on the sedan. And there are 13 exterior colors to choose from, including five new ones.
The A6's spacious interior with its clean and elegant contours and perfect craftsmanship is characteristic of this luxury brand. The rear seats are extremely comfortable and the L-shaped headrests improve the driver's rear view visibility. As an option, the back seats can be fitted with a comfortable 2-seater bench. A package of elaborate features makes sure the noise level is cut by almost half, particularly within critical frequency ranges.
The instrument panel uses new higher-resolution graphics; and a new frame better accentuates the display (color in the optional MMI navigation system). Tastefully-appointed chrome trim, even on the spokes of the steering wheel, call attention to its overall elegance and inlays are available in either aluminum look or fine woods.
As is expected of an Audi, the interior designers have made sure all the colors and materials match. Standard seats can be optionally upholstered with a new material; the sport seats are available in Valcona leather. Soft armrests on the doors increase comfort, while the integrated headrest system reduces the danger of whiplash.
Audi is now offering an S-line sports package for the most dynamic of drivers. The package includes enhanced performance features like 18-inch wheels and sports suspension that lowers the ride height by 30 millimeters (1.18 in). Its sporty seats, decorative inlays and upholstery give the black-trimmed interior a feeling of even more exclusivity and the S-line exterior package provides more drama. Features from this Audi exclusive program are tailor-made to fit the A6's luxury-seeking mavericks.
One of the major strengths of the A6 lies in its broad selection of engines: six gas and four diesels use direct fuel injection and cutting-edge FSI, TFSI and TDI technologies in a choice of four, six or eight cylinders. Whether stick shift, convenient tiptronic or high-efficiency multitronic, the energy literally flows to the front wheels, or all four wheels for that matter. Its engines are both powerful and efficient. New measures have been introduced to optimize engines and minimize fuel consumption without sacrificing one ounce of driving pleasure. Fuel consumption over the whole A6 family has been lowered by about 15 percent.
The smallest gas engine is the 2.0 TFSI, a 125 kW (170 hp) turbocharged four-cylinder unit. On the other end of the spectrum is the 4.2 FSI, a 257 kW (350 hp) V8 engine. Audi V6 models can be equipped with one of its two new 2.8 liter FSI engines; the 140 kW (190 hp) or the 162 kW (220 hp). Both engines feature the innovative Audi Valvelift System (AVS), which manages the inlet valve timing so that there is more torque and less fuel consumption. Regardless of which 2.8 FSI engine the A6 sedan is fitted, average fuel consumption is only 8.2 liters per 100 kilometers (28.68 US mpg) for the 190 hp, 6-speed manual shift or 8.4 liters per 100 kilometers (28.00 US mpg) for the 220 hp multitronic CVT.
With its 3-liter displacement and 213 kW (290 hp) power output, the V6 is a particularly exciting newcomer. Audi has designed the perfect package for each one of its engine. That's why the 3.0 TFSI is fitted with a supercharger. From now on "T" doesn't just stand for turbocharged – it stands for supercharged. Supercharger technology does not mean increased consumption – but the short intake paths do mean instantaneous response. And it's got full power build-up even at low engine speeds: from 2500 1/min to 4850 1/min, the torque curve is broad and flat at 420 Nm (309.78 lb-ft).
The 3.0 TFSI comes with tiptronic and quattro drive train. The A6 sedan accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h (62.14 mph) in 5.9 seconds and keeps on going as it presses to its electronically-regulated maximum speed of 250 km/h (155.34 mph). This is the kind of performance that only an eight-cylinder engine would have been able to deliver a few years ago. At 9.5 liters per 100 kilometers (24.76 US mpg) on the EU cycle, the supercharged V6 is amazingly economical. The 3.0 TFSI's combination of dynamic performance and low consumption is one more example of Audi's successful efficiency strategy.
The A6 TDI engines give further evidence of just how closely Audi has been able to align sporty performance and efficiency. Fuel is delivered by the extremely sophisticated and quiet system of common rails with rapid-action piezo injectors and an injection pressure of 1800 bar (26,106.79 psi). The two V6 TDI engines (2.7 TDI with 140 kW (190 hp) and 3.0 TDI with 176 kW (240 hp) have peak torques of 380 Nm (280.27 lb-ft) and 450 Nm (331.90 lb-ft), respectively.
At the lower end of the diesel program is the four-cylinder 2.0 TDI engine, which is available in two versions: the 125 kW (170 hp), expected in fall 2008, and the 100 kW (136 hp). The basic version is an especially efficient e-model known as the 2.0 TDIe, which uses a six-speed manual shift or automatic multitronic transmission to deliver 320 Nm (236.02 lb-ft) of torque to the front wheels. With multitronic it sprints from 0 to 100 km/h (62.14 mph) in 9.9 seconds, and continues on to a top speed of 204 km/h (126.76 mph). Yet its average fuel consumption with a manual shift gearbox is only 5.3 liters per 100 km (44.38 US mpg), equivalent to CO2 emissions of app. 139 grams per kilometer (224 grams per mile).
The key to achieving such exemplary values is the strategic deployment of innovative technologies. The power steering pump operates on demand; the alternator regenerates electrical energy when coasting thereby reducing load off the engine. By lowering the ride height by 20 millimeters (0.79 in) and other aerodynamic fine-tuning, the drag coefficient has been reduced to cD = 0.28.
The transmission can be used longer in the upper two gears. Any manual-shift A6 with Driver Information System, even the 2.0 TDIe, can opt to have the shift indicator displayed in the instrument panel. The icon lets the driver know which gear is most economical under actual circumstances.
Audi quattro four-wheel drive is available on all engines with 140 kW (190 hp) or above and is standard equipment on high-end aggregates. The manual shift, 140 kW (190 hp) 2.8 FSI notwithstanding, this is the very latest generation quattro with the newly emphasized rear-end design. It gives the A6 tremendous driving characteristics, remarkable grip and superior safety. Under normal conditions, the torque split is 40 percent to the front wheels and 60 percent to the rear. The mechanically-operated Torsen differential immediately diverts most of the power to the axle, providing better traction whenever the need arises – in extreme cases, up to 65 percent to the front or 85 percent to the rear.
In fine-tuning the A6, two key objectives were identified – increasing its comfort while retaining its sporty character. With new large-diameter, front-axle shock absorbers operating within an optimized valve system, Audi engineers were able to achieve both goals. Every other aspect of the suspension set-up has been improved, including the automotive spring response.
The A6 can be equipped with factory-fitted adaptive air suspension so that the driver can vary his response and the characteristics of the adaptive shock absorbers into three styles. High-powered engines come equipped with larger 17-inch wheel brakes. Audi can also be fitted with a tire pressure monitoring system, which is entirely wear-free and maintenance-free. The customer can opt for run-flat tires, which limit the car to 50 kilometers (31 miles) should there be a drop in air pressure.
Audi has integrated several new high-tech assistance systems. The new Audi side assist kicks in to help drivers when changing lanes at speeds over 30 km/h (18.64 mph), ensuring a stress-free and superior drive. Using radar sensors, Audi Side Assist is able to detect other cars up to 50 meters (164.04 ft) away: a signal on the outside mirror lights up should changing lanes pose a threat. Audi lane assist helps keep drivers in their own lane, radar-assisted adaptive cruise control keeps a steady distance to the vehicle ahead, and Audi parking system advanced has a rearview camera.
Since its debut in 2002, the Audi Multi Media Interface system (MMI) has been setting the standard for perfectly controlling any number of functions. The A6 comes equipped with the latest MMI generation, including the top-of-the-line MMI Navigation plus. Its basic construction has not changed. The central control knob can still be found on the middle console between the front seats and the operation is still carried out using large buttons. The new joystick capping the control knob means the MMI Navigation plus can be operated even more intuitively.
MMI Navigation plus is an ultimate solution, pioneering in an entirely new system generation with high-tech portfolio and ground-breaking standards. Special features include a CD/DVD/Navigation combination drive with a 40 GB hard drive capacity which can be used to store MP3s and up to 5000 addresses.
With its 7-inch, high-resolution screen, the monitor on this ultimate navigation system is truly innovative. The image is rich in contrast and incredibly sharp even under difficult lighting conditions. It also has an optional TV tuner that receives digital programs (DVB-T) in perfect quality.
The new navigation system has another innovation. A new bird's eye picture mode shows landscapes in topographical relief – in full detail, complete with three-dimensional images of landmark buildings. The monitor has a new operating principle: when adjusting specific functions like air conditioning or seat heating, a pop-up window appears at the right rather than taking over the whole screen.
Most of the new features found in the A6 sedan and Avant are also present in two other models: the versatile A6 allroad quattro and the dynamic S6. The A6 allroad quattro can be powered either by the new 213 kW (290 hp) 3.0 TFSI engine or one of the two powerful V6 TDI diesels. The V10 on the S6 has 320 kW (435 hp). Changes made to the sports model are limited to interior and exterior optical details.
The upgraded Audi A6 will be available in German dealer showrooms as of mid-October 2008. Starting at 34,200 Euros for the A6 2.0 TFSI sedan, Audi's initial list prices have remained virtually unchanged, despite all the extensive innovations.