The eighth-generation A6 packs mild hybrid tech, three digital displays inside the cockpit and lots of new fun-to-drive bits.
Steven EwingFormer managing editor
Steven Ewing spent his childhood reading car magazines, making his career as an automotive journalist an absolute dream job. After getting his foot in the door at Automobile while he was still a teenager, Ewing found homes on the mastheads at Winding Road magazine, Autoblog and Motor1.com before joining the CNET team in 2018. He has also served on the World Car Awards jury. Ewing grew up ingrained in the car culture of Detroit -- the Motor City -- before eventually moving to Los Angeles. In his free time, Ewing loves to cook, binge trash TV and play the drums.
Much as I love the swoopy shape of the
A7, the truth is, most people would just as well own a traditional, three-box sedan. For them, Audi makes the A6, and the brand-new, eighth-generation model will greet the world at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show next week.
Given the A6's more mainstream aspirations, its design is reminiscent of the A7, but dialed back a touch. Indeed, there's tasteful restraint to the shape of the LED headlight housings up front, as well as the lower air intakes. Around back, simple taillamps flank either side of the elegant rear fascia, with a nicely sculpted bumper.
I'll argue that the A6's best viewpoint is from the side profile. Large wheels fill out the front and rear wells, and the harmonious arch of the roofline with substantial glass between the C- and D-pillars harks back to previous generations of the A6. It's very attractive.
Inside, the A6 shares its ultra-modern cockpit layout with the A7. Just one glance at this cabin and it's obvious the A6 is a tech powerhouse, but one that's nicely complemented with leather, real wood inlays and sophisticated aluminum accents. Given the A6's more conventional sedan shape, there ought to be a fair bit more headroom for all passengers, especially those in back. The 2019 A6 is appropriately sized to comfortably seat four adults, as any German executive sedan should. And while it doesn't have the capacious hatchback of the slick A7, the A6's trunk boasts 18.7 cubic feet of space -- more than enough for the all-important set of golf clubs.
The amount of in-car tech is simply astonishing, Audi clearly cementing its place as a technological giant in the luxury space. For starters, the A6 gets Audi's fantastic Virtual Cockpit gauge display, with a 12.3-inch, high-resolution display showing all of the vehicle's functions, as well as navigation and entertainment information. But that's just one of three large screens found inside the new A6.
If your A6 is equipped with MMI Navigation Plus, you'll get a 10.1-inch screen at the top of the center stack. Below that, an 8.6-inch touchscreen display resides in the center console, and this is where driver and passenger can adjust things like climate control, text input for the MMI infotainment system and more. Audi even specifically placed this display within reach of the gear selector so you can rest your arm on the shifter while using the touchscreen. How sweet.
Up to seven drivers can store individual user settings in the new A6, with as many as 400 different adjustable parameters. And in case you misplace the car key while shuffling between those seven different drivers, Audi will offer a Connect Key which allows you to do things like lock and unlock the car and start the engine via an Android smartphone. (Sorry,
Like the A7, the new A6 will launch with a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 engine in the US. With 340 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque on tap, running through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and Quattro all-wheel drive, Audi says the A6 will sprint to 62 miles per hour in just 5.1 seconds. Other four- and six-cylinder engines are expected to launch in the future, and European markets will get a 3.0-liter diesel V6 with 286 horsepower.
Also like the A7 (notice a pattern here?), every version of the new A6 will use mild hybrid technology. A 48-volt battery will come standard with every powertrain. This allows the engine to uncouple from the rest of the drivetrain while coasting between 34 and 99 mph, and the stop-start system can turn the engine off from 14 mph during stopping. The moment acceleration is required, the engine fires back up without missing a beat.
It'll be some time before any of us get behind the wheel of the A6, but I've got high hopes. The current car is already an enjoyable steer, and a number of technologies have been added to the new car. For starters, there's a new variable dynamic steering setup, adjusting the steering ratio between 9.5:1 and 16.5:1, depending on speed. The A6 also gets four-wheel steering, with the ability to turn the rear wheels up to as much as 5 degrees. And hey, there are four different suspension setups to choose from: one with steel springs, a sport suspension, one with damper control and an adaptive air setup. Neat.
Myriad driver assistance technologies make their way to the new A6 as well. Parking Pilot and Garage Pilot can autonomously maneuver the sedan in and out of a parking space or garage. A new Tour Assist package works with the adaptive cruise control to provide steering intervention, helping to keep the vehicle in its lane. Of course, the usual smattering of blind-spot monitoring, cameras all around, parking sensors and more will all find their way into the A6, as well.
Following its debut in Geneva next week, the A6 will hit European showrooms this summer, with the US and other global markets getting the car many months after that.