What are you driving?
The sole petrol-powered model in Audi's latest opening salvo on the mid-sized executive class, in the form of the fifth-generation A6 '55' TFSI. That baffling two-digit number means it has 340hp and 500Nm from a turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine, making it good for 0-100km/h in a pretty darned quick 5.1 seconds and the usual 250km/h top speed. Honestly, the fact a 340hp A6 no longer gets the brand's sporty 'S' badging is just a sign of where we are in the world in terms of crazy horsepower figures. This is a quick car, make no bones about it.
Like all Mk5 A6s (and new A7s and A8s, for that matter), the 55 TFSI is a mild-hybrid electric vehicle (MHEV) that uses a belt-alternator starter with a lithium-ion battery, allowing the car to coast with its engine off at high speeds and initiate its start-stop system earlier. That reduces fuel consumption on the Audi by up to 0.7 litres/100km according to its maker. On the six-cylinder Audi A6s, this is a 48-volt MHEV system, while the four-cylinder models - including the new A6 40 TDI, which we've already tested - operate with a less powerful 12-volt set-up.
Name its best bits
The exquisite interior, with its three screens, the centre two providing lovely haptic feedback when you press their 'buttons', as it were. The crisp look of the exterior, as the Audi saloon looks fantastic from all angles. The generous space in the rear, legroom improved by the car's marginal growth compared to its predecessor. And the silky 3.0-litre drivetrain, which provides the A6 with a drama-free yet rapid turn of pace in all driving situations.
Anything that bugs you?
We tried this 55 TFSI model in all-singing, all-dancing specification with air suspension and four-wheel steering. And, to be honest, we think the A6 is a better car in slightly simpler guise. The four-wheel steer (4WS) is good, as you can feel it working in low-speed corners and it does help with very sharp turns at very low speed, but to be honest the fixed rear axle doesn't let the rest of the A6 package down so we don't know why you'd spend more on the 4WS for little apparent gain.
Ditto the air suspension. The ride on this air-sprung TFSI was better than a 50 TDI on air we tried earlier in the day, but we still prefer the adaptive dampers option and we still prefer the cars on smaller, 19-inch wheels than the ones rolling on the (admittedly lovely to behold) 20-inch rims. The Audi is by no means bad on the air suspension, but if it's a four-figure cost option, which it most likely will be, then we can't justify the benefit of it, over and above adaptive dampers.
And why have you given it this rating?
Possibly a bit more time in the A6 will convince us to give it another half star, because it has definitely improved from the old model's offering and it can hold its head up among some strong competition in this class. We think the Avant estate and allroad quattro models will be even better than the saloon, though, and we cannot wait to try the new RS 6 when it finally arrives. So we're erring on the side of caution and sticking at four stars... for now.
I want to know more
If there is anything specific you'd like to know about the Audi A6 that we've not covered, feel free to send us a question via the Ask Us Anything page.