1 Jul 2011
The A6 C7 (for seventh-generation C-segment) was a tad shorter than the previous model (-12mm) but 69mm longer in the wheelbase due to some re-organisation of the final drive to the front wheels that pushes the front axle forward.
This not only freed up interior space but also improved the A6's weight balance for better ride and handling. It also benefited from the latest version of Audi's Quattro drivetrain with crown-gear torque splitting between the front and rear axles for more intelligent traction – a set up pioneered on the contemporary RS5 super-coupe to deal with the power from its monstrous V8 engine.
The new A6 line-up launched with three V6 powertrains, all with Audi's seven-speed S-Tronic dual-clutch transmission from the TT sports car – a first for the A6.
The entry level model at launch was the naturally-aspirated 2.8-litre FSI quattro, with 150kW of power and 280Nm of torque – sufficient to power it from standstill to 100km/h in 8.1 seconds.
Next up the range was the $116,500 3.0-litre turbo-diesel TDI Quattro which gained 4kW of power – to 180kW – while retaining 500Nm of torque.
This engine was the most frugal in the range, at least until its four-cylinder little brother arrived a few months later. The V6 chewed through just 6.0L/100km – improved from 7.1L/100km – and emitted just 158 grams of CO2. It was no slouch either, bolting to 100km/h in 6.1 seconds (down from 6.8 sec).
Speed-freaks that could not wait for the hot S6 and hotter RS6 had the option of the 3.0-litre supercharged petrol TFSI variant, taking just 5.5 seconds to race to 100km/h.
A wrap-around dashboard was a key feature of the new-look interior, which also marked the debut of a new-look Drive Select driving mode control unit on the A6 3.0TDI and 3.0TSFI, allowing drivers to dial up an 'efficiency' mode for the first time in an Audi.
This system curbed the air-conditioning and modified the gearshifts to save a few millilitres here and there.
As well as the crown gear central differential on the Quattro system that could push as much as 85 per cent of the driving force to the rear wheels or up to 70 per cent to the front depending on driving conditions, A6 buyers could opt for a sports differential and adaptive air suspension.
All three V6 models got the Audi S-Line sports body pack as standard, with its wider wheel arch flares, bigger front air dam ports and a rear diffuser.
The boot, which got a deeper opening, could swallow 530 litres of luggage – about four golf bags – or 995 litres with the split-fold seats down. Wheels were 18-inch alloys, and larger sizes were available.
Other options included adaptive cruise control with 'stop-and-go' function' – direct from the contemporary A8 – and a head-up display that could beam speed, sat-nav instructions and the adaptive cruise information, where fitted.
Night vision was also available, picking out wayward pedestrians and warning the driver.
Audi's MMI pop-up screen interface was standard, as was Bluetooth connectivity, electric seats, sunroof and other usual luxury touches.
In October 2011 Audi introduced frugal, sharply-priced but highly equipped four-cylinder petrol and diesel variants that drove the front wheels through a Multitronic continually-variable transmission (CVT) with a stepped mode that offered eight fixed ratios in sport mode or during semi-automatic operation.
All A6 models featured standard idle-stop and regenerative braking, enabling the petrol four-pot to match the equivalent BMW 520i's 6.4 litres per 100 kilometres (CO2 outputs was 149 grams per kilometre) while hammering the 7.2L/100km returned by the contemporary Mercedes-Benz E250 CGI.
Audi also came close to claiming class supremacy with the diesel A6 2.0-litre TDI offering 5.0L/100km and 132g/km on the combined cycle.
Inside, key equipment included hard-drive satellite-navigation with eight-inch screen and virtual CD stacker, electric front seat adjustment with memory, dual-zone climate control and full leather upholstery.
There was also USB/iPod connectivity, Bluetooth streaming, front and rear parking sensors, cruise control with braking, keyless entry and start, auto-dimming interior and exterior mirrors, automatic wipers and headlights, and 17-inch alloy wheels.
The direct-injection turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine in the A6 produced 132kW of power and 320Nm of torque, sufficient to achieve 0-100km/h in 8.3 seconds while the torquey, frugal diesel did the same sprint in 8.2 seconds.