Canadians won?t get the best of the updated 2016 Audi A6
As is the case with many German cars, we Canadians don?t receive the full range of A6 offerings, so some of the changes Audi is introducing we simply won?t be able to experience. Overall, the A6 remains a compelling package of engineering, technology and performance.
2016 Audi A6/S6
Powertrain:?2.0-litre TFSI 4-cyl., 3.0-litre TFSI V6, 3.0-litre V6 TDI, 4.0-litre TFSI V8 (S6)
Power/torque (hp/lb.-ft.):?252/273 (4-cyl.); 333/325 (V6); 240/406 (TDI V6); 450/406 (V8)
Fuel consumption (L/100 km, city/hwy./combined):?Canadian figures not yet available
Recommended fuel:?Premium unleaded (91 octane), diesel (V6 TDI)
Competition:?Acura RLX, BMW 5-Series, Lexus GS, Mercedes Benz E-Class
What?s best:?Sharp contemporary styling, impressive tech / performance credentials
What?s worst:?Several tech innovations not available in Canada
What?s interesting:?Horsepower up, torque unchanged with gas engines (except 4-cyl.)
DRESDEN, GERMANY?The updates Audi has made to its mid-size A6 sedan appear reasonably subtle to the naked eye. Appearances, however, can be deceiving and that?s certainly the case here ? a lot has changed.
Now this doesn?t mean the new A6 doesn?t bear a strong resemblance to the old. because it certainly does. In fact, Were one to park the current car beside the 2016, you?d be hard-pressed to figure out what?s changed, or which one is the new model. Upon seeing it in the flesh at a recent press unveiling, I had to examine the car closely before I could notice any differences.
A few caveats are in order here. One, the changes being introduced on the 2016s (due to begin arriving in Canada next spring) are part of a mid-cycle refresh, so the car hasn?t been completely redesigned.
Secondly, it?s important to note that, as is the case with many German cars, we Canadians don?t receive the full range of A6 offerings, so some of the changes Audi is introducing we simply won?t be able to experience.
Avant and Allroad wagon models, for example, aren?t slated for Canada, which is a real shame because they?re packed with some impressive technology and performance.
The RS 6 Avant, in particular, turned a lot of heads in Dresden. , and rightly so. First off, it looks stunning and secondly, it comes equipped with a 4.0-litre turbocharged V8 that churns out 560 horsepower and 516 lb.-ft. torque. We can only hope Audi eventually has a change of heart and decides to bring this hot wagon to North America.
With that said, there are a number of changes coming to the A6 family that will reach our shores.
Under the skin, aluminum now accounts for much of the A6 structure. The engine compartment cross-strut and cross-members behind the front and rear bumpers are now made of aluminum castings. The name of the game here is Weight savings which totals about 10 kg (22 lbs.).
The use of aluminum continues throughout the rest of the A6 ? the subframe behind the dash, the cross-member in the trunk, front fenders, doors, hood and trunk lid are all made of the lighter alloy. Taken together, the A6?s body is now roughly 20 per cent aluminum which produces a 15 per cent weight savings versus steel, according to Audi.
The shape of those exterior aluminum panels has also been updated for a tighter, more athletic look, although to these eyes, the changes are modest.
This notion applies to the other exterior updates. The front Singleframe grille is wider and now has chrome struts (cross members), the bumper has been redesigned and the headlights have been updated. The standard units are Xenon with LED available as an option.
In Europe, Audi will offer optional Matrix LED headlights on the A6 which offer brightness variability in high-beam settings, along with front and rear dynamic turn signals.
Unfortunately, they will not be offered on North American-bound A6s because they?re not compliant with federal regulations in both Canada and the U.S., a circumstance Audi is hoping will eventually change.
Other exterior updates include slimmer LED tail lights, chrome trim on the trunk lid and redesigned exhaust pipes, which are now covered by trapezoidal-shaped outlets.
Three engines power Canadian-market A6s, two of which are gas-powered (2.0-litre TFSI 4-cylinder, 3.0-litre TFSI V6), along with a diesel 3.0-litre V6. The performance-oriented S6 features a 4.0-litre TFSI V8.
Each of the gas engines have been revised to deliver more power, while the diesel V6?s output remains unchanged at 240 horsepower and 406 lb.-ft. torque.
The base 2.0-litre TFSI 4-cylinder now puts out 252 horsepower and 273 lb.-ft. torque, a gain of 32 and 15 lb.-ft. respectively.
The 3.0-litre TFSI V6 power is up significantly, too, jumping from 310 to 333 horsepower, although torque remains the same at 325 lb.-ft.
The S6?s powerplant, the 4.0-litre TFSI V8, also gets a boost in output from 420 to 450 horsepower, with torque remaining unchanged at 406 lb.-ft.
Audi is claiming, based on European testing, that the power increases will also return improved fuel economy, although Canadian test results are not yet available.
In terms of transmissions, an eight-speed Tiptronic is the only gearbox available on all A6 models, while the S6 comes with the S tronic seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. All models in the A6 family bound for Canada also come with standard Quattro all-wheel drive.
On the inside, the A6 remains more or less unchanged, which definitely has to be viewed as a good thing. A relatively long wheelbase (2,912 millimetres) provides lots of interior space and Audi makes good use of it. The A6 feels spacious and comfortable, with pleasing shapes and surfaces at every turn. Controls and switches have a nice tactile feel and operate with sharp precision.
This is especially true for the infotainment system, which is easy to use and is minimally distracting. The navigation screen is large (6.5-inch) and provides beautifully rendered maps that can be adjusted with ease.
European A6s will also offer connectivity on LTE mobile networks for downloading navigation and app updates on the fly. Sadly, this feature will not be available on A6s coming to Canada.
In terms of road manners, the A6 acquitted itself quite well on the tight, twisting and very wet roads in and around Dresden.
I drove a 3.0-litre TFSI V6 model (likely to be a volume seller in Canada) for an extended jaunt and found it a to be polished and pleasing machine.
The ride quality was impressive and the handling was very sure-footed despite the driving rain I encountered during much of the route. Bumps were absorbed nicely, and the steering felt responsive with good feedback, even to slight inputs.
While the cabin benefits from a fair amount of sound insulation, I was able to detect a pleasing exhaust growl under hard acceleration.
Speaking of acceleration, it?s quite impressive (especially in dynamic mode), and while I couldn?t verify Audi?s ?zero-to-highway? speed of 5.1 seconds, the 1,825 kilogram (4,023 lb.) A6 moves with plenty of haste.
Overall, the A6 remains a compelling package of engineering, technology and performance. With that said, it will be interesting to see how final pricing and fuel economy numbers shake out.
Travel for freelance writer Lee Bailie was provided by the manufacturer.