2019 Audi A6 Review - Simply Stunning
2019 Audi A6 55 TFSI Prestige S Fast Facts
Once upon a time, if you were shopping for a luxury vehicle that drove like a sports car, you’d get a BMW or, in some cases, a Jaguar. If you wanted one strictly for its comfort and opulence, you’d get a Mercedes-Benz or a Lexus. If you wanted a sort of ‘tweener, then you’d consider an Audi, particularly since it was one of the few in its segment to offer all-wheel drive. But these days, the German (and Japanese, and British) luxury giants have become so competitive with each other, they’re no longer separated by the unique characteristics that once defined them.
When it comes to the midsize-luxury-sedan trifecta, this trend couldn’t have been any more apparent. The BMW 5 Series seemingly gave up some of its enthusiast-minded “ultimate driving machine” superiority to focus on technology innovation while the Mercedes-Benz E-Class lost its allure for over-engineered excellence during its mix-up with the DaimlerChrysler merger of equals. Meanwhile, Audi took the lead with the A6, dethroning its direct competitors from their winning pedestals in numerous class comparisons over the years just by ticking all of the boxes incredibly well.
Does the story remain the same with the new fifth-generation model, which recently launched in our market?
Ever since the A6’s second “C5 Type 4B” generation from 1997 to 2004, Ingolstadt’s bread-and-butter midsize sedan always maintained an aesthetic edge over its crosstown competitors with future-proof and bold yet refined exterior and interior styling. As Audi’s design language matured over the years, it became more evolutionary rather than revolutionary, especially when compared to the bulbously proportioned 5 Series and the stodgy and angular E-Class.
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Such is the case with the new A6. It’s hardly a groundbreaking new design, appearing more like a chiseled and updated version of the rather mundane-looking outgoing fourth-generation model. But in the world of humdrum executive midsize luxury sedans, mundane sells in spades and big sales numbers is the name of the game.
But somehow, the new A6 manages to retain a very mature and contemporary curbside appearance that edges on the side of flashy, especially in our tester’s fully-loaded 55 TFSI Prestige S model with its beautiful 21-inch 10-Y-spoke silver-painted sport wheels. The only drawback that I could find with the new A6’s exterior appearance is that its grille is a bit blingy, not from just growing to ungodly proportions, but because of the amount of chrome that fills it. As large grilles have become a defining staple in automotive design as of recent years — a trend ironically pioneered by Audi with its models in the mid-2000s — the A6 certainly raises the bar, but not necessarily in a good way.
The same modern theme carries over inside. Audi has certainly earned a strong reputation for impeccable build quality, beautifully crafted interiors, and immaculate attention to detail; and the latest A6 carries these superlatives without compromise. Not only was I unable to find any surface or material that felt like Audi’s engineers had a budget in mind, but it exuded the theme, ambiance, and feel that’s perfectly befitting for a thoroughly modern mid-size luxury sedan designed, engineered, and built for the 21st century — and then some.
The doors open and close with a solid, resounding, tank-like thud. The leather seats provide both comfort and support in spades. All the plastics and touchable surfaces feel like they belong in a machine that costs thousands more. And despite being a complete tech-fest, all of the gizmos and gadgetry are neatly hidden away in an array of massive, high-definition, and colorful digital screens — three in total to be exact.
The tri-screen MMI and Audi Connect interface comes from the larger, full-size A8 sibling, replacing the traditional analog gauge cluster while two additional screens serve duty for the infotainment and HVAC systems on the center console. But what I love most is that all of the screens are properly integrated into the driver-oriented console, rather than featuring the protruding “tablet-like” design found on some of its competitors.
Despite the tech-laden interior, all the interfaces were relatively easy to use, thanks to the two main center-console units featuring quick and very responsive touch capabilities. Every time you click or select a screen item, a soft and light audible tick emanates from the system, like the screen-touch noise a top-shelf smartphone would make. The only downsides were that all the digital displays produce a considerable amount of glare during nighttime driving, prompting the driver to lower their brightness settings all the way to their darkest. And all the piano-black finished plastic surfaces, including the screens, are absolute fingerprint magnets.
Thankfully, although the majority of the car’s interior functions are digitized, some are still managed with analog buttons, such as the radio’s power and volume controls. One thing’s for sure: as new vehicles begin to feature more tech-heavy features, interior designers and engineers should borrow from Audi’s playbook to learn how to ergonomically structure and properly layout a near-fully digitized interior.
Base A6 sedans in 45 TFSI form come with a 2.0-liter gasoline TFSI turbocharged four-cylinder with 248 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque and a factory-claimed 0-60 time of 6.1 seconds. But my fully-loaded tester came in the next and only upgrade option short of the S6, the 55 TFSI variant, featuring a 3.0-liter TFSI single-turbocharged gasoline V6 with 335 horsepower and 369 lb-ft, dropping the 60 sprint to just 5.1 seconds (again, factory-claimed). Both come with an eight-speed automatic and quattro all-wheel drive.
Diehard power-hungry enthusiasts might detest the lack of a non-S V8 model, but because of how seamlessly smooth the six-cylinder is and how quietly it operates, one could be easily convinced that there’s a much larger powerplant under the hood. Even with only one snail, turbo lag is essentially imperceptible, and power is on demand, no matter the gear or speed. It makes one really question why anyone would need to opt for the S6.
But if you really want that extra power, the S6 is available with a far more powerful 2.9-liter biturbo gasoline V6 with 444 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque, which Audi claims will hit 60 in just 4.4 seconds.
Our tester came with the $1,050 Sport Package, which not only reduces the car’s ride height for a lower center of gravity, but adds a sport-tuned suspension. Despite not being a full-fledged S-model, the fully-loaded A6 still managed its own weight impeccably well with extraordinary body control and neutrally balanced handling, virtually free of any loss of grip at either axle in nearly every condition that I had the chance to properly “push it” in. And yet, it did so without any real compromise with ride quality and smoothness. Simply put, the A6 is stunning all-around.
The light steering does leave a little left to be desired in the feel and weight department, but this is to be expected from an all-wheel-drive luxury sedan.
The 2019 Audi A6 sedan proves that it’s very much worth of carrying its status as the king of midsize luxury sedans. Not only is it beautifully designed, engineered, impeccably built, and excellent to drive, but as previously noted, it simply ticks all the boxes seemingly without compromise. And for its price-as-tested of $77,090 large, it better.
[Images © 2020 Chris Chin/TTAC]
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