Audi's new 3-litre A6 justifies hefty pricetag with performance

The Audi A6 quattro 3.0 has a sleek bodykit and racy 20-inch alloy wheels.
The Audi A6 quattro 3.0 has a sleek bodykit and racy 20-inch alloy wheels.PHOTO: DAVID TING

The new 3-litre A6 is much more expensive than the 1.8-litre version, but justifies it by providing far better performance

Audi's new mid-range 3-litre A6 is currently priced at $359,900, which is $114,000 more than the entry- level 1.8-litre A6. The price difference is almost big enough to buy another new Audi, the 1-litre A1 Sportback.

So it is not surprising that the vast majority of A6 buyers have chosen the 1.8, with only a handful ordering the 3.0.

The latter are getting significantly "more" A6 saloon, though, as reflected in the 3.0's OMV (open market value), which is about 50 per cent higher than that of the 1.8.

It looks more expensive too, thanks to the sleek S line bodykit (bumpers and door sills), racy 20-inch alloy wheels and powered sunroof - all standard equipment for this variant. High-tech matrix LED headlights complete the exterior, but these are also available on the 1.8.

What is unavailable in the entry- level 1.8 is the 3.0's gem of an engine. Compared with the previous 3-litre A6 V6, also supercharged, it has significantly greater horsepower (333bhp versus 300bhp) and the same amount of torque (440Nm).

Despite its stronger power output, the six-cylinder is more economical, able to travel about a kilometre farther on every litre of petrol. This is made possible by technical improvements to the six-cylinder engine, such as a more efficient supercharger, a new electro-mechanical clutch and dual injection.

  • SPECS/AUDI A6 QUATTRO 3.0

  • Price: $359,900 with COE

    Engine: 2,995cc 24-valve V6 supercharged

    Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch with manual override

    Power: 333bhp at 5,500-6,500rpm

    Torque: 440Nm at 2,900-5,300rpm

    0-100kmh: 5.1 seconds

    Top speed: 250kmh (electronically limited)

    Fuel consumption: 7.6 litres/ 100km

    Agent: Premium Automobiles

The car is faster too, clocking just over five seconds in the sprint from standstill to 100kmh, compared with the old 3.0 A6's 5.5 seconds.

The supercharged 3-litre V6 revs promptly and smoothly, and the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox (with a redesigned shifter lever) is equally prompt and smooth.

Best of all, the keen acceleration is virtually unaffected by wet weather (it rained at some points during this test drive) because the A6 3.0 has quattro all-wheel-drive, paired with sticky Pirelli P Zeros. The car just grips and goes - no slip, no hesitation, immediate action.

It also has a standard sport differential that parcels the ample power between the rear wheels during full-throttle cornering. But for everyday driving in Singapore, the grippy quattro system will be more useful most of the time.

Useful, too, are the amenities inside the spacious and well-made cabin. Good infotainment with easy connectivity to multiple personal devices plus one USB port each for the driver and co-driver. Accurate and attractively rendered navigation with Google Earth maps. A clear head-up display. Automated "hands-free" parking. Front seats with integrated air-conditioning (and heating), 20-way powered adjustment and two-memory settings. And double-glazed side windows to reduce noise from wind and traffic.

There is a dedicated button to activate the "IT girl" inside the dashboard. She obeys basic voice commands, such as calling a contact in the phone directory, entering a navigation address or choosing an infotainment function. If the auto air-con fans are blowing loudly, she temporarily reduces their output so you can hear her more clearly - which is thoughtful but not necessary.

On the move, the multi-mode Audi Drive Select gives the driver several choices to suit different driving situations and his own preferences.

For me, the do-it-all and do-it-well drive mode is Auto, which feels a little more connected to the tarmac than Comfort mode, without being fidgety. Dynamic mode makes the drive livelier and the steering heavier (the steering is light and low-effort by default), but it might get tiring after one fast corner too many.

The Individual mode allows the driver to set up the handling to his liking, by pre-selecting from Comfort, Auto and Dynamic for the engine/gearbox, steering and sport differential.

The car's ride quality is on the stiff side, but it is acceptable considering the sporty, low-profile tyres - 255/35 R20 Pirelli P Zeros - and their handling advantage.

The 3-litre A6 costs a lot more than the 1.8-litre A6, but justifies the extra expense with far better performance, superior grip and even nicer amenities.

•The writer is the editor of Torque, a motoring monthly published by SPH Magazines.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 15, 2015, with the headline 'Good things come in 3s'. Print Edition | Subscribe