When less is more

The 1.8-litre version of Audi's revised A6 delivers more than the previous 2-litre

The new Audi A6 looks sleeker and sportier than the old version.
The new Audi A6 looks sleeker and sportier than the old version.ST PHOTOS: CHRISTOPHER TAN
The new Audi A6 looks sleeker and sportier than the old version.
The new Audi A6 looks sleeker and sportier than the old version.ST PHOTOS: CHRISTOPHER TAN

There are a number of things that make Audi's facelifted A6 worth a second look, of which the most significant is not visible to the eye.

It has to do with what lies beneath its bonnet - an expansive sheet of metal pulled forward and outward to make the car look wider and lower slung.

In the base variant tested, the engine is a modest 1.8-litre, turbocharged to produce 190bhp of power and a more-than- respectable 320Nm of torque between 1,400 and 4,100rpm.

This smallish power plant outguns the previous 2-litre starter unit, which churned out 180bhp and 320Nm between 1,500 and 3,900rpm.

Paired with a refined seven- speed dual-clutch gearbox (instead of the 2-litre's continuously variable transmission), the front-wheel- driven A6 goes from standstill to 100kmh in 7.9 seconds, peaking at 233kmh.


  • Price: $250,800 with COE

    Engine: 1,798cc 16-valve inline-4 turbocharged

    Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch with manual override

    Power: 190bhp at 4,200rpm

    Torque: 320Nm at 1,400-4,100rpm

    0-100kmh: 7.9 seconds

    Top speed: 233kmh

    Fuel consumption: 5.7 litres/100km

    Agent: Premium Automobiles

The 2-litre version clocked 8.3 seconds and 226kmh.

For a car that is longer than a Mercedes E-class and wider than a BMW 5-series, the A6's performance is nothing short of amazing. Especially when it is shod with such a dimunitive engine.

At the wheel, its uncanny swiftness is very believable. The A6 takes no time at all to take off from the lights, leaving all but the quickest cars behind.

Take your eyes off the speedometer and the executive sedan is well past the century mark the next time you look.

Quick is the car's preferred mode of travel. For when it is driven gently, you notice little imperfections, such as a less-than-linear throttle and a somewhat sticky gearbox.

The A6 is happiest on the highway, like all big cars with small engines. Cruising at 90kmh along the Pan-Island Expressway, it is smooth, quiet and pampering.

It is also at its most efficient, returning 100km on something like 6.5 litres of fuel. In Upper Serangoon Road on a Saturday night, this can go to 12 litres or more.

Over a three-day test-drive, the car averaged 7 litres -not quite its declared 5.7 litres/100km figure, but still highly commendable for such a big car with such a big performance.

It is also 11 per cent more economical than the previous 2-litre version, even though it outperforms it in every way. This has to do largely with the 1.8-litre's coasting function - available in Efficiency mode, but not activated at all during the test-drive.

In fact, the car's superior economy earns it an "ultra" label , which Audi bestows on its most efficient creations.

The facelifted A6 is also available as a 252bhp 2-litre, 333bhp 3-litre V6, and a 560bhp 4-litre V8 (in the RS6 Avant) - all of which are probably dishier on the go. But the 1.8 is endearing because it offers so much bang with so little.

In the Singapore context, it is obviously the most sensible variant, too.

With the cosmetic tweaks that align the sedan with Audi's new family design, the A6 is sleeker and sportier than before. While its front used to be a little bulbous, it is now a picture of aerodynamism, one befitting its low drag-coefficent value of 0.26.

It gets "Matrix" lights, a dynamic LED illumination package usually reserved for higher-end models.

Inside, its 8-inch retractable infotainment monitor now offers richer graphics and the latest navigation system with Google Maps. Like the TT coupe before it, you can replicate whatever you see on this monitor on the digital instrument binnacle.

Standard issue, too, is its "personal virtual assistant", a Wi-Fi- enabled system that allows up to eight mobile devices to be connected. Voice command is also part of the suite of amenities.

Toys aside, the A6 remains a big and handsome car that offers plenty of space and, now, more than decent pace. And like many people, it is doing more with less.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 01, 2015, with the headline 'When less is more'. Subscribe