The Audi A6 is our favourite executive car

Styling

The Audi A6 may not stand out like its A7 sibling, but it is a very smart looking machine with sharp, taut lines and lovely touches such as the LED daytime running lights on S line models. These also get lowered and stiffened suspension, a mild bodykit and larger alloy wheels for a sophisticated sporty look, but even standard SE models have alloys and are very stylish. The A6 has a class-leading cabin that borrows much of its style and quality from the flagship A8. Audi’s clever and logical MMI controller sits behind the gearlever and the dashboard is simple and easy to use with few buttons to distract you. Even entry-level SE models get a sat-nav system which uses Google maps – the only car in its class to offer it as standard, and a real attraction for business drivers. In addition, SE models get leather upholstery, climate control, automatic lights and wipers as well as front and rear parking sensors. S line versions add sports seats and xenon headlights.

Driving and Performance

With extensive use of aluminium, the Audi A6 is a light car and it feels agile on the move. Its steering is not as communicative as that of a BMW 5 Series or Jaguar XF, but the A6 is still precise and good to drive. Standard cars have a firm but compliant ride – we can’t see the benefit in paying for the optional air suspension system – but S line models do thump and jar over pot holes. High powered engines, such as the 296bhp 3.0-litre supercharged V6 and two 3.0 TDI diesels are fast and get quattro four-wheel drive. But most models will be sold with the 175bhp 2.0-litre diesel and it’s an excellent unit, capable of doing 0-62mph in 8.2 seconds when hooked up to the excellent eight-speed Multitronic automatic. It’s quiet and refined at all times, and is particularly relaxing on the motorway too.

MPG and running costs

Given that most will be driven by business buyers, the 2.0 TDI is the pick of the range, as it can return up to 57.6mpg and emit just 129g/km of CO2 – impressive figures, although the BMW 520d Efficient Dynamics still pips it with an incredible 62.8mpg and 119g/km. Both are miles ahead of the Jaguar XF 2.2d though. As for running costs, residual values should be very strong indeed and with service packages aimed at reducing business costs, the A6 shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg to keep going.

Practicality

The new A6 is bigger than its predecessor, which means more space in the back, where you will find heaps of head and legroom. With lots of glass details, the Audi A6 doesn’t feel as claustrophobic as some of its rivals. The boot is also vast with 530-litres of luggage space in standard mode (making it bigger than a BMW 5 Series), and 995-litres with the rear seats folded flat. Although if you really want more space, you’ll be better off with the A6 Avant.

Safety and reliability

The Audi A6 is extremely safe. It has a five star Euro NCAP safety rating, with an impressive 91 per cent for adult occupant. Standard safety kit includes six airbags as well as traction and stability control, while you can specify optional extras such as adaptive cruise control, a lane departure warning system and a blind spot warning system too. Audi has a strong reputation for reliability and we have no reason to expect the A6 to change this. The previous-generation model finished 39th overall in the 2011 Driver Power reliability survey, while Audi finished seventh overall in the manufacturer standings.

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