Created using a new styling language and built on Audi’s latest MLB Evo architecture, the new Audi A6 follows the range-topping A8 and the sporty A7 hatchback. This mid-size luxury sedan adopts the brand’s latest styling themes, which are intended to move beyond the boxy and less appealing designs seen on the current A4 and Q7.
The proportions and shapes of the A6 have been preserved, including the arched roofline that has become an Audi signature, while the new model is only fractionally bigger than its predecessor (0.3 inch longer, 0.5 inch wider, and 0.1 inch taller). The front end has become more angular and is a little more complex than even the new A7 and A8 designs. In back, the haunches are accentuated with a crisp fold reminiscent of the original Audi Quattro, while the wide taillights feature a futuristic, sculptural look.
The horizontal character line on the flanks curves inward and drops at both ends, which makes the car look wide when viewed from an angle and highlights the long-hood/short-deck theme when seen in profile. Wheels are sized from 17 to 21 inches; we expect 18s will be the smallest offered in the United States.
According to Audi, there’s more rear legroom, and head and shoulder room are increased in both front and rear. More impressive is the techno-futuristic cabin design, essentially identical to what we’ve seen in the A7 and distinguishing the A6’s interior from its competitors by the generous use of glass and aluminum. An optional ambient-lighting system offers a choice of 30 colors. The available four-spoke steering wheel seems more fitting for a premium sedan than the pseudo-sporty three-spoke wheel. The materials look extremely modern throughout, and the head-up display is far better integrated than on the current model.
The A6’s pretty surface hides cutting-edge technology. The MLB Evo architecture is designed for front- or all-wheel drive and offers optional all-wheel steering. There are four different suspensions, depending on the market: a standard steel-spring suspension, a lowered Sport version, another with adaptive dampers, and an air-spring setup also fitted with adaptive damping.
While Europe will see a plethora of diesel offerings, the U.S. will have a choice between two gasoline engines: a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four producing around 250 horsepower and a turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 good for 340 horses. The latter pairs with Audi’s S tronic seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, which also serves the only four-cylinder offered at launch in Europe, a turbo-diesel. Audi may employ a conventional eight-speed automatic with the 2.0-liter gasoline four, as it does today. An S6 with a stronger twin-turbo V-6 will follow later. All A6 models will have electrically assisted powertrains; they can recuperate kinetic energy under braking and are fitted with an ultraquiet belt-driven starter/generator to facilitate stop/start technology.
In Europe, the new A6 sedan launches in early summer; we expect it to come out in the United States in late 2018 as a 2019 model. With this new sedan, competition has gotten a lot more interesting again: Next to the luxurious Mercedes-Benz E-class and the somewhat conservative BMW 5-series, the Audi A6 is once again the coolly elegant, technology-driven alternative.