Gosh, these roads are slim.
Splendidly clean and easy.
That was my thought as I traced the perimeters of Portugal’s Douro Valley within the 2019 Audi A6. Right here, extra consideration is paid, fairly rightly, to the grapevines that provide the world with Port wine than the ribbons of pavement that join them.
This can be a stunning, peaceable, but very busy place. Tour buses rip round hairpin turns, jalopies trundle alongside at effectively beneath the pace restrict, and pedestrians stroll between villages not caring a whit that the roads have neither sidewalks nor shoulders.
In a spot like this, a nimble and responsive automobile makes a giant distinction. And regardless of its 5 metres of size, the brand new 2019 Audi A6 delivers on these traits on this atmosphere – albeit extra so in some configurations than others.
Comparable engines, improved drive really feel
The 2019 A6 will launch in Canada with a single engine possibility, a 3.0-litre V6 TFSI. (A 2.0-litre will observe a number of months later.) This V6 makes 340 hp, the identical quantity as within the outgoing mannequin, nevertheless it receives a torque enhance of 44 lb-ft for a complete of 369 lb-ft.
Each engines are fitted with a gentle hybrid system as customary, which makes use of a belt alternator starter and a 48-volt lithium-ion battery to permit the automobile to coast at speeds between 55 and 160 km/h for as much as 40 seconds, saving as much as 0.7 L/100 km. The battery has been added with out taking away any trunk area, which stays the identical at 530 litres.
Whereas the earlier era got here with an eight-speed Tiptronic transmission, the brand new one comes with a seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch. I haven’t all the time discovered Audi’s DCTs to be intuitive or inspiring, however this one is splendidly clean and easy.
All fashions can be outfitted with customary quattro all-wheel drive that makes use of a self-locking centre differential and rear-axle torque distribution.
There are 4 suspensions out there, and that is the place issues get fascinating: The usual suspension is a traditional steel-spring setup, which understandably feels very poised and flat however in any other case unremarkable. It makes the A6 a succesful and cozy sedan, if not particularly inspiring.
The highest-of-the-line setup, however, is an adaptive air suspension with managed damping and out there rear-axle steering. These options, together with the direct really feel of the progressive steering, liven the A6 up significantly, virtually to the purpose of constructing it really feel like a special automobile. What was as soon as purposeful is abruptly extremely entertaining – spectacular for a automobile in a category the place that’s usually not a precedence.
An alternative choice is the game suspension, or one with damper management however with out adaptive air suspension.
New design language?
Audi says the brand new A6 is, like the brand new A8 and A7 which have come earlier than it, an “expressive ambassador of the brand new Audi design language.” I’ve all the time appreciated Audi’s clear and easy styling method, however the brand new exterior design, whereas enticing, isn’t precisely a departure.
Growing the dimensions of the grille does go a good distance to enhance the A6’s first impression, as do the clear traces of the 32-LED headlamps. The shoulder traces have been refined considerably and the wheel designs are barely extra intricate, however that’s in regards to the extent of any dramatic modifications. It’s sufficient to offer the A6 a drag coefficient of 0.25, although, permitting it to go from zero to 100 km/h in 5.1 seconds.
The inside is a very totally different story. It’s now 21 mm longer with 8 mm extra headroom within the entrance row and 11 mm within the again together with 17 mm of extra second-row leg room. Between the tiered management screens, the low-profile shifter, and the prolonged dashboard particulars with out there giant panels of wooden trim, the within of the A6 has gone from piecemeal humdrum to wash traces and premium surfaces. (I do fear that every one of that piano black end and shelf-like detailing can be a magnet for mud and fingerprints, although.)
Success of two screens stays to be seen
The one factor I’m not offered on is the underside management display.
The extremely customizable instrument cluster is nice, particularly in properties with a number of drivers who might need totally different priorities. The topmost display is superb, too – it’s straightforward to make use of and has a house display that’s laid out like a smartphone, and it might retailer seven person profiles to configure as much as 400 totally different person choice parameters. And like many Audi merchandise, the A6 is anticipated to come back with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility because it has already for a few years.
On the underside display is the place features like HVAC, heated and ventilated seats, drive modes, and a few driver help options are configured, together with textual content entry. As display implementations of those controls go, this one is best than most – it offers haptic and acoustic suggestions in order that you understand in the event you’ve efficiently hit the a part of the display you have been hoping for with out essentially having to look away from the street.
Nevertheless, I wasn’t in a position to get an excellent learn on whether or not it might grow to be simpler to be taught the areas of the necessary options over time, to mitigate the stab-and-miss issue. On my transient check drive, I didn’t have a lot luck.
Attention-grabbing driver help options
Full packaging particulars can be introduced at a later date, however there are a few cool driver help options particularly value drawing consideration towards: the lively cruise management has a predictive effectivity help system that makes use of GPS and street signal information to plot out extra environment friendly drive patterns, and narrow-road help will gently countersteer away when a lane turns into partially blocked or the automobile comes too near the sting – a boon on these tight Douro Valley roads.
Whereas its exterior styling stays conservative and its prolonged display format might require a studying curve, those that prioritize drive expertise will wish to give the A6 a protracted and laborious look. Regardless of in any other case being a really conventional mid-size luxurious sedan, its clean and responsive powertrain – notably when outfitted with the air suspension and all-wheel steering – set it as much as be among the many best-handling autos in its class. And as a bonus, it must be good on fuel, too.
The 2019 Audi A6 is because of arrive in dealerships within the fourth quarter of this 12 months.