Suave and shapely, the Audi A6 maintains its classic sport saloon proportions and as expected has plenty of performance to boot.Suave and shapely, the Audi A6 maintains its classic sport saloon proportions and as expected has plenty of performance to boot.

Measuring 4,92 m in length, 1,86 m in width and 1,46 m in height, the wheelbase is up to 83 mm longer than that of its predecessor. Shoulder room has increased by more than 20 mm at the front and six mm at the rear.

Classic Audi sport saloon proportions are maintained with the high waistline, curvaceous lines and sporty proportions lending the car a dynamic stance.

At the front, the trapezoidal single-frame grille indicative of the new family face of Audi has been added. At the rear, the wraparound tail-light cluster hints at the fun side of this otherwise serious saloon.

There is a choice of four engines. The 130 kW 2,4 V6 is the entry-level offering with maximum torque of 230 N.m. Next in line is the 3,2 V6 producing 188 kW and 330 N.m while the flagship 4,2 V8 produces a whopping 246 kW of power and 420 N.m of torque. The solitary diesel variant is the torquey 3,0-litre V6 TDI with its 165 kW complemented by a very healthy 450 N.m of torque.

The petrol V6s are available with multitronic and manual transmissions and the turbodiesel with manual and tiptronic transmissions. The V8 will be equipped with tiptronic.

The torsional rigidity has been improved by more than 34 per cent. The A6 uses an upgraded version of the four-link front suspension and the trapezoidal rear suspension carried over from the bigger A8. Called Audi's Dynamic Suspension, this combination is used in both the front-wheel drive and quattro models. Adaptive air suspension is optional from 2005.

On the inside, the centre console is high and wide and within easy reach of the front occupants. Audi's new steering wheel is introduced in the A6 with the visual theme of the single-frame grille carried over onto the hub.

The answer to BMW's iDrive, Audi's Multi Media Interface, is available in "basic plus" guise on the 2,4-litre version and comprises a 16,5-cm monochrome display with integrated radio and CP player with ten speakers. The complete MMI system with full-colour LCD screen is available as standard on all other A6 models.

Automatic air conditioning is standard with separate air distribution and temperature control for the front occupants. Further standard features are Servotronic steering, an electromechanical parking brake as well as a light and rain sensor.

Safety equipment includes the latest generation of ESP, brake assist and Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), and a total of eight airbags. The two full-size front airbags are activated in two stages, depending on the severity of an accident. Active front head restraints fitted as standard help to protect the occupants in a collision from behind.