AS much as the lines between the various vehicle segments blur with the arrival of more crossovers, the executive-saloon segment remains important, especially to the German Three, and very competitive even if it is diminishing in size. Crucial to success in this segment are entry-level offerings to attract both fleet buyers and private purchasers for whom value is as important as badge appeal. BMW has a 520i and 520d, Jaguar boasts a newly launched XF 2,2D and Mercedes-Benz does brisk business with its E200 CGI and E250 CDI.
Audi was relatively late to local shores with its contender; the A6 2,0T FSI reached our market only in mid-2010, but at a very competitive R412 105. The A6 range has since been renewed (of which we have a model in our fleet), but the previous-generation model remained a competitive package right to the end, and would make a sound buy in the second-hand car market.
If only the new-car market shared our enthusiasm. A6 sales in 2011 were just 267 compared with 1 350 5 Series models and 1 650 E-Classes. Perhaps this trend will change in 2012 with the new model, which shows improvements all-round and is a strong competitor to the 5 and E.
But back to our A6. A silver 2,0T FSI arrived in December 2010 complete with the Multitronic transmission and S-line styling package, and a black leather-trimmed interior with silver highlights. Most of CAR’s testers agreed the elegant lines have aged well, no doubt because of Audi’s understated (some would say dull) design philosophy.
The cabin showed a similarly restrained style, but there were no concerns about quality; nary a rattle disturbed the calm in the cockpit. The clean, uncluttered layout meant it took me only a few days before using the controls became intuitive. Beside the quality, I found the best interior features to be the excellent use of space and comfortable front seats. Some passengers complained that the rear bench was too firm, but no qualms arose regarding space, even with three abreast.
Surprisingly, the front seats on our vehicle had to be adjusted manually. Clearly, this was one of the compromises made to keep the vehicle price competitive, but I did miss having electric controls and found the adjusters clunky.
As you would expect, a standard-fit navigation system was also absent in this base model. Conspicuous by their absence were cupholders for the rear passengers. This was one of the first things I checked when the replacement A6 arrived but, surprisingly, this has not been remedied on the new model.
One of the main advantages of the previous A6 was the cavernous boot. At 480 dm3, it was large enough to make family holiday trips without towing a trailer possible. Interestingly, the new A6 sits on the under-pinnings as the excellent A7 Sportback and one of the com-promises has been in the size of the boot, which is 100 dm3 smaller than the model under review.
Of the approximately 20 000 km travelled, about a quarter of this distance was covered on longer trips out of Cape Town. Early in the year, a few short trips into the Wine-lands were enough to show that the Audi A6 is at its best on the open road. Around town, the Multitronic continuously variable transmission took some getting used to, both in terms of the way the power from the four-cylinder 125 kW petrol engine was delivered to the front wheels and the engine drone.
The tried-and-trusted 2,0-litre direct-injection turbopetrol replaced the normally aspirated 2,4-litre V6 engine in the base model when the A6 was facelifted in 2009. This Audi is not a small car, but with 125 kW and 280 N.m between 1 800 and 4 200 r/min, the powerplant got the vehicle up to speed fairly effortlessly. Swifter progress required only a touch of the shifter or column-mounted paddles. Our June 2009 road test produced performance figures of 9,59 seconds for the zero-to-100 km/h sprint and 31 seconds for the kilometre-marker.
The A6 came alive at cruising velocities. On the open road, the ride was composed thanks to sensibly chosen 17-inch wheels on plump tyres, and noise intrusion was kept to a minimum. Whether it was fully laden for a family trip from Cape Town to Plettenberg Bay, or two-up for a weekend getaway to Paternoster, the A6 impressed. Towards the end of its time with us, the A6 completed it longest trip when it accompanied a flurry of sportscars on the Performance Shootout from Cape Town via Bloemfontein and Durban, to Johannesburg and back. Every person who spent time behind the wheel was impressed with the vehicle’s driving dynamics and its ability to keep up with the fleet of performance cars without too much effort. The CAR team was equally enamoured with the fuel consumption, which was as low as 8,5 litres/100 km during extended cruising. This is much better than the overall test average of 10,23 litres/100 km.
In November last year, the A6 went in for its 15 000 km service. The service experience delivered by Audi Claremont could not have been better. Booking and check-in were near-effortless and the service adviser kept me updated on progress throughout the day. Work demands meant I was unable to collect the vehicle before closing time, which I expected to be an issue; instead, the service team was happy to leave the vehicle with security for after-hours collection and to sort out any paperwork the next day. Total service costs listed were R960 (covered by the maintenance plan), of which R120 was for filters and consumables and the balance of R840 for labour.
The Audi A6 2,0T FSI Multitronic was a competent entry-level model in a range that deserved greater success. If price, space and status appeal are on your
list of desirables when shopping for a car, don’t forget this
model; there are a few used examples for sale at prices that certainly demand a second look at the merits of an entry-level executive saloon.
*Dealer quote; incl. one-year licence fee
**Including registration and licence, but excluding insurance, depreciation and insurance costs
*As recommended by manufacturer; incl. VAT