Naturally enough, thereís been a changing of the guard this year in some of Australiaís Best Cars 15 categories, with a number of worthy new winners emerging. But a number of the usual suspects have risen like cream to the top yet again. The A6 3.0 TDI Quattro, albeit a new model since 2010, is in the latter category.
The new seventh-generation A6 showcases plenty of Audiís technological innovation and engineering skills. But as their lowly pricing scores reveal they donít come cheap, even if they arenít the dearest in the class, and prices have risen substantially for the new model.
On the plus side, as befits luxury models, the standard features and safety scores are high, with both scores equal best-in-class. Eight airbags are standard including side airbags for front and outer rear seating positions and full length curtains.
For those looking for additional creature comforts and more advanced safety and driver assistance features, options are plentiful but, as is typical of the class, venturing there isnít for the faint-hearted with some wallet-wilting prices. Options include sports suspension, adaptive air suspension, head-up display, sports differential, night vision assistant (uses thermal imaging to detect and alert the driver to animals and pedestrians), advanced lighting systems, adaptive cruise control, Bang and Olufsen 1,200 watt audio system and four-zone air conditioning.
There are three engines currently in the range, but we score the volume selling models, the 3.0-litre TFSI petrol and the 3.0-litre TDI turbo-diesel. The V6 petrol is now supercharged rather than turbo-fed and compared to it predecessor delivers an extra 7 kW and 20Nm. The V6 diesel is now lighter and punches out an extra 4 kW. Claimed torque is a muscular 500Nm. Both are mated to smooth, slick-shifting seven-speed dual clutch transmissions instead of the previous six-speed auto. Combined with the light-weight body structure, both engines endow the A6 with cracking performance for near best in class scores.
Buyers are becoming increasingly attracted to modern generation diesels with their refined and fuel miserly ways. And Audiís 3.0TDI doesnít disappoint on either count, making it an ideal fit for this executive express. Only minimal background diesel clatter at idle hints that itís a compression ignition powerplant.
Ride quality is important in this class and the A6 proves composed and comfortable, albeit not quite a match for the supple cosseting ways of the class-leading XF Jaguar. Handling-wise though, itís the A6 with its nose in front. The German sedan delivers sure-footed all-wheel drive grip matched to accurate and consistent, if slightly dull, steering for a top-of-the-class handling score.
Audiís fit and finish is something of a benchmark, even in the luxury car class. And A6 has a quality look and feel and attention to detail that should please fussier buyers. With this in mind, the 3year/unlimited kilometre warranty looks a little underdone, even if itís on par with its peers.
With design and function and on-road scores all well above average, A6 again reigns supreme in this class.
Audi A6 3.0 TDI Quattro
Jaguar XF S Luxury
2010 - AUDI A6 3.0 TDI Quattro
2009 - Audi A6 TFSI Quattro