Audi A6 Avant 2.0 TDI Ultra (2015) review

Published:21 October 2014

Audi A6 has a (very slightly) different face in time for 2015
  • At a glance
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5

By James Taylor

CAR's deputy features editor, automotive design graduate, Radical champ

By James Taylor

CAR's deputy features editor, automotive design graduate, Radical champ

You’d have to be a champion Spot the Difference player to notice, but the Audi A6 has been given a gentle facelift for 2015.

The bits you’d need to circle on the before and after pictures are a tweaked grille and more angular nostrils on subtly re-profiled bumpers, along with rejigged sills and different tailpipes. Audi’s been at the headlights too, with either xenon or LED lamps now standard depending on which trim you go for. The latter don’t half look mean, giving the A6 a frowny-browed expression that should help sales reps carve an even more effective path through the outside lane.

Piquing company car drivers’ interests further will be the news of yet lower CO2 figures for the diesel Ultra model, driven here in Avant wagon format and high-end S-line trim.

How much greener is the 2015 Audi A6 Ultra?

The Ultra tag is reserved for whichever version of each Audi model chugs out the least CO2. The pre-facelift A6 Ultra was already pretty saintly on the emissions front but if the new car’s specced the right way you’ll now see carbon emissions as low as 109g/km, dropping it a percentage bracket in company car tax and down a notch for VED too. Fuel economy’s claimed to be around the mid-60s.

Our test car’s not quite in the optimum spec for efficiency, with the bulkier (but far more useful) Avant estate body and bigger S-line wheels bumping the CO2 up to 115g/km – still pretty good for a relatively heavy car with 295lb ft of torque on tap from its 2.0-litre diesel engine.

It doesn’t particularly feel like an economy model. It’s not a performance car, but it’s still as fast as you’d reasonably need on the road. In other good news, although S-line spec means 18-inch wheels and a 20mm lower ride height the car rode entirely smoothly. Seems the days of spine shattering Audis are more or less gone.

‘Acoustic glazing’ helps keep more road noise out than before, and seems to do its job pretty well – the A6 is church mouse-quiet at a cruise.

How have the efficiency gains been made?

Much of it’s down to the introduction of Audi’s twin-clutch S-tronic seven-speed transmission in place of the old Multitronic CVT unit. Mind you, curiously it sometimes still feels a bit like a CVT as it’s so keen to kick down and hang on to low gears that the engine’s often revving away for longer than you’d like. Shifts are super-smooth though, and there’s a clever freewheeling function to help save fuel further when you’re off the throttle.

An auto ’box suits the A6’s laid back character far better than a manual, and in fact the car uses less fuel and chucks out less CO2 with the S-tronic option than it does with the regular six-speed manual. Laziness pays off handsomely in this case.

Another way Audi’s managed to make the car less wasteful is with innovative GFRP (glass fibre reinforced polymer) springs (fitted to Avant Ultra models only) which weigh a paltry 1.6kg each, a full 40% lighter than normal steel springs.

Anything else I should know about the new Audi A6?

It’s the usual facelift drill: as well as a fresher face and improved engines there a few bits of new tech to bolster the equipment list.

An uber-high quality, relaxing cabin always been one of the A6’s key strengths – you can feel your blood pressure lowering as you climb aboard – so the interior design team didn’t have a very long job list. A few more bits of chrome, a different gear lever and four zones for the climate control instead of two are the main highlights.

The peekaboo multimedia screen which slides out of the dash on start-up now boasts more powerful graphics for the sat-nav system along with 4G connectivity for music streaming and the like. The lane departure warning system has a more sophisticated side assist function that uses radar to make sure you don’t chop anyone’s nose off when changing lanes and the optional night vision camera can recognise and highlight shadowy pedestrians more easily.

Start-stop kicks in earlier than before and you don’t need to keep your foot on the brake to stop the engine restarting before you’re ready, so you don’t blind drivers behind at night with your brake lights. They’re all unusually well-mannered, these updates.

Verdict

A subtle round of updates for a subtle car but all of them well worthwhile, keeping the A6 fighting fit against its 5-series nemesis.

Specs

Price when new: £33,485
On sale in the UK: December 2014
Engine: 1968cc 16v turbodiesel 4-cyl, 187bhp @ 3800-4200rpm, 295lb ft @ 1750-3000rpm
Transmission: Seven-speed S-tronic dual-clutch, front-wheel drive
Performance: 8.5sec 0-62mph, 140mph, 64.2mpg, 114g/km CO2
Weight / material: 1800kg / steel and aluminium
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 4943/1847/1461

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  • The diesel A6 Ultra is the most fuel-efficient version, available as a saloon or estate (Avant in Audi speak)
  • Certain Avant models get clever lightweight GFRP springs in place of regular steel items
  • Sensibly, they've not mucked about much with the A6 interior. It's still great
  • S-tronic auto gearbox actually improves fuel consumption
  • Smarter graphics for the sat-nav display are another subtle improvement
  • Even in larger-wheeled, stiffer-sprung S-line form the A6's ride quality was comfortable
  • It's a tail-lift as well as a facelift - the rear lamps have been altered
  • If you opt for the LED Matrix headlights the indicators swipe across the lamp rather than wink on and off
  • The Audi A6 Avant isn't the most practical estate car in the world but it's a better bet than the saloon for family buyers
  • Load area not the biggest but still a very usable space
  • Loads of head and leg room in the Audi A6 Avant

By James Taylor

CAR's deputy features editor, automotive design graduate, Radical champ

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