This is next year's new Audi A6, scooped as it underwent testing in Germany. We'll see the new A6 saloon for the first time at the 2011 Geneva motor show, when it'll square up to the BMW 5-series, Mercedes E-class and Jaguar XF. They're all much newer and, finally, the ageing A6 will endeavour to play catch up.
The new A6 is based on Audi's MLB, or modular longitudinal matrix. It's a fifth cheaper to build than the outgoing PL platform and enables a host of new tech to be fitted.
For instance, all Quattro versions will come with a new seven-speed twin-clutch transmission, while the full auto option now jumps to an eight-speed configuration.What are the engines in the new A6?
Petrol engines are likely to kick off with a 180bhp 2.0 TFSI four-cylinder, while a brace of V6s – a 201bhp 2.8-litre FSI and supercharged 296bhp 3.0-litre TFSI – provide oomph for executive buyers.
Diesel fans can pick a 201bhp or 242bhp version of the 3.0-litre TDI, while a smaller 2.0-litre TDI is inevitably likely to hog the bulk of European sales. Hybrid versions with lithium ion batteries are in the pipeline too, plus performance versions continuing the S6 and RS6 tradition.What about the new Audi A6 Avant?
The estate A6 arrives later in 2011 at next autumn's Frankfurt motor show and, according to our sources, the Allroad version follows in 2012. Like the saloon, the Avant will use a high level of aluminium in its construction, which helps shave off around 150kg from the kerbweight.
The new A6 Avant will remain one of the biggest wagons in this executive class. With the rear seats in place, load space stands at 600 litres, climbing to 1650 if you fold the rear pews. That neatly slots the Avant between the 5-series Touring and E-class estate. However, neither rival can match the Audi's planned sliding rear bench that lets passengers adjust their seating position.So what's the relationship between A6 and A7?
The new Audi A7 is a hatchback version of the A6. Think A5 Sportback to A4 saloon – the same architecture, just with swoopier bodywork and a fastback rear end. The A7 goes on sale in January 2011 from £42,925.