The new A6 is a tech powerhouse, but can it save the sedan?
Audi made the interesting decision to reveal the sleek A7 Sportback before showing the more conventional A6 sedan. Now Audi has pulled the sheet off the all-new 2019 A6, which is geared to do battle with the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class. Trouble is, sedans like these are currently losing out to trendy crossovers and luxury pickup trucks. The refreshed A6 benefits from new drivetrains, autonomous driving functionality, and an impressive, new interior. So will all of Audi's hard work be enough to save the luxury sedan?
Without driving the new A6, our first guess would be yes. The previous-generation A6 was a class leader when it was revealed back in 2011, but eventually became outdated next to redesigned versions of the 5 Series and E-Class. For the first time in a few years, all three of these cars have been redesigned at the same time, which means they can be judged on a level playing field. The biggest headlines for the A6 are refreshed styling, a new interior, new engines, and new technology features. Since no one has really had a chance to drive the A6 yet, we thought we'd take a look at what's new with the car and how it stacks up against its main rivals from BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
Starting off with the styling, the A6 adopts cues from the A7. In the previous generation, the A6 looked bland next to the curvy A7. This new A6 sedan looks like it deserves to be in the same beauty pageant as its Sportback brother. Audi, BMW, and Mercedes have all been a bit restrained with the styling of their midsize sedans, but we'd still have to give the edge to the Mercedes. In our opinion, the E-Class has the most elegant lines, but the A6 is a close second. The 5 Series is just too bulbous to be as pretty as the other two, though your opinion may differ from ours. The interior is a different story.
The interior of the E-Class was our favorite in the segment, but the A6 has swooped in and stolen our affection. The Mercedes' cabin looks remarkably high-tech thanks to a lovely dual-screen layout. So what's better than two screens? How about three? The A6 benefits from Audi's Virtual Cockpit display, which replaces traditional analog gauges. Audi's MMI system was never the best in class, but the system has been replaced by dual touch screens. We've seen dual screens done poorly in the Acura TLX, but we've also seen them work well in the Range Rover Velar. We'll give Audi the benefit of the doubt because these touch screens look like a nice improvement.
Under the hood, the 3.0-liter supercharged V6 has been replaced by a new turbocharged unit. Power is up from 311 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque to 340 hp and 368 lb-ft of torque. As with the previous generation, the A6 uses a slightly less powerful version of the engine in the smaller S4. Power goes out to Quattro AWD (now standard) through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. Zero-60 takes 5.1 seconds, which is slower than the BMW 540i (4.7 seconds) and the Mercedes E43 AMG (4.5 seconds). There's also a diesel engine on offer, but it won't be sold in the US. The Audi is not the performance benchmark of the segment, but it never really was in the first place.
The Audi will seek to differentiate itself from the the pack with its impressive technology. The A6 uses five radar sensors, five cameras, twelve ultrasonic sensors and a laser scanner just for its Park Assist Package. All of these external sensors and cameras add up to help the A6 navigate through traffic and provide gentle steering intervention to keep it in a lane. It may not have level three autonomous technology like its big brother, the A8, but the A6 can still park itself and offer partial self-driving. We'll have to wait until Audi releases full pricing details and standard features before painting a full picture of the A6. Still, the new A6 looks like a technological powerhouse in the luxury sedan segment.