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First Drive Review : New Audi A6 Matrix

  • Sep 01, 2015
  • 2519 Views
Audi A6 35 TDI S tronic Matrix DriveThere are 15 spanking new cars in front of us, in the background is the Pichola lake and most of us are fresh from an eventful night spent at The Oberoi Udaivilas. My first visit to the beautiful city of Udaipur, I have not even driven the car I had been ferried here to drive and I am already feeling good! Audi has been betting big on the new A6 saloon: The company took a bold approach with the launch of the car, a 'video press release' via the popular instant messaging application Whatsapp marked its entry into the Indian market. The German carmaker has been trumpeting about the new A6 - the design, the performance and the advanced equipment which set the car apart, we were at Udaipur to put those claims to the test.

I will be honest, there were some things I was sceptical about before the drive. The exterior design may be new but the interiors were not, many of the features on the car were available on the older car too but as optional extras, and only one variant is available (as of writing this review) of the new car. This car, then, is essentially a mid-life facelift – but there were some things that I was excited about.

Exterior Design

Audi A6 35 TDI S tronic Matrix Front and Background

Let's start with the design. It looks so cool! The evening before the drive, there were two units of the car placed at prominent locations at the hotel, one near the lake and one inside the interior courtyard, and it was hard for me to take my eyes off the car. Those LED headlights arrest your gaze, they are so eye-catching that Audi India has decided to name the car after them : this is the Audi A6 35 TDI Matrix. The horizontally placed 'Y-ended' dual-strip LED daytime running lamps add a menacing look the to the saloon, meanwhile the sweeping indicator pattern similar to the higher end models like the R8, add sophistication. The new 'Singleframe' grille now has eight horizontal slats instead of the seven earlier, the Audi logo doesn't stand out as was the case with the earlier car – overall the new grille looks more dynamic while retaining the chrome finish that customers love. The bumper is now more aggressive, the side-intakes and the split-lip give the car a lot of character.

The profile of the car remains the same as before except for the side-skirts and the new 18-inch dual-spoke alloy wheels which are mounted with 245mm-section tyres.

Move to the rear and the split tail-lamps mimic the headlamps. This includes red dual-strip LEDs, dynamic LED indicator strip on the top, LED brake lamps and tiny reverse lamps. Unlike the headlamps, the beautifully designed tail-lamps become more prominent only during low-light conditions. A chrome strip along the bottom of the boot-lid adds a bit of bling at the rear. The rear bumper is slightly redesigned, this includes some new lines and the addition of dual exhausts. The trapezoidal exhausts do look fancy from afar.

Audi A6 35 TDI S tronic Matrix Rear Left Quarter

The new Audi A6 turns heads everywhere it goes. Feel good factor number one, check.

Interior Design and Equipment

Audi A6 35 TDI S tronic Matrix Interior Dashboard Left Angle

At first glance, the interiors of the Audi A6 do not excite. I will use the excuse of design being a subjective matter in this case; but it makes you wonder if Audi should have done more to make the car feel new. There are many interesting features littered around the cabin, but they don't really stand out. The obvious changes are the new wood-finish inlays, a touch-pad on the lower centre console for MMI system, buttons to adjust the front passenger seat on the rear-left door panel and the new gear-lever.

All that said, the cabin of the new Audi A6 is a good place to be in, it is airy, the materials used feel top-notch both to look at and to the touch, and there are many neat touches which will make you feel important. The dashboard design is the same as before, save for the new matte-wood inlays. The steering wheel design is the same as before too, with integrated multimedia and voice-command buttons. The instrument cluster design is the same as before but the multi-information display has been changed. The quality of the screen is better and it also has more display options including a very intuitive navigation display. I found the navigation display especially helpful, I need not have to look all the way to the 8-inch central display every time I needed to check if I was on the right route.

Audi A6 35 TDI S tronic Matrix Interior Steering Wheel

Talking of the 8-inch central screen, it is your window to the advanced MMI system. This along with the MMI control panel allows you to change many things related to the car, connect your phone for telephony or music streaming, access the in-built multimedia system which plays from either the in-built 10GB memory or streams from the radio, access and use the very-well designed navigation system, and park safely thanks to the front and rear parking sensor display and rear parking-camera display. The 14-speaker, 600W, 5.1-channel Bose surround sound system that is offered as standard has a brilliant output. The system, when connected to an Android or an Apple device, can also trigger specific functions of the phone via 'OK Google' or 'Siri' respectively. Rear passengers can access the MMI system via a dedicated remote which is placed in the rear armrest; connect the optional rear-seat entertainment screens and you have the perfect setup for a luxurious chauffeur-experience.

The front seats are comfortable and can be adjusted electronically for the best seating posture. Both seats get electronically adjustable lumbar adjust which certainly make sitting in them more comfortable, especially on longer journeys. The rear seats are best suited for two passengers, the centre armrest does intrude into the back of the central passenger. The front passenger seat can be pushed forward via buttons on the left-rear door for more legroom, though there was enough roof at the back with the front seats adjusted for a 5.8-foot person.

Audi A6 35 TDI S tronic Matrix Interior Reverse Camera Display

 

The four-zone climate-control is very effective; there are four vents at the front on the dashboard, the rear passengers get two vents on the lower-central unit and a vent each on the B-pillars. The cabin remained chilled even after multiple opening/closing of the doors, we had to get out and take photos of the car whenever we got the chance after all! The rear passengers can also get respite from the harsh sun thanks to the manually deployable side-window shades or the automatic rear-windshield shade. If you want to let in more of the sunshine and fresh-air on the other hand, there is a large openable sunroof over the front cabin.

The luggage compartment has a 520-litre capacity; the loading lip is high but the storage space is intrusion-less. You can also open the boot-lid by swaying your foot under the rear bumper, which can be helpful if your hands are full. Nets are provided to keep smaller items stationary. The boot also holds a 145mm-section 20-inch space-saver tyre.

Engine, Transmission and Handling

Audi A6 35 TDI S tronic Matrix Engine Bay

Let's get to the most exciting part now. The driving. Finding the right driving position is easy, the seat can be adjusted for travel, height, recline, and lumbar support, while the thick-rimmed 4-spoke steering-wheel can be electrically adjusted for reach and rake. Keep your foot on the brake, make sure the gear-lever is on 'Park' or 'Neutral' and press the start/stop button. The engine rumbles into life and settles down into a nice thrum; that is what you feel when sitting inside there is a fair bit of clatter on the outside.

The new Audi A6 has an unladen weight of 1830 Kg and is powered by a turbocharged, in-line four-cylinder, 2.0-litre (1968cc to be exact) diesel motor with power sent to the front wheels via a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. With a peak power of 190PS and peak torque of 400Nm, the Audi A6 is not a scorcher. The car is propelled from standstill to a 100 km/h in 8.5 seconds according to Audi, but it feels much faster. And that is thanks to the brilliant S-tronic dual-clutch transmission. It masks any deficiencies of the engine by shifting fast and keeping the engine in its sweet spot, especially when you set the engine to dynamic mode and keep the transmission in the sports mode. You can use the gear-lever or the steering mounted paddles to control the transmission. Two gripes here: 1) the gear-lever looks low-rent, it doesn't have the same feel as the older, boat-throttle lever-like gear-lever. 2) the transmission automatically goes into sport-mode from manual-mode if you don't operate the paddles constantly, it did this a couple of times while I was going around some long-corners and it was irritating. I found it best to keep the transmission in the drive-mode or sports-mode for best driving-feel depending on whether I wanted to enjoy a smooth cruise or drive aggressively, respectively.

Audi A6 35 TDI S tronic Matrix Front Left Quarter Dynamic

The engine note is also pleasantly surprising when pushed: it sounds sporty! You can enjoy a fast-cruise too, set the engine to comfort and it is almost impossible to hear the motor even though you may be doing triple-digit speeds.

The new Audi A6 is offered with an adaptive air-suspension system as standard, which can be set in comfort-mode, dynamic-mode or set to auto-mode. I didn't feel much difference in the different modes, the suspension felt supple and forgiving even in the sport-setting. There was an instant where me and a fellow reviewer noticed an oncoming speed-breaker a little too late, but we didn't feel a thing; he described the feeling like so, “it was as if the speed breaker had been flattened by the car”. The suspension works noiselessly at most times, and that adds to the comfort levels of the cabin.

Audi A6 35 TDI S tronic Matrix Rear Left Quarter Dynamic

The steering-wheel is the weakest link in the package. Even when set to dynamic the steering wheel doesn't feel connected, it just becomes very heavy and that detracts you from driving hard around tight corners. Audi had set us a route through some nice twisty roads, and they were best enjoyed when the steering was in comfort-mode. Meanwhile, even though the car is front-wheel-driven the mechanical grip it has is phenomenal. The 245mm-section tyres have brilliant grip at almost all moments (forced launch-starts and aggressive driving over loose surfaces can get the front wheels to squeal), even with the ESC switched off. The ventilated front brakes and solid-disc rear brakes are very re-assuring, coupled with the non-intrusive ABS, brake-distribution and brake assist the A6 feels a very safe car to drive even when driven like a mad-man.

Verdict

Audi A6 35 TDI S tronic Matrix Tail-lamp

In conclusion, the Audi A6 35 TDI S tronic Matrix is a jack of many trades and master of most of them. Positives include the exterior design, the equipment available as standard, the addition of a dual-clutch transmission and the respect that the Audi badge brings. The only thing that would have made the new A6 even better was if the car had received slightly more updated interiors. Most owners of the new A6 will spend most of the time in the back seat, this car was never meant to be sporty anyway, the un-communicative steering can be looked-over.

To answer the question if the new A6 is now the best in its class, we will have to do a comprehensive competition check. Stay tuned!
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