UK Car Review
Audi A
6  Quattro 2.7
Quad cam 30 Valve Twin Turbo

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The Audi A6 comes in many guises from a piddling 1.8 motored petrol or 1.9 TDi Diesel item with reasonable performance to the S6 with a bombshell 340bhp of tarmac wrinkling power. 

Somewhere just above the middle lives this, the 2.7T Quattro with a plethora of engines, fuels, drive-lines and two bodies to choose from.  Does this offer a nice balance of the A6 virtues or is it just lost in a never ending range of choices and options?

Audi A6 Quattro

Model tested registered 2000.
Covered 76,000 miles.

 

Well, it looks like an A6 - all smooth and curved. Very good-looking it is too but then so is the 1.8 Turbo or 1.9TDi. You will be hard pressed to tell the difference to be frank. Whip off the 2.7T badge from the rear and you would have to be very eagle-eyed indeed to identify it. Even crawling around on your hands and knees will only glean the fact that it's some form of V6 with its twin tail pipes and it is a Quattro if you spot the rear drive shafts. But that’s okay by me as it makes the car look a little more anonymous and, with its Group 18 insurance, that’s no bad thing. I'm perfectly happy to have you think this is a TDI when you're sitting beside me at the traffic lights and there is a one car gap ahead.

If you expect piped leather and half a ton of Amazonian rain forest to make you feel at home then you will feel a little disappointed by the New Age Teutonic master class that awaits you inside the car. However,  you will soon come to appreciate the perfection of its simple, yet lovingly crafted, design.

Internally, the 2.7 is fairly Audi standard but that doesn't make it any the worse as the A6 has one of the best modern interiors that money can buy. The level of thought that Audi has built in makes many other car interior designers look like a cross between Bob the Builder and Changing Rooms and the quality of the materials is a step up from virtually anything you can buy for less than the cost of a house.

 

The Recaro leather seats greet your rear invitingly. They are firm-to-hard as you first sit in but faultless for the rest of your motoring time. The wheel has just a slight give to the surface, inviting you to hold it for long sustained periods.

The black leather may give the impression that the interior will be a bit dim come nightfall but it's only in darkness that you can survey the extent of the A6's wiring loom as it snakes around the car lighting up everything you may ever want to touch. Air vent adjusters with back light controls are just the start, switch on the lights and marvel at the dim red glow that emits from all sectors of the car. You may, as I do, find it entertaining in a sort of jet-liner-cockpit sort of fashion. On the other hand, you may find it over the top with more bulbs on display than the Griswald family Christmas.

The dash is well stock and nicely laid out in simple but effective style, conveying all the information most could want including the current radio station.

The door pockets are split fold-out for those of us who collect rubbish in our cars but it would be a shame to fill such a lovely thing up with wrappers and cast offs, perhaps we could have some designer rubbish as an option.

The cup holder works in the most amazing multi folding fashion though I think if we are admiring the engineering of the cup holder then we are starting to get a little anally retentive.

Best of all, the Aluminium trim strips are cold to the touch which suggests that there is actually some metal content or Audi has developed some new wonder plastic to tease our senses with.

It is touches like the foot mats held in place on pegs that really moves it up the thought scale.

The interior really is a wonder to behold if for nothing more than its ability to convey a sense of luxury without resorting to wood, real or otherwise.

 


The steering wheel is lovely. Air bag or not, this one is not spoilt by the safety device and the small thick rimmed item proudly displays a large Auto Union badge to reinforce it's nature.

 

Ermmm - loaded is the phrase, I believe. 

It has just about all you can think of plus more such as illuminated vanity mirror, heated mirrors (though probably not the interior ones), external temp gauge, individual reading lights for 4 passengers - the list is endless - Pas, ABS, ESP, LSD, twin airbags, side air bags, Ice system with about 12 speakers and a bass tube.

This saloon does not get the roof bars of the estate and does not seem to be able to take them either but I don’t think you or Audi want this thing steaming down the Autobahn with a roof rack full of gear with its 150mph top end.

 

The Gearbox boasts 6 forward ratios, each easily accessible via the slick light change and weightless clutch. Top supplies around 30mph per thousand revs which is hardly a mountainous overdrive so you may think that this engine lacking in bottom and mid range.

You would be very wrong. 30 valves and four cams allow the mixture to ease through empowered as it is by two small turbos, yes it's another bi turbo motor. 

Most modern makers could extract 190-200bhp out of a V6 like this without a turbo so the turbo adds a nominal 50-60bhp top end grunt. Not really that big a boost if we are honest but the turbos are working from way down the rev range and give a seamless feel to the power-band. It will tick along at 30mph in top gear and still respond to a prod of the gas pedal with a smooth whoosh of instant grunt. In high gear it is akin to the sensation of taking off in a plane. In the lower gears it pulls right round to the red line without hesitation.

The motor itself is so short and wide angled in the V that it looks almost square.  Audi V6s have always had renowned smoothness, this one adds real grunt as well. Yet it's still relatively under-stressed which should be good for longevity.

It can pull over 30mpg at a cruise but the 17mpg-town figure is probably nearer the truth. Over 20mpg is easy to attain, over 25 requires just a little self-restraint.

The sound it produces is well damped inside the car where it is barely audible. From the outside it growls with a deep meaty intent. At a standstill the noise is the only thing which may just give the under-bonnet beast away.

Quattro with ESP, Quad discs with ABS - it sounds good before you even start moving. 

The first nice surprise is the quality of the ride which has been criticised in models like the A4. It may be a touch fidgety but that is as much a reflection of our poor roads as it is the car.

Still, you do not buy into the Quattro name for the featherbed ride. You do it to grip masses of total tarmac tearing tenaciousness. Quattro systems have masses of grip and the slimier the roads the more obvious the capacity. You can, I'm told, if you push really really hard, get the car sliding, at which point it's pot luck whether it’s the front, rear or both ends that are past their limits. The aptly named ESP makes this scenario a distant far off speck on the horizon which few will ever arrive at.

Want to launch really hard from the line? Four wheel drive and traction control has to be the most complete and easiest way of achieving it. Add in fantastic low end and mid range torque and you really would need to be numb-headed to mess up a fast get away, in which case perhaps an Auto-box may help you.

To be honest, on dry roads the ESP alone would probably be enough to keep it under control but, as the roads get worse, the Quattro starts to earn its keep.

Please Note: black ice allows grip by no form or set-up of rubber, differentials or drive-lines so this is not carte blanch to hare around when the temp gauge sinks below zero. The external temp gauge should remind you of this whilst you are securely and comfortably closeted in the cockpit.

Steering, like all the other controls, is feather light. Too light for me, really. There is little in the way of feedback or sensation from the wheel, revolve it a little and the car turns a little, revolve it a lot and the car turns a lot with perfect 1 to 1 linear perfection. But the lack of feedback means you really do have to trust the Quattro to take car of you as you cannot gauge the road surface. For most of us this is fine as the car is far cleverer and more adept at driving than we will ever be. It is a standard Audi trait and one which I will complain about eternally. On the other hand, when you are just tootling around from A to B as we all do 99.9% of the time, it is a perfect, if somewhat soulless, companion.

 

With Group 18 insurance, the last thing you want is a theft sending your no-claims AWOL. VIN, remote central locking, deadlocks, alarm, locking fuel cap and wheel nuts help keep it safe when parked up and its anonymous looks help too. So top marks to Audi there.

Multiple air bags, side impact bars and seat belt pre-tensioners, head restraints and child locks help out in a crash,. However, a crash rating of three stars is not startling but I suspect many cars are engineered to defeat the test as much as being a safe all-rounder so it would not worry me overly. 
For a big car with four wheel drive, six gears and twin turbo V6, its kerbweight is remarkably low, which helps with performance, handling and economy but won't help in an impact with a Range Rover.

 

Allowing for the manual box ,two and a half hundred horses, 150mph + really has never been so easy to drive. It really IS the proverbial doddle. You could drive this in slippers and your passengers would never know it had anything remarkable under the bonnet. Press your foot down and they would soon be very aware of its potential.

But speed is not all there is to the A6 as it is also a big practical saloon, spacious inside with a boot like a pirate's cave. Open the lid and what looks quite average seems to go on forever like an endless black pothole.

Insurance, petrol, and maybe the servicing regime are the only downsides I can see to the car. I do not think it will be cheap to run but it could be oh- so-worth-it. But it's not really a car for those who like to shout about the size of their equipment, it's more for those of you who like to sit back with a smug grin, waiting to surprise people.

This really is a lovely car, it's just a shame that we all go mad for used A4s because I personally think the A6 is now a much nicer motor.

The 2.7T Quattro badge is seen and not outspoken but the twin exhausts are unseen and very noticed through their harmonious nature.

 

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