2019 Audi A6 First Review
- All-new 8th-generation Audi A6
- New turbocharged V6 with 7-speed dual-clutch transmission
- Improved comfort and handling
- Standard 48-volt mild hybrid
- MMI touch response replaces rotary infotainment controller
- Loaded with driver-assistance features
- LED headlights
- Pricing starts at $59,895, including $995 destination
Audi calls the 2019 A6 an 8th-generation car, tracing this midsize luxury sedan’s heritage all the way back to the Audi 100 that made its global debut in late 1968. Although the A6 sedan hasn’t been selling very well in the U.S. (only 5,821 A6s and S6s were sold through the first 10 months of 2018), a midsize sedan remains important to Audi. For proof, check out the all-new 2019 Audi A6, an all-wheel-drive (AWD) midsize sedan that boasts a new chassis and powertrain, along with the requisite abundance of driver-assistance and safety technologies. While there are numerous rivals in the midsize luxury sedan arena, the Audi A6’s main competition comes from these two class stalwarts: the BMW 5 Series and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class.
How’s the new A6 compare in size?
Compared to the outgoing A6, the new 2019 version is 0.2 inches longer, and it rides on a half-inch-longer wheelbase. Moreover, it’s a half-inch wider than the outgoing model, with a roof that’s 0.4 inches lower but doesn’t feel that way from inside the car. Trunk and interior volumes are roughly the same as before, but overall vehicle weight has increased to 4,266 pounds, a jump of nearly 250 pounds. All in all, the 2019 Audi A6, based on a version of the same rigid platform that underpins its larger A8 sibling, feels roughly the same size as the outgoing car, so it remains a sedan in which two couples would be quite comfortable taking into Los Angeles, perhaps for a show at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.
What’s under the hood?
Last year’s supercharged 3.0-liter V6 with 340 horsepower has been swapped in favor of a new 3.0-liter V6 boosted by a pair of turbochargers nestled in the valley of powerplant, which is mounted longitudinally in the nose of the A6, just ahead of the front axle line. Although this new engine, which puts out 335 horsepower from 5,000 to 6,400 rpm, doesn’t quite match the peak horsepower of the outgoing supercharged V6, it has significantly better torque, with 369 lb-ft arriving at only 1,370 rpm, versus 325 at 2,900 for the supercharged V6. That power is sent to all four of the new A6’s wheels via a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that replaces last year’s traditional 8-speed automatic.
Of note, the 2019 Audi A6 also boasts mild hybrid electric vehicle technology, a 48-volt system with a trunk-mounted lithium-ion battery that powers an integrated starter/generator to smoothen the starts of the automatic start/stop function. The only time the A6’s conventional starter is employed is at initial start-up. Don’t be surprised if the upcoming S6 or RS6 models leverage this new hybrid tech for performance gains, not just smoother automatic starts.
In other important A6 powertrain news, the Quattro AWD system also has been updated. Now called Quattro Ultra, the drive system disconnects drive to the rear wheels when it’s not needed, for added fuel economy. Audi assures us that Quattro Ultra automatically sends power to the rear wheels before a good driver even knows it’s needed. Put another way, it’s more anticipatory than reactive.
What’s inside the new A6?
Open the electrically triggered door latch of the 2019 Audi A6 and you’ll see a driver-focused environment loaded with technology. In this rich and inviting environment trimmed in fine woods and bathed in multiple colors of available ambient lighting, Audi’s all-new MMI Touch Response system has replaced the rotary dial and conventional infotainment controls of the previous A6. MMI features two high-res touch displays with haptic feedback that are designed to be used in much the same way as your smartphone. Get this: MMI Search, based on text input or voice control, will actually ask drivers what temperature they’d like the cabin to be when they say they are cold or hot. An 8.8-inch touch screen is at the top of the center stack, and an 8.1-inch screen is directly below it, controlling the climate and serving as the pad onto which text inputs are drawn with a finger.
While it all works fine (and the pad can decipher poor printing amazingly well), the screen that pops up out of the dash in, say, the Audi Q7, is on a higher plane of sight, and is therefore better at helping drivers keep their eyes on the roads. Also, operating the previous A6’s rotary dial controller seemed easier than looking for the various spots you’ll need to touch on the new A6’s haptic screens, which translates to more unsafe eye-time away from the road. On a positive note, Audi’s 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit, with navigation from Google Maps, is superb, and it’s complemented by a handy, full-color head-up display directly in the driver’s line of sight.
How about driver-assistance technologies?
There are plenty, all based on a central driver-assistance controller that gathers information from up to 24 cameras and sensors that create a digital picture of the A6’s driving environment to help it compare, evaluate and derive strategies for the driver-assistance programs. These include Adaptive Cruise Assist, a “hands-on” system that helps the driver with acceleration and braking to maintain a correct speed and following distance in highway situations that can range from stop-and-go traffic to Autobahn-like speeds of up to 95 mph.
Other notable driver-assistance features on the 2019 Audi A6 include Audi Pre Sense City, which detects people, cyclists or other vehicles in the car’s path and can initiate automatic braking at speeds of up to 52 mph when an accident is deemed imminent. Also available is a top-view camera system that provides a 360-degree view around the A6, plus other available technologies such as Intersection Assist and Turn Assist, Traffic Sign Recognition and Audi Pre Sense Rear, along with Vehicle Exit Warning and Rear Cross Traffic Assist. Those last two items are both part of Audi Side Assist.
How does the A6 drive?
The 2019 Audi A6 -- with its stronger aluminum-and-steel chassis, 5-link front suspension and torquey new turbocharged powertrain -- feels sportier than the previous A6, a real joy on the curvy coastal roads of Northern California. The variable-ratio electric-assist steering is naturally weighted, and in the Dynamic chassis mode, the 7-speed S-Tronic gearbox feels like it reads your mind, shifting (up or down) just before you expect it to. In everyday tooling-around mode, the shifts are so silky as to be almost unnoticeable, but they become reassuringly crisp when driving hard.
Overall grip is excellent, and the A6 interior remains remarkably quiet on various types of roads. Although the longitudinal engine, in classic Audi tradition, is still mounted ahead of the front wheels, Audi says it has been moved rearward a bit for improved weight distribution. Perhaps that’s why the new 2019 Audi A6 acquits itself so nicely on curvy mountain roads yet maintains an impressive level of civility in everyday driving. We didn’t sample an A6 with the optional rear-wheel steering, but we understand that it greatly contributes to high-speed stability while also tightening the car’s turning radius.
Four adults fit well inside this midsize Audi luxury sedan, or five in a pinch, and the rear seatbacks fold forward to increase the A6’s cargo capacity. EPA Combined fuel economy has increased to 25 mpg (up from 23 last year), and premium fuel is required. Neat technologies include active LED headlights and dynamic rear turn signals.
How much does the 2019 Audi A6 cost?
Pricing for the new 2019 Audi A6 starts at $59,895, a figure that includes a destination charge of $995. The better-equipped A6 Premium Plus model, fitted with Matrix Design LED headlights, starts at $63,995. Topping the range is the A6 Prestige, a model boasting high-def versions of the Matrix Design LED headlights and an MSRP of $68,095. Be warned: When this flagship A6 is locked or unlocked, the fast-moving front and rear light animations that happen automatically are bound to impress your neighbors. A 4-cylinder Audi A6 is in the works, but it’s unclear when that lower-priced model will arrive.