• All-new platform
  • 3.0-liter Turbocharged V6
  • 4-cylinder engine option later
  • 7-speed dual clutch gearbox

 

Slinging the all-new 2019 Audi A6 around the endlessly twisting roads of Portugal’s Douro Valley, it feels like the midsize luxury staple has something new to prove. Long one of Audi’s best sellers, the A6 has taken a sales hit from high-end SUVs including its own stablemates, the Q5 and Q7. Audi is presenting the 2019 A6 as a platform for contemporary style, modern infotainment and assist systems, more than a little bit of sports car-like performance, and—quite literally—quiet luxury. 

Launching in Europe with an additional pair of available diesel engines, the U.S. will initially see only a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 producing 340 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. Expect a 4-cylinder engine option to become available in America after the V6 models start to roll out. Like the A7 and A8, the new A6 is also a mild hybrid, with a 48-volt main electrical system purpose-built to aid efficiency. A belt alternator starter connected to the A6’s crankshaft can recover up to 12 kW during deceleration, storing that power in a lithium-ion battery in the rear. That power is used to increase the threshold of the A6’s start-stop system to just under 14 mph, and is also connected to the camera sensors of the A6 so it can start the engine back up as it senses traffic moving ahead even with the driver’s foot on the brake.

A 7-speed S tronic dual-clutch gearbox is paired with the 3.0-liter gas engine. Some of our German-spec A6s featured air suspension, which won’t make it to the U.S. (not until the S6, anyway). We will see a traditional steel-sprung suspension with damper control and a sport suspension option with stiffer springs, which sits 20 mm lower than standard. Test cars were also equipped with Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires that we’d be shocked to see in America, which made for a grippy sedan. Progressive electromechanical steering is standard, with an optional dynamic all-wheel steering system available only in other markets, but not in the U.S. (again, not until the S6 makes it stateside). It’s a little light in feel; very precise though we’d like to see it a bit firmer in “dynamic” mode.

More dynamism, please

The bends in the Douro valley roads we drove had us loving the 3.0-liter turbocharged engine, but also wishing that the “dynamic” mode were a bit more, well, dynamic. When preparing for corner entry and exit, for example, we were looking for the transmission to drop down another gear or two. Instead we ended up pushing more into the accelerator on corner exit to trigger downshifts; by the time all that had happened we were heading into another tight corner, losing the opportunity to build speed on any small straights encountered. It’s a testament to the monstrous engine that you can even pull that trick off, though. Braking is excellent, requiring little effort while giving good feedback and confidence.

Audi’s winning streak of beautiful interior design continues in the 2019 A6. The focus is more toward tactility than on “luxury,” with a future-forward aesthetic including two center displays for Audi’s MMI touch response operating system. A lower 8.6-inch screen lets the user create up to 27 shortcuts for vehicle functions including climate control, navigation destinations and more. The text input system now lets you write out whole words with a swipe of your finger rather than just letters—maybe not revolutionary, but very cool. The upper screen (8.8 inches in Premium A6 models, 10.1 inches in Premium Plus and Prestige) is for infotainment features, and “buttons” for various functions can be arranged smartphone-style.

More: Class of 2019 New Cars and Trucks

A voice control system also allows users to engage and adjust a range of systems with everyday speech commands. While we’re predicting a comeback for tactile buttons and switchgear in the future, the haptic and acoustic feedback in Audi MMI is impressive. Using climate control as an example, you can change the temperature in 1-degree increments with a press with haptic feedback to match. Or you can just swipe up or down on the number, scrolling to the temperature you want. You can also sync the cabin temps with a 2-finger pinch anywhere on the screen.

Plenty of driver assists

The optional MMI navigation plus includes Audi virtual cockpit and its 12.3-inch high-resolution display in the dash, with relevant information projected onto the windshield. Both plus and standard MMI navigation have a self-learning function based on driving routes, and maps will update over-the-air four times every year. The 2019 A6 will include a barrage of driver assist systems, though we don’t yet know how many will be available in U.S. models. Highlights include adaptive cruise assist, which combines adaptive cruise control with the lane guidance function and traffic jam assist over the full speed range. A new use of onboard systems brings “Bottleneck Assist,” which corrects steering in roadwork or if the car veers to close to the edge of the road.

Though the lines of the 2019 A6 don’t appear to be dramatically different from the previous model, the new body has a handsomely redesigned front end and nice flared wheel arches. It also has a .25 drag coefficient, which along with exhaust tuning minimizing low frequency noise, a more rigid front axle and other load points, an rpm-adaptive torsion damper reducing engine vibration, and options like three-layer acoustic glass, makes the cabin quiet enough to notice—so quiet it can be hard to hear the beefy V6.

Overall, the 2019 Audi A6 is a seriously good car. It is fast as all get-out, packed with state-of-the-art modern convenience and safety technology. It handles well and provides a comfortable, luxurious ride for driver and passengers alike without being ostentatious. Call it “business class,” “luxury class,” or anything else you like—as long as the A6 is around, the midsize luxury sedan won’t be ceding its place to SUVs quietly.

 

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