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Audi has unveiled an all-new A6 executive saloon, integrating many of the refinements and innovations from the latest A8 luxury flagship.

The new Audi A6 will make its public debut at next week’s Geneva motor show before going on sale in the UK in the summer.

The new A6 has grown slightly in size, and every model in the range will feature mild hybrid technology to reduce fuel consumption and emissions. Audi claims improvements to comfort and handling, as well as a raft of technological improvements passed down from the flagship Audi A8 model.

The latest version of the A6 has been launched with one petrol and one diesel engine, both using automatic transmissions and all-wheel drive, although more engine options will inevitably be added over the next year as usual.

Audi A6 saloon, March 2018
Just when you thought Audi grilles couldn’t get any bigger.

Audi’s new direction on driver input

One of those upgrades is a new digital operating system with touchscreen format, which offers fast access to vehicle functions thanks to its logical and flat menu structure. Configurable favourites buttons help tailor the system to the user’s preferences, and it allows up to seven drivers to store their preferred settings in individual user profiles and set up to 400 parameters. Central vehicle functions can be placed in the required position in the screen by dragging and dropping icons like managing apps on a smartphone.

The driver controls the infotainment via the upper display, which measures nine inches in standard form or ten inches where the upgraded navigation system has been specified. The lower display is used for climate control and convenience functions, as well as text input. In addition, the head-up display projects important information onto the windscreen directly in front of the driver.

The optional MMI navigation plus system features include a self-learning function based on the driven routes, which generates intelligent search suggestions. Route guidance is provided online on the servers run by service provider HERE; these servers factor in the traffic situation in the entire region. If the flow of data is interrupted, the navigation switches to the online route guidance that runs in parallel.

MMI navigation plus has optional add-on modules, including two sound systems headed by the Bang & Olufsen Advanced Sound System delivering 3D sound. Shortly after launch, an on-street parking service.

The new A6 features natural-language voice control, which processes questions and commands in two ways; with onboard stored data and also – in conjunction with the optional MMI navigation plus – with detailed knowledge from the cloud.

Also as an option, you can replace your conventional vehicle key with an app. It allows an Android smartphone to lock/unlock the car and start the engine. Near Field Communication transfers data to the car. The owner can pass the access data onto five people or smartphones.

Comfort features include parking pilot and the garage pilot, which will become available at a later date and will be capable of autonomously manoeuvring the car into and out of a parking space or garage. The parking pilot and the garage pilot will form part of the forthcoming Parking pack.

Two other packages will be available at launch – the City assist package includes features such as a crossing assist system, while the Tour package offers adaptive cruise assist, which supplements the adaptive cruise control by means of gentle steering intervention to keep the vehicle in lane, and efficiency assist, which promotes an economical driving style.

Behind the assistance systems lies a high-tech module called the central driver assistance controller (zFAS). It continuously calculates a detailed model of the environment from a fusion of sensor data. Depending on equipment, the sensor set includes up to five radar sensors, five cameras, twelve ultrasonic sensors as well as a laser scanner – another major innovation.

Audi A6 interior, March 2018
Latest generation of Audis is finally embracing touchscreens after years of criticising them

Mild hybrid technology across the new Audi A6 range

All engines in the new A6 feature new mild hybrid technology. Here a belt alternator starter (BAS) works together with a lithium-ion battery, enabling the A6 to coast at speeds of between 34mph and 99mph in the interest of fuel economy and to initiate its start-stop function earlier – at speeds of 13mph and below.

The engine is restarted from standstill predictively as soon as the vehicle in front of the Audi A6 starts moving. During deceleration, the BAS recovers up to 12 kW of energy. In real-world driving, Audi claims the mild hybrid technology can improve the car’s range by up to 62 miles.

The interior of the new Audi A6 is even larger than in the outgoing model. Rear legroom exceeds not only the previous model but also rivals like the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and BMW 5 Series, while headroom and shoulder room measurements in both front and rear are also more generous than previously.

The new Audi A6 is claimed to be noticeably sharper than the outgoing model from a handling perspective, thanks to innovative new suspension options. Customers can choose from four set-ups: the conventional steel spring suspension, sports suspension, suspension with damper control and adaptive air suspension, also with controlled damping.

Progressive steering that becomes quicker and more direct as the steering angle increases is standard, and dynamic all-wheel steering can also be added to further enhance this agility.

As part of the launch in the European markets, Audi offers the new A6 with two engines – one petrol and one diesel. The petrol unit is a 3.0-litre V6 unit, which powers the saloon from rest to 62mph in 5.1 seconds thanks to outputs of 340hp and 500 Nm, and tops out at an electronically limited 155mph.

The 3.0-litre diesel V6 with 286hp delivers similar performance, with the help of an impressive 620 Nm torque output.

All A6 models will be exclusively equipped with automatic transmission. The 3.0 diesel unit is paired with a conventional eight-speed unit, while the 3.0 petrol engine is paired with a seven-speed double-clutch gearbox.

Both launch-spec engines channel their outputs through quattro all-wheel drive as standard, although the exact technical solution depends on your choice of fuel (or more accurately, gearbox). The diesel model with its conventional transmission runs a familiar self-locking centre differential all-wheel drive format, while the petrol engine and slicker transmission works with a more efficient all-wheel drive system called ultra, which is capable of engaging the rear axle instantly whenever needed but decouples it during cruising to maximise efficiency.

The new Audi A6 will go on sale in the UK in the summer. Pricing and specification for our market will be confirmed nearer to launch.

Audi A6 rear, March 2018

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Michael Dalton
Michael Daltonhttp://thevanexpert.co.uk
Michael graduated from university in 2016 with a degree in Human, Social, and Political Sciences. He is a former contributor to both The Car Expert and The Van Expert.