REVIEW | The 2021 Audi A6 is a rare but delightful commodity
What will be the ultimate fate of the premium D-segment sedan genre? We are talking about nameplates steeped in heritage, with decades under their respective belts.
Cars like the BMW 5-Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. There are others. Or shall we say, were others. Lexus no longer sells the GS. You would be lucky to spot a Jaguar XF in the wild. And the Volvo S90 is even more scarce.
In each of the brands mentioned here, there is an equivalent, upper-medium-sized sport-utility vehicle – and as we all know, that is the body style now favoured by the car-buying public.
When the latest Audi A6 arrived on test recently, it prompted a serious bout of appreciation for the traditional three-box saloon template.
And the execution in this case, as is typical of the German brand, is one that rates highly on the sophistication scale. Clean, uncluttered lines, a stately presence – especially in black – and understated elegance. No denying, the new A6 is a classy ride, wearing the additional length, width and height rather confidently.
The timing of its arrival was perfect, too, coinciding with chauffeur duties for my best friend as he tied the proverbial knot. Not even my haphazard attempt at decorating the exterior with gold ribbons diminished its inherent tastefulness.
Speaking of tasteful, the lounge of the A6 gets top marks for fit, finish and that all-round sense of exceptional quality. But that is unsurprising, Audi rarely sets a foot wrong in this regard.
The digital-intensive layout does take some getting used to, but once familiarised, the latest expression of the Multi Media Interface system is a cinch to operate. Haptic feedback from the touchscreen simulates the clicking sensation of regular switchgear – of which there is not much, save for items like the electric windows, a rotary dial for audio volume and the buttons on the steering wheel.
Now we can segue into driving. In the A6, that is a detached, cosseting affair. This is not the leader of the pack from an engaging, fun-to-drive perspective: you probably know which emblem to look at if you prioritised such a trait.
But the Audi sets quite a standard for comfort, refinement and overall sumptuousness. What was more impressive is that we were driving the entry-point into the range, the 40 TDI model. It uses the 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, turbocharged-diesel motor you find in the engine bays of countless Volkswagen Group products.
With 140kW and 400Nm it is sufficiently punchy, with outstanding frugality being a strong suit. The illuminated fuel level bars on the instrument cluster are obstinate, even if you drive like you left 30 minutes later than planned to the wedding venue. While steel springs are standard, our car was equipped with the optional adaptive air suspension, which lowers or raises depending on driving mode.
Pricing for the 40 TDI begins at R960,000, before options. Nearly R400,000 less than a Q7 45 TDI, or even the svelte A7 55 TFSI, for the sake of interest.
If you are the conservative, traditionalist who has always admired what the A6 stands for, you can take solace in its existence amid an ever-changing landscape.