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Audi A6 2.0 TDIe Review

The Audi A6 2.0 TDIe is a good-looking executive saloon that can also achieve 53.3 mpg

Audi A6 2.0 TDIe

Green Car Guide’s Road Test of the Audi A6 2.0 TDIe

Model/Engine size: 2.0 TDIe SE
Fuel: Diesel
Fuel economy combined: 53.3 mpg

Green Car Guide rating: 7/10

The Audi A6 2.0 TDIe is a large, good-looking executive saloon that can also achieve 53.3 mpg, but are there any downsides?

The A6 looks impressive, both from the outside and inside. It’s a large car, and it has an imposing presence. So it will tick the right image boxes for company car drivers, and in TDIe format, with emissions of 139 g/km CO2, it will combine a desirable image with low company car tax bills.

From the inside, you wouldn’t know that you’re in a relatively low emission car for its class. Audi has certainly built an enviable reputation over recent years with the design and quality of its interiors, and the A6 doesn’t disappoint. In SE-spec it comes with good standard equipment including leather. However some of the controls aren’t particularly intuitive. This includes the SatNav, the Bluetooth connection, and it even seems unnecessarily difficult to start a CD playing!

If you want to connect an iPhone, then unlike other Volkswagen-Audi Group cars such as the Scirocco , where there is an easy and user-friendly connection between the driver and passenger seats, in the A6 the iPhone connection is in the passenger glovebox. Maybe that’s why the glove compartment is opened by a separate button on the centre of the dash rather than by a handle where you think it would be, on the glove compartment…

As well as a quality interior environment, there’s also lots of space, in the front and rear, and the boot is huge. It feels like a wide car on the outside, and on the inside this feeling of width is shared by the central tunnel around the gearbox. Although it has Isofix connectors for child seats, they are very difficult to access behind the leather seats.

So how has Audi managed to get a large saloon to achieve 53.3 mpg, a figure that looked impossible just a few years ago?

The A6 2.0 TDIe has a relatively low-powered 136 PS 2-litre diesel with a six-speed manual gearbox. Audi has used the tried and tested method of improving the aerodynamics (by a 20mm lower ride height and special spoilers), adjusting the gear ratios (they’re around 5 per cent longer) and using low rolling resistance tyres. The company has also employed a power steering pump which operates only on demand and an alternator capable of regenerating energy during coasting.

And one of the best points about the car is that, out of all the cars we’ve tested this year, the A6 is the only car to match its claimed 53 mpg in actual real-life driving. Admittedly, most of the driving was done on long motorway runs, but this is a typical environment where you would expect the A6 to live.

So it looks good, has lots of space, and relatively low emissions. So what are the downsides?

With this class of car, people are traditionally accustomed to expect a powertrain that performs like a refined, silky-smooth, powerful 3-litre 6-cylinder petrol engine. So although the 136 PS diesel has adequate performance, it may be a bit of a shock to the system of company car drivers who have not experienced such lowly-powered diesels before.

However the main issue with this car, in our humble opinion, is that it is front-wheel drive. Cars in this class just shouldn’t be front-wheel drive. Look at the main competitors of the A6 – the BMW 5 Series and the Mercedes E-Class – and they’re both rear-wheel drive. There’s a good reason for this – with rear-wheel drive, the rear wheels put down the power and the front wheels do the steering. Keeping it all separate makes it work better.

With the Audi, you do get feedback from the driveline through the steering wheel in the form of minor torque steer. And this is something that you just don’t want with a car of this class.

Although Audi was a pioneer with four-wheel drive on road cars with the quattro, the quattro itself and most Audis ever since have all had the engine placed well ahead of the front wheels. This doesn’t result in great weight distribution, which in turns means that most Audis, with either four or front-wheel drive, have understeering tendencies.

Added to this is steering that isn’t the most precise, and the A6 is a relatively big, heavy car with suspension that is tuned for comfort rather than precise handling – although the ride is actually quite firm.

This all means that the A6 looks good, but the driving experience doesn’t quite live up to the expectations. The rear-wheel drive BMW 5 Series is certainly more of a driver’s car.

One thing worth noting is that the A6 is now nearing the end of its life, with a replacement due in 2011 .

Another thing to be aware of is the list of options fitted to our test car. This A6 looks good, with its large 18-inch alloy wheels, but they come at a price – £1100 to be precise (we’re assuming these wheels don’t have any negative impact on the official 139 g/km emissions…). The ‘advanced’ Audi parking system costs £950, the BOSE surround sound system costs £575, and the Technology package – Satellite Navigation system, HDD based with MMI 3G and CD changer – costs £500.

So you’re left with the base price of the TDIe SE being £26,935, which is the cheapest in the A6 range, plus the metallic paint at £700, plus the options at £3,920, plus the ‘on the road costs’ (delivery, fuel, number plates, road fund licence) at £745, which brings the grand total for this car to £32,300. This is quite a lot for a relatively low-powered car that still transmits feedback from the front wheels through the steering wheel.

Of course you can go for a high-powered ‘non-e’ version of the same TDi engine, but the consequence is obviously poorer economy and emissions.

The Audi A6 2.0 TDIe gets a Green Car Guide rating of 7 out of 10
. It’s a lot of car for the emissions, but we feel that prospective buyers would prefer rear-wheel drive in this class of car.

View of the dahsboard from the driver's seat

Summary and Review

The Audi A6 2.0 TDIe looks good, it’s got a great badge, a classy interior and lots of space. It has relatively low VED and company car tax bands, and should deliver 50+ mpg on long runs, while being a refined place to be. However we just don’t believe that, in principle, cars of this size and class should be front-wheel drive, and our findings in practice support our theory.

Our hope is that amazing deals will be available as this model runs out, and that the new A6 will have a bit more driver appeal.

Paul Clarke

Boot space in the A6 TDIe

The view from the Energy Saving Trust

The Audi A6 is a handsome executive car with a strong pedigree. It is due for a change as it has been around in its current shape since 2005. This means that special editions will appear with options added to secure continued buyer support. The A6 cannot beat BMW’s 520d in terms of fuel efficiency and arguably will struggle in other areas as well due to its age. However, it is not to be written off completely as it still a large executive saloon with emissions as low as 139 g/km for the TDIe version. The A6 is a good buy with strong residuals due to this being a very popular used car. Sticking with the more fuel efficient engines will ensure that running costs don’t get out of hand.

Tim Anderson
Consumer Transport Manager
Energy Saving Trust

Car details and fuel economy data

Fuel economy extra urban: 65.7 mpg
Fuel economy urban: 40.4 mpg
CO2 emissions: 139 g/km
Green rating: VED band E – first year £110
Weight: 1550 Kg
Company car tax liability (2010/11): 19%
Price: £26,935 (From £26,935 to £59,055)
Insurance group: 13
Power: 134 bhp
Max speed: 129 mph
0-62mph: 10.3 seconds
DPF: Yes

Keywords: Audi A6 2.0 TDIe review, Audi A6 2.0 TDIe road test