The shapely Audi A6 mid-size sedan has been redesigned for 2019, and most of the big gains come in less visible ways.
Yes, the shape’s been subtly tweaked, but more important are its stiffer chassis and lighter body, which improves the 2019 A6’s ride and handling.
Likewise, its former supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 has been replaced by a turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 that makes the same horsepower, but has much torque that comes on at lower rpm and peaks later. It also uses a 48-volt mild-hybrid system which can power accessories such as heat and air conditioning when the car is stopped, but not when it’s shut off.
The new engine makes 335 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque, which is 44 more pound-feet of torque than last year. Its acceleration from 0-60 mph takes 5.1 seconds, same as last year. It’s mated to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic and all-wheel drive, which cuts power to the rear wheels when extra traction isn’t needed.
The wheelbase of the new A6 is a half-inch longer than before, although the interior room is the same, roomy enough for a mid-size car. On the outside, the length is the same, the grille is bigger, the fender flares understated, and there are new headlights and taillights.
The base Premium model has an unchanged dashboard layout, but the other two models, Premium Plus and Prestige, feature three screens: a 12.3-inch digital dash, a 10.2-inch infotainment touchscreen, and an 8.6-inch touchscreen for vehicle functions. The improvement was made to better display all the various functions, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, now standard.
EPA fuel mileage is 22 mpg city, 29 highway, and 25 combined on premium gas. That’s 1 mpg better than the all-wheel-drive BMW 540i and 2 mpg better than the Mercedes-Benz E300.
The 2019 A6 hasn’t been crash-tested yet. Automatic emergency braking is standard. In the Audi A4, the system was rated “Superior” by the IIHS, preventing a crash at 12 mph and reducing a crash to 25 mph from a 47-mph speed.
An optional safety package, for $2,500, includes active lane control, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitors, a surround-view camera system, and a head-up display.
The 2019 A6 Premium model costs about $60,000, higher than rivals but better equipped, even without the high-tech displays. It includes leather seats, twin touchscreens for infotainment and vehicle controls, 19-inch wheels, LED lights, sunroof, heated eight-way power adjustable front seats, three-zone climate control, Bluetooth connectivity, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, four USB charge ports, automatic emergency braking, and premium audio.
The Premium Plus, at more than $63,000 to start, includes the triple high-resolution screens, keyless ignition, and soft-close doors.
The Prestige, for more than $68,000 to start, adds a surround-view camera system, heated and cooled front seats, head-up display, blind-spot monitors,16-speaker audio by Bang & Olufsen, and wireless smartphone charging.
The styling is handsome while being subdued, especially compared to its mid-size brother the A7, which has more passionately shaped and more athletically styled lines. The A6’s nose is long, while the roofline sweeps back like a coupe, over a sharp window line. The A6’s corners are rounded, with sharply sculpted character lines on the sides. The new rear LED taillights don’t wrap around, and thus look cleaner.
The serene and quiet cabin is also restrained, although it has changed more than the exterior, at least in the Premium Plus and Prestige models with their high-tech screens, which despite their size are integrated well, and don’t look bolted-on like before. The 10.2-inch touchscreen, 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, and 8.6-inch screen for vehicle functions are sharp, bright and responsive controls.
The standard wood trim is warm and ambient lighting soft. There is contrast stitching on the seats and other leather areas. There aren’t many small storage bins, and the cupholders are small, although the door pockets have spots for water bottles. The center armrest bin is shallow and the glovebox small.
The leather on the front seats is soft, and the seats are roomy, while the bolstering allows for a snug and supportive fit. The seats are 8-way adjustable and heated, while options include 18-way adjustability, cooling, and massage.
The A6 is no bigger than other mid-size cars, but there’s still excellent rear legroom, more than 37 inches. That was enough for our 6-foot-3-inch editor, who spent more than his share of time back there without scraping the ceiling. The rear seats fold, but not flat.
The cabin is quiet, so normal conversations are possible.
The trunk doesn’t do as well as the rear seat. Despite a wide opening and low floor, its capacity is an average 14 cubic feet.
Outward visibility is good, directly front and rear, but the rear roof pillars create a blind spots over the driver’s right shoulder.
The wider power band in the new A6 turbo V-6 is definitely noticeable, inspiring the driver with more confidence, especially during passing and freeway onramp acceleration. The torque now hits its stride at just above idle, something that engines were incapable of just a few years ago. And there is more of it. This makes the car easier to drive, overall.
The 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with paddle shifters has pretty much been perfected by Audi. It feels invisible.
The new all-wheel-drive system doesn’t just disconnect power to the rear wheels to save fuel during cruising, it can detect wheelspin at the front wheels, and shift more power to the rear wheels. The driver never detects any of the re-distribution.
The A6 has driver-selectable modes, too. In a sportier mode the power goes to all four wheels for stability in the corners, while in comfort mode the throttle is less sensitive and the steering lighter.
A 48-volt mild hybrid system, unlike more familiar hybrids, doesn’t add power to the engine. It’s just used for the accessories at a stoplight, to use slightly less fuel.
The standard suspension is five-link front and rear, with the available suspension using adaptive dampers and rear-wheel steering. We haven’t had a chance to test the active suspension yet, but the standard springs and struts provide an improved ride over the previous A6, thanks to the increased rigidity. We found the 19-inch wheels more comfortable than the optional 21-inchers, due to more sidewall to absorb bumps.
The 2019 Audi A6 hasn’t received a flashy redesign, but it feels different behind the wheel. The new V-6 feels stronger, stiffer, and lighter—and with its multi-screen interior it feels more like the future.
by Sam Moses, with driving impressions from TheCarConnection.