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My Audi A6 45 TFSI: Ownership experience

I was still biased towards the BMW 330i since it fits the sporty car criteria better than the A6 which is a luxury sedan that aims to be in between the BMW 5 Series and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class.

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The Purchase

We had been looking to make a purchase for quite some time and had taken several cars into consideration over the last two years. Last year, we had finalized the BMW X3 but decided to drop the purchase since we did not find the deal good enough. At that time, an SUV was the criteria but this time, a fast-driving sporty car was the criteria. The 330i was an easy choice, and the Sportline was about 7 lakhs cheaper than the M-sport (the price has now been increased I think) while offering the same driving characteristics. At the showroom, we test drove the 330 Ld variant since they didn't have the regular one and it ticked all the boxes. We also test drove the 6 series in order to get a feel of the 2-litre petrol engine. We were impressed on all counts and were ready to make the purchase. However, we were informed that the Sportline variant would take quite some time to be delivered and that the M-sport variant would be available right away. We were open to considering the variant if there was a good discount on it. The sales rep took his time in making an offer, and it was in this period that we started looking at other options. Mercedes cars were completely ruled out since we have an E-class at home already. We got the Audi A4 for a test drive and while it was nice, the 330i was undoubtedly the better driving car and I did not see any reason to pick the A4 over the 3 series.

Around this time, there was news on this forum about hefty discounts from Audi. I called the dealership and they confirmed that discounts were being offered and told me they would arrange a test drive for the A6. Upon the arrival of the car, I was completely blown away by the quality of the interior. Everything I touched felt premium, the touchscreens and digital instrument cluster were cool and the audio system is among the best I have heard. On the highway, it was quite fast. It is a 240 bhp car and felt like it. My only gripe with the car was that the suspension was too soft and hence the handling was not as sharp as I wanted it to be, and with our bad roads (even 6 lane highways) there was some up and down movement, but otherwise, it was top notch. I did not particularly feel like the FWD setup hampered my driving style [fast and sedate (under the speed limit, of course)].

I was still biased towards the 330i since it fit the sporty car criteria better than the A6 which is a luxury sedan that aims to be in between the 5 series and the E class. All I had to wait for now, were the deals we were getting and this is where Audi came out on top. BMW offered a very marginal discount while Audi gave a substantial discount that put it directly in the price range of the three series with the premium plus variant and the 3 series costing the same. I understand that there is a supply crisis of sorts with BMW and discounts everywhere are low, and I could have waited. But since we did not get a particularly good deal last year either, I had no reason to think that I might get a better deal by waiting.

With both the offers on hand, we chose the A6 since it was a good deal and a lot more value for money than the 3 series could compete with. All we had to choose now was which variant to pick. While there are several omissions in the base variant, the only feature I did not want to miss out on is the wonderful audio system, while my father was very impressed with the adaptive headlights. Based on these two factors, we booked the Technology variant over the Premium Plus.

Driving

The car is fast. It has 241 bhp and 370 Nm of torque and certainly feels like it. Official 0-100 time is 6.8 seconds. With all that power going to the front wheels, there is a lot of torque steer. However, as long as one is not pushing the car to its limits, the car is perfect. On the highway, it complies perfectly no matter how much it is pushed, but enter the ghats section and try to take corners at speed and the understeer will become evident. I actually do not mind the FWD since the AWD system used in the international spec reduces mileage by 2 kmpl, which is a conservative estimate. For my driving style, FWD and RWD do not make any difference.

It has an extremely sweet engine package. The same engine is being used in different states of tunes throughout the Audi lineup. It is extremely refined and below 3000 rpm, you will not hear anything, partly due to the excellent NVH levels. Post 3000 rpm, however, the car has a very cool engine sound. This is the first petrol car we have bought and wow, it is superior to diesel cars in every way EXCEPT mileage. The highway mileage has been around 15-16 kmpl while city driving gives about 10 kmpl which I reckon is not bad for a 2-litre turbo petrol engine. The single main problem as far as driving characteristics are concerned is the steering wheel. It is just way too light! It is speed-sensitive and firms up with speed and more so in dynamic mode, but even at its firmest setting, it is lighter than the E-class' lightest setting. This makes it easier to use in the cities and does not really have an impact on driving style, but, while at higher speeds, firmer steering does instil more confidence.

The A6 has a 7-speed S-Tronic gearbox. The car has four driving modes- comfort, auto, dynamic and eco. In comfort and eco modes, if you were to floor it, the gear shifts take longer. They should be slower to react to throttle inputs, but the shifts themselves feeling slower, I don't quite understand why. This is remedied by putting the transmission in dynamic or manual mode, where the shifts are instantaneous. The throttle response becomes extremely sharp in dynamic mode while holding lower gears at atleast 3500 rpm. In the city, however, rpms are kept very low and barely touch even 2000 rpm. In eco mode, the AC becomes less powerful and the car keeps to the highest gear possible at all times with a very slow throttle response. In a nutshell, the 7-speed gearbox and the driving modes work similarly to other luxury cars in the segment. Speaking of driving modes, there is a serious design flaw in the car. The traction control button and the drive selector button are adjacent! I have already accidentally pressed the traction control button twice.

The car has a mild hybrid system. It has some kind of battery recharge system. Where the hybrid system significantly works is the coasting function that it provides. This is one of the coolest features I have seen in a car. Basically, when you are coasting at a speed between 40 and 160 kmph and you maintain that speed for a certain amount of time, the gear disengages and the car is just rolling for about 40 secs after which the gear is reengaged. The engine has an auto-off feature that is usually used in traffic. That very same engine off function works in conjunction with the hybrid system to completely turn off the engine when it is coasting! I am not sure how to feel about the engine being turned off when I am driving at speed on the highway. Nonetheless, it is a cool feature and definitely contributes to covering more distance with less fuel. The official number is 0.6 kmpl improvement, but I reckon it can be more since the engine is not even running for almost 30-40 seconds every once in a while. There is also an option to recommend when to take the foot off the accelerator in order to activate the coasting function, which kind of provides kickback feedback in the accelerator pedal along with an icon on the instrument cluster that resembles a foot on the pedal.

The suspension setup of the car is something that I have very mixed opinions about. It is very, very soft. While I have always preferred firm suspension setups due to my motion sickness that is triggered by body roll, the A6 is really making me question my own preferences. It is easily the most comfortable car in the segment. The ride is very plush and you feel completely cushioned. Bad roads are just absorbed and there is no thud or thrash or any of those unpleasant noises when you go over a pothole and the like. I might have liked dampers as an option over the air suspension that is available on the international spec. On the highways, which are increasingly getting worse in this region, it works very well. There is a very little side to side movement, which I found relatable to the f10 generation 5 series i.e. there is some movement, but it is due to weight and well contained. However, the soft suspension shows in the ever so slight constant up and down movements caused by undulations. After having driven this car and being seated as a passenger, I am actually starting to prefer soft suspension setups, even though firm suspensions offer less body roll. What further contributes to the comfort factor are the wheels. The car comes with 18-inch alloy wheels and tubeless tires, with thick sidewalls. The A6 also has the highest ground clearance in the segment at 165 mm. The other day, I took a wrong route and was suddenly faced with a very bad, uneven puddle-filled mud road that I would have felt confident in, only in a full-blown SUV. But I had to go that way, and I drove very slowly and very cautiously, and at one point all four wheels were at different levels and I could feel the suspension straining, but in spite of all that, the car came through without a single scrape. I have attached the picture, and trust me, the road was a lot worse than it looks.

The car has a cruise control function that isn't anything intuitive to write about, but, it also has a lane-keeping function, which when used with cruise control works pretty well. The function basically ensures you stay within a lane and requires lane markings to function. It almost violently swerves you back to your lane if you try to switch lanes without using the indicators. I tend to keep this option off as it has surprised me at unexpected times. With adaptive cruise control, this feature would be extremely useful as it would then require minimal driver intervention. On our roads and in our traffic, it is more likely a hindrance than useful. For example, the other day I had the feature on and as usual, a truck decides to cut in out of nowhere. I did not have time to turn on the indicator nor did I think about it as I just wanted to make an emergency manoeuvre and as I am turning the steering wheel, the car decides it is better I maintain my lane and jerks the steering in the opposite direction which I then have to fight and turn again. This causes an instantaneous turn in the other direction which then gives in to my input, but you can see how this can be a problem. I totally understand why carmakers do not want to add autonomous driving features to their products in India.

Exterior

The A6 is a beautiful looking machine. It looks good from all angles and is an evolutionary rather than revolutionary change from its predecessor. The S-line, in the international spec, looks rad and aggressive, especially with those massive alloy wheels. It also gets different headlights that go with the look of the car.

Blacked out A6 in the same spec

The Indian variant is pretty well specced too. The DRLs are good looking, the alloys are great, especially at night when the black portion is not as easily visible and the rear lights are the same. The car has lines and curves all along which make it look cooler the longer you look at it. It has an almost coupe-ish roofline.

The adaptive headlights feature is awesome and works exactly as advertised. It changes angles according to what is in front of the car and you can often see this in action. But like other safety features that don't work as intended in India, this has its set of cons. For starters, if you are on a two-lane road, it turns off the high beam function completely if there is a vehicle in the opposite lane. That person might be blinding you with his high beams while you lose yours, not a great idea on a road without lights that might have animals, or worse, people running across. On the highway, it will detect vehicles and either turn off the lights or lower them depending upon the distance and this works well for the most part. The minus is that our people love driving on the highways without functioning taillights, and the light does its thing. I deduce that there must be a vehicle, and I have been right quite often. For these reasons, I tend to leave it on high beam 40 % of the time while leaving it in adaptive mode the rest of the time.

Interior

The interior of the car is up to segment standards, and in my subjective opinion, the best in class. The leather is very premium, leather everywhere, wooden inserts, cool steering wheel design and of course, the show-stopping touchscreens. The Digital instrument cluster is pretty feature-packed and can show a variety of information. The types of dials can be customized, although it is a process that is better done when the vehicle is stationary. The steering wheel has electronic adjustment. It automatically lifts up when the door is opened to facilitate an easier exit and the seats move back too, a very intuitive feature. The interior lights are touch-sensitive! The NVH levels are phenomenal, barely any noise seeps into the cabin and out on the highway, it is relaxing and comfortable. The beige interior is cool, but prone to getting dirty. Having the floor lining in beige does not seem like a great idea. The brown interior is more practical. The boot space is decent and has a space-saver tyre tucked under the floor. It also has a cargo holding net, and an umbrella, which is a nice touch.

The front seats are just okay. There is no thigh support and the side bolsters are not too big. It comes with memory seats. The cushioning is good in all seats. The rear seat space is excellent. My benchmark for rear-seat space is my driving position (pictures below), which is with the seat fully pushed back. In the E-class, I am very comfortable, in the 3 series, I can barely get in and in the 5 series, my knees hit the seat and it is only marginally better than the 3 series. In the A6, it is just right. I have enough knee room to sit comfortably but not as comfortably as the E class.

The majority of functions have to be controlled using the touchscreen and this means you have to take your eyes off the road and this is definitely not a good thing. Other carmakers are also following this trend, and it looks cool and all, but is ultimately not as safe as having physical buttons. The map is quite informative and can be displayed on the instrument cluster in either the centre of the screen or across the entire display. It is among the cooler tech features of the car. The buttons on the steering wheel are not as versatile as the competitor vehicles which offer more functions from the steering wheel. For e.g. - the view button can be used only to change the size of the dials and the information. I am yet to figure out how to cut a call using the buttons on the wheel. There is also no way for you to control what is on the touchscreen using the buttons on the wheel, unlike the E-class' buttons. It has 360-degree sensors and a rear camera. It does not get the 360 camera like in the international spec or the ones its competitors offer, but I can work with sensors and have no complaints.

Compared to E220d

Why? Because prospective buyers will be looking at these two cars rather than the 5 series which is an out and out driver's car. This E-class was bought in 2019 Jan when there were only two variants at the time. I think with the e350d being the top variant, so I don't know how it compares to the newer variants. The E-class is the champion of rear-seat space and one has to go an entire segment up to find similar levels of comfort. It is easy to see why this car is the segment leader in India where most buyers are chauffeur-driven. This car has memory seats for the rear, but no one has actually used it since the seat has been left at the most reclined position since it was bought. The A6 has more premium leather, but I think the E-class actually has artificial leather, which might be a complaint for some, but the vegan in me approves. The E-class exudes a classy vibe while the A6 gives off a very techno vibe so which one looks better is subjective.

The E-class is RWD while the A6 is FWD but I have not noticed this affecting my driving style so no issues there. The A6 is more powerful and more fun to drive of the two. The sheer length of the E-class LWB prevents you from actually pushing it as the car feels uncomfortable when driven so. Also, the NVH levels in the A6 are better than the E-class partly due to fuel. One is petrol and the other is diesel, but still, these are the options prospective buyers look at, not the petrol E-class which is underpowered.

In my opinion, the A6 is ultimately more comfortable than the E-class. This is due to the soft suspension setup and tubeless tyres. The run-flats in the Merc truly kill the quality of the ride, and the stiffer suspension setup does not aid in improving it but does lead to less body roll. Ultimately, one will have to test drive both vehicles to see which they prefer, but, the A6 is a worthy contender, especially considering the prices that these cars are currently retailing at. The A6 works better for a person who drives and is chauffeur-driven than the E-class does, which is exclusively for the chauffeur-driven.

Conclusion

With all factors given, we are very happy with the purchase, especially considering we were out to get a 3 series. The recent introduction of XP95 petrol at Indian Oil bunks has aided in improving refinement, while I am unsure of the performance since the car was in the drive-in period at the time. It has two years standard warranty with the option to extend it to 5 years which we will get soon. The comfort-oriented nature of the car with the powerful engine is an unlikely combination, but one that works very well. In the future, I might wrap and remap the car after the warranty expires. Thank you Team-BHP! Without this forum, this purchase would not have happened at all. Cheers!

Here's what GTO had to say about the matter:

So refreshing to see an A6 review in a sea of Es & 5s. And this is the BEST looking car in the segment by a mile. I can literally stare at Audi's timeless lines all day long.

Wishing you a minimum of 150,000 km of driving pleasure & road trips with this beauty.

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