New plug-in hybrid version of Audi’s executive saloon
Audi’s A6 is deservedly popular with board-level business
users. And nowadays with social responsibility moving higher up the corporate
agenda, the timing is right for a fuel-efficient model that is also capable of
full EV motoring, one of a new generation of Audi plug-in hybrids to arrive in
2020. The Audi A6 55 TFSI e quattro, to give it its full name, requires no sacrifice
in either luxury or performance while delivering lower CO2 emissions (and lower
Benefit in Kind tax for company car drivers).
The A6 is a subtle, smooth, and impeccably finished executive car that bears a family resemblance to the flagship A8. Audi’s familiar hexagonal grille is flanked by Matrix LED headlights and the fastback line of the rear window give a coupé-like profile. The plug-in hybrid version comes with the S line exterior package as well as exterior black styling elements and privacy glazing. Alloy 19” wheels and callipers with red accents, and lowered sports suspension convey its sporting character. Inside, the specification includes stainless steel pedals, leather-trimmed steering wheel and sports seats.
The A6 is powered by a combination of petrol and electric power; the former is a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that alone develops 252PS, while the electric motor has a peak output of 105 kW (around 140PS). Together, maximum power is 367PS and torque of 500Nm is available from just 1250rpm, with power delivered to all four wheels via quattro all-wheel drive. Acceleration for the 0-62mph benchmark is a seriously fast 5.6 seconds and top speed is governed at 155mph. On the economy front, claimed figures are 134.5mpg combined and 47 g/km CO2 and the all-electric range is 32.9 miles. When plugged into a 7.4kW fast-charger, the battery will complete a full charge in around two-and-a-half hours.
Like the rest of the A6 range, the 55 TFSI e has the Audi Virtual Cockpit digital instrument cluster, a 10.1-inch infotainment system and a touchscreen mounted in the centre console. There are three drive modes to optimise the petrol-electric hybrid powertrain; ‘EV’ for all-electric driving, ‘Hybrid’ for the efficient combination of both drive types and ‘Hold’ that conserves the electrical energy available at any given time. Programme a destination into the sat nav, and the car will decide the optimum use of the available electric power. Predictive efficiency assist combines information from navigation, online traffic events, the driver’s style and the vehicle camera and radar sensors to manage energy, for example whether to freewheel with the engine deactivated or coasting charge recuperation.
With almost 40 assistance systems the A6 sets a safety benchmark in the executive saloon class. Systems include adaptive cruise assist, which also includes bottleneck assist for traffic jams. Audi active lane assist helps keep the vehicle in lane with gentle steering intervention, while emergency assist can bring the vehicle to a stop in an emergency and make an emergency call if the driver is incapacitated.
Verdict: the calm, unruffled luxury of the A6 already puts it among the class leaders and the plug-in hybrid model only polishes those credentials. It’s faster than most sports cars to 62mph, and the uncanny silence of EV mode adds to the refined interior ambience. If your daily mileage is under 32 miles you should be able to complete it without using a drop of petrol or emitting a single gram of CO 2 yet when you need to venture further the A6 55 TFSIe quattro is, like other A6 models, still the perfect executive express.