Trying to get more power from less displacement is not new. The supercharging route has origins in an 1860 patent taken out by two brothers from Indiana, but Audi’s last big use of the idea was to get extra voema from the Auto Union Grand Prix racers in the 1930s.
Yet here we are in 2009, driving the new A6 3.0 TFSI quattro tiptronic (the penultimate range-topper just below the manic RS6), and between the banks of its ‘all-new’ V6, nestles a Roots blower.
Of course it’s a very clever one. Allied to twin intercoolers it spins up to 23000rpm to generate up to 0.8 bar of boost, and in conjunction with direct fuel injection produces 420Nm of torque from a low 2500rpm and all the way to 4850rpm where the power peaks at 213kW.
It’s an impressive mill, making its debut in the A6 bodyshell where its seamless, smooth power delivery is well suited to the car’s ethos and to the improved six-speed tiptronic box which puts it all down through revised quattro hardware. In testing we achieved a credible 6.72sec 0-100kph sprint (not far off the maker’s claim of 5.9sec). Significantly, this is allied to a claimed fuel index of 9.4ℓ/100km (combined) and CO2 emissions of 219g/km.
For Audi the blower is a way to stay in the green race without losing the premium limo appeal. And the new Audi A6 range does limo well. Park a new one next to the old and it all becomes clear, but it’s still more Q-car than showboat.
Out test car impressed with its aerodynamic S-Line bodykit, but across the A6 range the facelift includes a new front bumper and grille, daytime running lights, front fogs (oval on S-line trim, rectangular as standard issue), LEDs in the exterior mirrors and a chrome door trim strip. Round the back you’ll notice two-piece LED lights and an ally-look strip in the bumper. A new selection of larger diameter alloys, 18s in this case, give the cars that poised for action presence.
Inside is a new instrument cluster, alloy look trim accents, some revised switchgear, softer material on the armrests, L-shaped head restraints and the third generation MMI (Multi Media Interface) with its sharper, brighter graphics and a new ‘joystick’ action cap on the rotary switch to aid navigation.
Our test car boasted the optional Sports Package, adding a lower, stiffer sports suspension, 18-inch alloys and more supportive seats; the S-Line exterior panels (R18 680); a sunroof (R11800); Executive package elements including electrical seat adjustment, Xenon Plus headlights (R9950) and park distance control (R13 300). In all, a range of extra toys adding just over R100k to the base price of R571 000.
But how does it drive? Handling has been tuned to achieve a balance of comfort and sportiness using new dampers and revised damper/spring rates, allied to crisper, more precise steering. It’s fractionally remote and highly assisted, but even at speed is not jittery over rough surfaces. In the new quattro set-up the mechanical Torsen centre diff directs more torque rearward in a 40:60 ratio, but can shift torque bias front to rear between 15:85 and 65:35. The result: that characteristic front-driver understeer has been muted, and at the limit there’s a tendency to mild oversteer on turn-in.
It’s more rewarding, particularly in Sport mode. The Sports suspension gives a firm but not harsh ride, body roll control is good, and the paddles behind the steering wheel add to the sonorous thrill of getting the most from the V6.
In every respect it’s a refined, hugely accomplished car, yet despite being 22cm longer than an A4 it doesn’t look much bigger and it’s almost the same width. Still, as a package the A6 is subtly endowed with more interior space, a bigger boot (546 litres against the A4’s 480 litres) and a deal more presence – the stuff that really counts in executive express territory.
AUDI A6 3.0 TFSI QUATTRO TIPTRONIC
HOW MUCH | R571 000
ON SALE |Now
ENGINE |2995cc 24v V6, 213kW @ 4850-6800rpm, 420Nm @ 2500-4850rpm
TRANSMISSION |Six-speed tiptronic, all-wheel drive
PERFORMANCE CLAIMED |5.9sec 0-100kph, 250kph, 9.4ℓ/100km (combined), 219g/km CO2
HOW HEAVY/MADE OF | 1725kg/steel, aluminium hood and fenders
HOW BIG (LENGTH/WIDTH/HEIGHT) |4927/1855/1459mm
ACELERATION |3.22sec 0-60kph, 6.72sec 0-100kph, 8.67sec 0-120kph
QUARTER MILE/TERMINAL SPEED | 14.42sec/160.2kph
OVERTAKING |3.21sec 60-100kph, 4.03sec 80-120kph
BRAKING100-0KPH TIME/DISTANCE |2.70sec/39m
ODOMETER | 3072km
TEST TEMP | 18ºC