Audi A6 (2011-2018) Review
Classy, understated and very efficient, the Audi A6 is a fine executive saloon
Strengths & weaknesses
- Beautiful, high-quality interior
- Ultra diesel very cheap to run
- Quattro four-wheel drive available
- Pricey options and higher-spec versions
- S line has harsh ride on poor roads
- BMW 5 Series better to drive
Audi A6 prices from £11,495 Finance from £276.20 per month
The Audi A6 is a longstanding company-car and business driver favourite that’s a direct rival for such accomplished models as the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes E-Class, Lexus GS and Jaguar XF. With the exception of the fast Audi S6 version, it uses diesel engines only, so it’s generally cheap to fuel and tax. Audi’s famous quattro four-wheel-drive system is offered as an option, boosting grip in rain and snow.
Interior quality has been an Audi trump card for some time now and the A6 is a perfect example. It boasts a stylish, minimalist design and very robust quality, combining to create very pleasant surroundings for you and your passengers. Generous standard kit means no model feel like it’s missing essentials, either.
At the wheel, the Audi isn’t quite as agile or exciting to drive as the rear-wheel-drive BMW 5 Series – it’s more about offering a sense of planted solidity than getting your heart racing – although the S line version does come with lower and stiffer suspension for improved handling. This has the unfortunate side effect of spoiling the A6’s ride quality on typically rough UK roads, so we’d recommend specifying your car without it – a no-cost option.
A five-star Euro NCAP crash-test rating provides independent confirmation that the A6 is a safe car, while there’s plenty of space inside – front and back. It has a bigger boot than the 5 Series and large windows ensure plenty of light gets in, making the car feel bright and airy.
Plenty of storage spaces inside mean you won’t be stuck for somewhere to keep your odds and ends, and although the A6 saloon will never be as a versatile as a hatchback or estate, it does come with split-folding rear seats to temporarily expand luggage space as needed.
|Three years/60,000 miles
|Tax (min to max)
|£20 to £290
Best Audi A6 for...
Best for Economy – Audi A6 2.0 TDI Ultra SE S tronic
‘Ultra’ is Audi’s designation for its most fuel-efficient models. In this case, that means a 187bhp 2.0-litre TDI diesel engine with the brand’s S tronic automatic gearbox. It emits just too much CO2 to be exempt from road tax, but you’ll only pay £20 a year and careful driving should see economy in the region of 67mpg as long as you stick to the smallest wheel size.
Best for Families – Audi A6 2.0 TDI Ultra SE
A manual gearbox reduces fuel economy of the Ultra version ever so slightly, but the car is still exceptionally cheap to run. There’s no need to look beyond the ‘basic’ SE trim level – or version – either, as it has all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a car in this class.
Best for Performance – Audi A6 S6 TFSI Quattro S tronic
The seriously quick S6 is the sole petrol-engined version of the A6 saloon. It produces a mighty 444bhp and gets from 0-62mph in a dizzying 4.4 seconds. Its running costs and purchase price are naturally quite high, though.
One to Avoid – Audi A6 3.0 BiTDI  Quattro Black Edition Tip Auto
This twin-turbocharged diesel engine is not all that far off the petrol S6’s performance, but with four-wheel drive its fuel economy isn’t great for a diesel and in Black Edition trim it’s a bit too expensive to make financial sense. A cheaper, less powerful A6 will be more than enough for most typical buyers.
- December 2010 Prices announced for 2011 on-sale date
- August 2011 High-performance S6 version introduced
- January 2012 Powerful twin-turbo 3.0 V6 diesel added to range, as is the optional Technology Package Advacned, which adds Google Earth navigation, head-up display, blind spot warnign and adaptive cruise control.
- November 2012 Black Edition trim level launched with 20in dark titanium-coloured alloy wheels and black grille on top of S line specification.
- February 2014 Efficient and Euro 6-compliant TDI Ultra diesel model debuts with real-world fuel economy of more than 40mpg
- October 2014 A6s built between 2012 and 2014 are among almost 6,000 Audis recalled for a braking issue
- December 2014 Updates include bright xenon headlamps for SE models. All engines now meet Euro 6 emissions standards.
- September 2015 Car updated with small styling changes, in-car tech and engine range
- July 2016 SE Executive replaces SE trim, and inclues heated front seats as standard. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto added as part of the optional Technology Pack
- July 2018 New Audi A6 replaces this version
Understanding Audi A6 names
Engine 3.0 BiTDI 
The regular A6 is a diesel-only affair, with single-turbo 2.0 and 3.0-litre engines forming the backbone of the range and a very powerful twin-turbo 3.0-litre diesel also offered. Petrol power is the preserve of the range-topping S6.
Audi A6 models equipped with four-wheel drive are badged Quattro
Trim S Line
There are two basic S6 trim level, SE and S line, as well as the Black Edition special edition, which has pretty much become a permanent fixture at this point. The high-performance S6 petrol model serves as a separate trim level, too.
Gearbox Tip Auto
Most Audi A6 automatic cars have a sophisticated gearbox called S tronic, which has two clutches to make shifts smoother. The powerful twin-turbo diesel model makes do with a more basic tiptronic (Tip) automatic gearbox. Both versions have paddles behind the steering wheel allowing you to select the gears.
Audi A6 Engines
Diesel: 2.0 TDI, 3.0 TDI, 3.0 BiTDI
Petrol: 4.0 TFSI
The Audi A6 engine range begins with a 187bhp 2.0-litre diesel, and realistically, it’s going to be more than enough for the vast majority of buyers. Fuel economy is very impressive for such a large car, exceeding 67mpg in the most efficient Ultra version with the smallest alloy wheels. Performance is healthy no matter what version you pick, too: 8.4 seconds being the longest it’ll take any A6 to do the 0-62mph sprint.
If you do want more power, both 215bhp (front or four-wheel drive) and 268bhp (four-wheel drive only) versions of a 3.0-litre TDI are offered. They make the A6 satisfyingly quick for a relatively modest penalty in terms of fuel economy, although the numbers do drop quite a bit for models fitted with quattro four-wheel drive.
The most powerful A6 diesel is the twin-turbocharged ‘BiTDI’ 3.0-litre, whose five-second 0-62mph time would worry some supercars from not so long ago. There are few places in the UK where this kind of performance can be exploited to the full and in all honesty this car was made more with German Autobahn users in mind.
Petrol power in the A6 is reserved for the most powerful S6 version, which is even faster than the range-topping diesel – but can barely manage 30mpg fuel economy, so buyers will be spending a lot of time at their local fuel station. And while this car is undoubtedly fast in a straight line, it’s not as much fun as a powerful petrol BMW 5 Series on a twisty road.
0 - 62mph
56.5 - 67.3mpg
7.7 - 8.4s
55.4 - 64.2mpg
54.3 - 55.4mpg
5.5 - 6.6s
45.6 - 47.1mpg
30.1 - 30.7mpg
Audi A6 Trims
SE, S line, Black Edition, S6
SE is the entry-level model of the Audi A6, but actually it wants for little. The standard equipment list includes alloy wheels, Audi’s ‘Drive Select’ system (offering a choice of driving modes), bright bi-xenon headlights, sat nav, Bluetooth phone connectivity, DAB digital radio, power-adjustable heated mirrors, four-zone air-conditioning, a four-spoke leather steering wheel, a central front armrest, leather upholstery, cruise control, parking assistance, keyless entry and a brace of safety equipment.
The A6 S line trim level is primarily a visual upgrade, adding bigger (18-inch) alloy wheels, sports suspension, LED lights, a distinctive S line bodykit and steering wheel and more supportive sports seats. Next up is the A6 Black Edition, which has even larger (20-inch) alloys than the S line, a BOSE surround-sound stereo system, dark-tinted glass and a special black styling package (incorporating both interior and exterior trim pieces).
The S6 serves as its own trim level, packing in that powerful 4.0-litre petrol engine, as well as an active noise-cancellation system to make things more hushed on the move, 19-inch alloys, adaptive suspension (which can adjust for a more comfortable ride or better handling as desired), its own bodykit, oval-shaped exhaust pipes and some special ‘S’ badges.
Audi A6 Reliability and warranty
In the 2015 edition of Auto Express magazine’s Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, the current A6 was ranked a pretty poor 180th out of 200 cars for reliability, indicating it’s far from a trouble-free car to own. It did much better for build quality, where it was ranked 41st, so at least Audi’s reputation for robust fit and finish isn’t completely unjustified.
Unfortunately the news on the warranty front isn’t great, as Audi slaps a 60,000-mile limit on its three-year manufacturer guarantee. That’s in contrast to main rival BMW, which also covers its cars for three years, but with no mileage limit within that time.
Used Audi A6
The Audi A6 doesn’t hold its value on the used market quite as well as smaller Audis such as the A1 and A3, but it doesn’t do too badly for a big saloon. The high-performance S6 model – sought after by enthusiasts – actually does best in this respect, although it’s obviously a lot more expensive to buy in the first place than the more mainstream diesel models.
The sporty-looking S line trim level – more expensive when new – continues to command a premium when secondhand, but the SE’s status as ‘all the Audi A6 anyone really needs’ holds true here just as much as does it does if you’re buying brand-new. At the time of writing, dealers on BuyaCar were offering keen discounts on our favoured models in the region of 15%, so if you were in the market for year-old used model, a brand-new example may not be as far out of reach as you think.