Audi A6 1.8 TFSI Ultra S-Tronic: Mid-sized Charisma

“If it works, don’t fix it.”

Audi seems to have heeded this well-known mantra in its latest iteration of the Audi A6. This luxury, mid-size sedan remains little changed from its predecessors, and continues its lineage as a well-built, sleek, all-rounder sports sedan.

Facelifted for 2016, this perennial favourite has continued to deliver the same smooth overall performance and responsive handling, permitting driver and passengers to overcome the challenges of urban traffic within the comfort and tranquillity of a plush upholstered interior. Outwardly, the handsome A6 retains Audi’s hallmark conservative and contemporary styling such as the distinctive Audi Matrix headlights and characteristic horizontal chrome struts. Instrumentation was as usual, intuitive and ergonomic.

And more importantly, it’s now available as a 1.8-litre turbocharged variant, perfect for those looking for a fuel-efficient, comfortable, and yet responsive driving machine.

Exterior

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Flowing lines, pleasing proportions, a high shoulder running the length of the car and coupe-like roofline lend an athletic look to the otherwise conservative and understated Audi A6 1.8 TFSI. At nearly 5 meters long, this car is reasonable big and long.

The A6’s size made itself felt when confronted with having to find space in Singapore’s smallish parking lots. In particular, notoriously-narrow HDB parking lots could prove a challenge for a driver to exit the car without incurring damage to paintwork.

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Audi’s latest iteration to the A6 also sees inclusion of cutting-edge technology such as the dynamic LED headlamps and running lights, complimented with running signal indicators which never fail to attract attention on the roads.

Interior

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We were pleased by the overall excellent build quality inside. All knobs and switches were tactile, well-made and robust. In terms of comfort, this car accommodates five adults with space to spare for your handbags and briefcases.

The A6’s comfortable contoured leather seats, four zone climate controls were aesthetically complemented by a fine grain ash wood inlay on the dashboard – a welcome traditional design flourish that blended well with the contemporary and classy brushed aluminium trim throughout the cabin.

Alas, the absence of sufficient shoulder and arm support coupled with the just-adequate width of the driver’s seat proved a tad less than comfortable for longer trips around town. Noticeably absent was the arm chair experience which is de rigueur for those who have to endure hours on the road, or road warriors embarking on long highway drives across the Causeway.

In the rear, luggage space was a well-lit and capacious 530 litres, expandable to 995 litres with the foldable 40:60 split rear seat backrest.

Vehicle controls were intuitive and easy to operate. Pretty much everything needed to control the car is clustered on the centre console between driver and front-seat passenger. For instance, the logically-configured Audi MMI Touch located on said console made operating individual components of the infotainment system a breeze.

However, we felt that the otherwise aesthetically pleasing array was let down by a binnacle crowded with driving metrics scattered around the speedometer and rev counter. A driver cannot afford to divert attention from the drive in order to scrutinise information from the car’s instrumentation. Similarly, while navigation provided by coloured Google maps was pin-point accurate and up-to-date, the busy and multi-coloured map was not exactly the most reader-friendly that we’ve encountered.

The Drive

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Make no mistake – Audi is the car to get if you’re looking for a respectable front-wheel drive vehicle that delivers everyday smooth, high-performance and agility. In an age when Internet connectivity comes standard with new luxury continental sedans, we had the distinct pleasure of savouring the Audi driving experience without the distraction of the Audi connect feature more commonly found in higher spec models.

The 1.8-litre variant of the A6 delivered an impressive and responsive front-wheel drive experience. It excelled particularly at short sprints from standstill and weaved quickly and easily through traffic congestion. Its 320 Nm of torque came into play almost instantly, and the auto-hold feature proved to be a boon for driver relief in typically frequent stop-go conditions in peak hour traffic.

Efficient, economical and powerful, this luxury sedan from Ingolstadt, Bavaria, was breeze to manoeuvre in typically tight local car parks and narrow side streets. Audi Drive Select automatically provided the highest efficiency while driving, selecting from one of five standard driving modes that worked in tandem with the marque’s S-tronic technology.

Paired to the 4-pot turbocharged plant, Audi’s dual clutch 7-speed transmission swept smoothly through rapid gear changes, including coasting mode (which switches to neutral when the accelerator is released). Alas, the car’s suspension afforded a so-so drive that was a tad firmer than we expected from a luxury sedan in this class.

Conclusion

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The family-oriented business executive or contemporary entrepreneur would favour the Audi A6 as a classy, understated, and economical mode of transportation whether for work, errands or family outings.

While you may wish to consider a higher-line Audi for long destination drives up to Malacca or Penang, the A6 1.8 TFSI proved to be an impressive vehicle for everyday driving.

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