When you’ve finally made enough bank to walk into an Audi dealer with the intention of driving out with a high-zoot luxury car like the redesigned 2019 A6 sport sedan, chances are that fuel economy isn’t going to be at the top of your list of concerns. You’re rewarding yourself, after all, and what matters here is how your fancy new car looks and feels – and how it makes you feel.
Ecologically speaking, though, we’re living in a different time and place, aren’t we? There are appearances to maintain. People to impress. And your own guilt to assuage. Don’t worry, because Audi has made the all-new A6 a hybrid right out of the box, thanks to its standard 48-volt light-electrified powertrain.
The Understated Hybrid
The 2019 Audi A6 is here to play on your team, whatever that team represents. Not only did Audi make the newest version of its midsize sedan opulent inside and out, it’s also a blast to drive and effortlessly fuel-efficient at the same time.
Here’s the deal: the A6 is actually a mild hybrid electric vehicle (MHEV). The hybrid part, though, is pretty much invisible. In fact, in many ways, Audi downplays it. You can barely find any information about the new 48-volt electrical system on the company’s consumer website. Frankly, the car is so good that perhaps Audi had too many other aspects of the car to brag about.
But let’s dwell on the hybridization of the A6 a bit longer. The car’s new 48-volt electrical system is comprised of a belt-alternator starter working in conjunction with a lithium-ion battery located under the trunk. This technology rules over the car’s electrical components and ensures that the engine’s stop-start system operates as frequently and as smoothly as is possible. Indeed, at intersections the A6 does not suffer from the typical shudder when the engine restarts and the technology is networked in a way that it can sense when the car in front of you has started accelerating, improving response.
Though it is technically a hybrid, the new Audi A6 nevertheless hauls. Audi says the midsize sedan can launch from a standstill to 60 mph in about 5.1 seconds. Credit goes to the turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine, which delivers 335 horsepower through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission to the standard Quattro Ultra all-wheel-drive system.
Acceleration is delightfully smooth and you’ll absolutely luxuriate in its abundance. All across the rev range, thrust is plentiful, making it a pure and simple joy to press the right pedal and revel in the car’s power.
Yet there is little price to pay at the pump, especially around town. Last year’s supercharged 340-hp V6 returned 20-mpg city/29-mpg highway with an overall rating of 23 mpg in combined driving. This year’s turbocharged 335-hp V6 gives 22 city/29 highway and 25 combined. On my test loop, the A6 returned 23.6 mpg, which is a little short of expectations, but still quite impressive for a car of the A6’s ability.
Of course, the 48-volt mild hybrid electrical system is but a small aspect of the A6’s personality. Like most German vehicles, this car’s focus is on providing the driver with plenty of grins. The A6 is graceful around town, creating a serene ride, but veritably tangoes down the sinuous canyon roads with which coastal Southern California is blessed. The suspension may be a tad softer, and the steering a bit easier to turn, than in a typical BMW, but unless you’re regularly tearing down the road at super-legal speeds, that’s really a moot point.
Big on Style, Less So on Utility
As with most luxury sedans, the A6 is packed with the latest in infotainment and safety technologies. My A6 test vehicle had the Prestige package and Driver Assistance Package, among others, coming in at $74,440 including the $995 destination charge. Clearly, there was plenty to explore.
Among the standout features is a natural voice recognition system that tries to allay any concerns you may have. Feel a little chilly? Just press the speak button and say, “I’m cold.” A concerned voice pops up to ask what temperature you’d like to change to. Tell it that you’d like some coffee, and it’ll direct you to the nearest barista.
If you’d prefer to go old school and enter your request manually, you can do that too. There are two big touchscreens just waiting to accept instructions. On top is a 10.1-inch screen with navigation and infotainment functions, while an 8.6-inch lower screen manages the climate control and other comfort amenities.
I’m even older school and prefer buttons and knobs to touchscreens, which require a distracting amount of precision while you’re driving, but there’s no doubt that Audi put a lot of thought and design expertise into the A6’s infotainment system. The graphics are beautiful, and the lower screen even recognizes your scribbled handwriting.
Also gorgeous is the Audi Virtual Cockpit digital instrumentation. You get a choice of themes, and you can render the gauges large or shrink them to emphasize driver information center data. My favorite of those displays is the Google Earth integration that gives you a bird’s eye view of the street you’re on and your surroundings. Use it while in your driveway, and you can peep into your neighbor’s yard to see what was going on the last time the satellite passed overhead.
My test car also had a heads-up display, which projects speed and other important information on the windshield. It is terrifically useful, but my significant other groused about how he couldn’t see it while wearing his polarized sunglasses.
Like almost every Audi before it, the A6’s interior is composed of lovely, tactilely pleasing materials. From both the solid and soft-touch surfaces to the cool touch of real aluminum and the car’s supple leather upholstery, the cabin clearly conveys luxury. I just wish my test vehicle came with a cabin in any color but black, which tends to hide design features. A lighter color provides more contrast and elevates the details.
The only big complaint I had about the A6’s interior related to Audi’s utter disregard for your belongings. There is very little storage to be found, anywhere. There is no convenient place for your phone, even, the wireless charging pad taking up what little space exists under the center armrest. That leaves the cup holders, the door panel bins, or making the long reach to a deep but difficult to access glove box.
The car’s trunk is small, too, measuring 13.7-cu.-ft. courtesy of the aforementioned lithium-ion battery that resides under the trunk floor. Overpackers, reconsider.
Useful aids to keep you and the A6 safe
Then again, these may be small prices to pay to pilot such a handsome vehicle. Audis tend not to stray far from their successful formulas when it comes to exterior appearance, and that’s true even when the car is all-new, as the 2019 A6 is. Conservatively handsome, with freshly crisp sheet metal articulations, my test vehicle wore the jumbo optional 21-inch wheels, giving it a fighter’s stance. No one can ignore the distinctive Matrix-design LED headlamp light signature, either, whether it’s on during the day or banishing the nighttime gloom.
Other driving aids, part of the optional Driver Assistance Package, include:
- Intersection Assist, which helps avoid collisions at blind intersections by automatically braking the vehicle
- Turn Assist, which helps prevent a driver from turning left across traffic when it isn’t safe
- Traffic Jam Assist, which helps to relieve stress in heavy stop-and-go traffic
- Active Lane Assist, which centers the A6 in the lane of travel
- Emergency Assist, which can detect a sleeping driver or one who has suffered a medical problem, and can bring the A6 safely to a stop with the hazard lights activated
These features are in addition to Audi’s forward collision warning technology that can detect pedestrians and cyclists in addition to cars, as well as adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and a bevy of other aids that all work together to give the driver the best odds at avoiding a collision.
Don’t worry, all of those features work quietly in the background so that you barely notice them in action. Your typical daily interaction with the A6 is your approach to this handsome car, slipping into the lavish interior, turning on the (available) massaging seats, issuing primary commands by voice, and driving your favorite roads.
And if someone should come to your window, reproachfully asking if you thought at all about the environment before getting a fancy new Audi? Roll it down, casually mention that your car is a hybrid that gets 25 mpg, fix your sunnies, roll the window back up, and rocket away.