Audi A6 (2015)The 2015 Audi A6 may not look much different, but it’s more efficient and faster than before, making it more competitive against the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class

Andrew Brady | October 2014

No, you don’t need your eyes testing. This really is the facelifted Audi A6 and no, it doesn’t look a great deal different to its predecessor. But when said predecessor looks as fresh as it does, and continues to sell well, why should Audi bother with a serious redefine?

Instead, Audi’s concentrated on giving it more performance while improving efficiency. What is it they said about having your cake and eating it? Well, Audi’s pulled it off, and we whole-heartedly approve.

The eco-friendly 2.0-litre TDI ultra now returns 109g/km CO2 and 67.3mpg. There’s no denying that these figures are impressive, but in a bid to go, well, ultra-green, has it lost the pizzazz you’d expect from a premium car?

Audi A6 (2015)What’s the 2015 Audi A6 2.0 TDI ultra like to drive?

With 190hp and peak torque of 295lb ft across a relatively wide band between 1,750 – 3,000rpm, the Audi A6 TDI ultra is surprisingly eager to hustle along. We tried it with the seven-speed S tronic automatic transmission (which replaced the CVT gearbox earlier this year), and it’s a spritely thing – albeit too tempting to give it a bootful, no doubt harming the quoted 67.3mpg.

There is a manual transmission available too, but the official economy figures favour the automatic ’box. The S tronic suits the car – changing down quickly yet providing excellent refinement and efficiency by selecting higher gears where appropriate.

While the Audi A6 ultra makes for an incredibly competent motorway mile-muncher, we were surprised how agile it was around town. At nearly 5m long, the A6 isn’t a small car, but it’s easy to place in urban areas with excellent all-round visibility.

Out on rural roads it’s equally capable. Sure, it doesn’t offer the precision of the BMW 5 Series, but it feels safe – with smooth damping and little body roll. The excellent brakes add to that secure feeling, although in typical Audi fashion we found ourselves wanting just a tad more feedback through the steering wheel.

We also tried the £46,125 3.0-litre BiTDI which does a frankly amazing job of combining economy with performance. Think 0-62mph in 5.0 seconds yet fuel consumption of 38.2mpg and you’ll get an idea of just how versatile this large saloon or estate is. It sounds good, too.

As Audi’s flagship diesel, the BiTDI S-Line we tried comes with all the trimmings such as the fancy new LED headlights, but even the basic company car-spec Ultra SE features leather seats as standard, as well as cruise control and a 6.5-inch sat nav screen.

Audi A6 (2015)Why is the 2015 Audi A6 2.0 TDI ultra so efficient?

Moving back to the ultra, how has Audi managed to work wonders, making a car that’s painless to drive while offering outstanding efficiency?

Clever weight saving and trick technology is the key. The Avant estate model we tried uses new GFRP (fibreglass) springs as standard. These are 40% lighter than conventional steel, and trim 4.4kg off the A6’s overall weight.

Other features include an improved stop-start system, as well as a coasting mode, selectable through the infotainment system, which saves up to 4g/km CO2.

The CO2 emissions do depend on the wheel size you opt for, as well as the transmission. Plunge for an SE saloon on 17-inch alloys with the automatic ’box and you’ll get the lowest CO2 figure. This results in annual vehicle excise duty of £30 and a BIK company car tax rate of 17%.

Audi A6 (2015)MR verdict: 2015 Audi A6 2.0 TDI ultra

Company car drivers have every right to love the Audi A6 2.0 TDI ultra. Unlike many green variants, the A6 Ultra won’t result in frustration at a lack of torque – you don’t need to plan every overtake carefully because engineers have concentrated far too much on crucial CO2 emissions rather than how the car drives.

That doesn’t mean the figures aren’t good. They’re excellent, in fact. No longer is dirt cheap road tax the preserve of city cars powered by lawnmower engines – the A6 proves you can get a genuinely premium car with excellent green credentials without feeling short changed.

Rivals: Audi A6 2.0 TDI ultra

  1. BMW 520d SE
  2. Jaguar XF 2.2
  3. Lexus GS 300h
  4. Mercedes-Benz E 220 BlueTec

The biggest issue with the Audi A6 ultra is the BMW 5 Series. A 520d SE automatic matches the A6’s CO2 emissions, while having the edge on mpg and performance. In reality the figures are extremely close, but the BMW will be the better driver’s car. Alternatively there’s the Mercedes-Benz E 220 BlueTec SE which doesn’t quite match the Audi’s efficiency, while at present the Jaguar XF struggles to compete the Germans when it comes to numbers. If you fancy an alternative to the usual diesel, how about a hybrid Lexus? The Lexus GS 300h matches the Audi’s CO2 emissions, and costs from £31,495.

Specification: Audi A6 2.0 TDI ultra

Engine: 2.0-litre turbodiesel

Gearbox: seven-speed S tronic auto

Price from: £31,955

Power: 190hp

Torque: 295lb ft

0-62mph: 8.2 seconds

Top speed: 144mph

MPG: 67.3

CO2: 109g/km