The Audi A6 has always been the most thoroughly sensible big executive saloon you can buy. It’s not very exciting, but the standard of the engineering, design and construction has rarely been anything less than faultless.
The current version continues the tradition. The new ‘ultra’ model adds an extra layer of sensibleness that combines various energy-saving technologies to make the A6 conspicuously economical.
Audi saloon styling is a bit me-too at the moment. Put an A6 between the A4 and A8, and the only obvious difference is size. Still, it’s inoffensively handsome and definitely an Audi; that’s important in one of the few sectors where brand loyalty still exists.
The interior is equally typically Audi. It’s a masterclass in ergonomics and beautifully made from top-quality materials. It feels as safe and solid as a bank vault, but it’s about as interesting a place to be.
Under the bonnet is a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo diesel engine producing 187bhp and 295lb/ft of torque. A seven-speed, dual-clutch S-tronic gearbox sends drive to the front wheels.
It’s a smooth, quiet motor with completely linear, meaty power delivery. Combined with the self-shifting ‘box, you can pretty much forget the engine is even there. It’s like a butler, doing its job well without you really noticing.
For what it’s worth, 0-62mph takes a respectable 8.2 seconds, with a top speed of 144mph. Much more importantly for the company car drivers the ultra is aimed at, it returns a claimed 64.2mpg (we saw 50mpg-ish) and emits 114g/km of Co2.
Ride & Handling
Our S-Line-spec test car comes with lower, firmer suspension and 18-inch wheels. While the ride is certainly harder than the standard SE model, it isn’t harsh or brittle. Rather, it feels securely connected to the road.
The handling holds no real vices and no particular interest, either. There’s no lack of talent in the chassis, or precision in the steering. But it operates with such slickness, you can’t get involved.
If you didn’t know the A6 ultra was a diesel, you would never really guess. There’s the tiniest hint of clatter at start up, and after that the engine is as good as silent.
There’s no wind or road noise to notice, and even if there was, the thumping stereo can drown out a jet engine. Seriously, I was sat in a queue under the Heathrow flight path and could barely hear the planes passing about 200 feet above my head.
Space & Practicality
There’s space – just – for five six-footers and the generous 530 litre boot is bang-on the class standard. If you need more room, buy the A6 Avant estate.
The S-Line comes with everything you need as standard: climate control, satnav, leather seats, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, DAB radio and front and rear parking sensors.
If your car buying decisions are driven purely by cost, then the A6 ultra stands in a class of its own. But the badge still matters in this sector, so if you really want a BMW or Mercedes, the Audi’s utter rationality is unlikely to sway you.
It’s hardly exciting, but the Audi A6 ultra is a fuel-sipping pool of serenity. If you do a lot of motorway miles and want them to be as stress-free as possible, there isn’t anything else at this price to beat it.
Audi A6 2.0 TDi 190PS ultra S-Line
Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo diesel
Gearbox: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
Power/Torque: 187bhp; 295lb/ft
Economy/Emissions: 64.2mpg; 114g/km
0-62mph: 8.2 seconds
Top speed: 144mph