The volume heartland of Audi‘s new A6 will be the 2.0-litre TDI BusinessCar has previously sampled, but there is also a market further up the range.

The prestige German brand predicts that 23% of volume will be the 3.0 TDI model, and the quattro version driven here is the best example of how far Audi, and the car industry, has come in the past seven years.

The 2004 A6 3.0 TDI quattro has 225hp of power, emits 227g/km of CO2 and has a 33.6mpg official fuel figure. The new model has 9% more power, yet 30% less CO2 is emitted and the economy is 40% better at 47.1mpg.

The new A6 is important for Audi, with the brand saying “you can’t call yourself an executive carmaker if you’re not doing well in this segment”.

This area of the market, 3.0-litre executive saloons, possibly houses the best engines on sale anywhere, looking at the offerings from Jaguar, Mercedes and specifically BMW, and the Audi 245hp 3.0-litre TDI is about as good as any of them. The BMW just about has the edge, but they’re all outstanding. Yet this S-tronic auto A6, even with the quattro four-wheel drive system not offered by any rival, is the lowest-emitting diesel in its class, one

benefit-in-kind band and 4g/km below the BMW 530d auto, which is just ahead of the Merc E350 CDI and well ahead of the Jaguar XF. To drive, the A6 can’t quite match the class best, but it’s certainly nothing to complain about, and interior space and kit is impressive.

A6 RVs can’t equal the 530d’s, according to KwikCarcost; in fact, they sit behind all the major class players, and that’s what eventually makes the difference against the Audi’s arch rival. The BMW is 0.2p per mile better than the A6, which is tight enough to make it too close to call. The A6 has made a bigger step forward with the new model than BMW’s 5-series did last year, and the executive segment is now more competitive and above a higher quality than at any point in history.

Audi A6 3.0 TDI SE Quattro S-tronic
P11D price £38,890
Model price range £30,145-£41,640
Residual value 30.6%
Depreciation £26,990
Fuel £8222
SMR £2643
Vehicle Excise Duty £550
National Insurance £4025
Cost per mile 87.2p
Fuel consumption 47.1mpg
CO2 (tax) 156g/km (24%)
BIK 20/40% per month £156/£311
Service interval variable
Insurance (1-50) group 34
Warranty 3yrs/60,000mls
Boot space min/max 530/995litres
Engine size/power 2967cc/245hp
Top speed/0-62mph 155mph/6.1secs
On sale April 2011
Score 8/10
Verdict Excellent 3.0 TDI
engine gives A6
serious appeal