Audi A6 Ultra Test Drive Review
05 August 2014
Audi has launched the first in its new range of low-emissions models, branded Ultra. A4 saloon and Avant, A5 Coupe and A7 versions will follow, but to kick-off the new branding, the premium German brand has launched a 114g/km A6 saloon.
Although it can't quite match the BMW 5-series' low of 109g/km, the A6 is available at 114g/km in all three trim levels, rather than just the SE driven here, and a manual version is also available at 117g/km.
The Avant model also gets the Ultra treatment, offering a 119g/km model in automatic form that's just 1g/km behind the equivalent BMW 5-series Touring.
The emissions reduction is largely achieved through a new engine and gearbox combination. A 190hp 2.0-litre diesel replaces the old 177hp unit, and in automatic form it is mated to a new seven-speed S-tronic transmission that replaces the previous eight-speed CVT gearbox.
The manual is £1530 cheaper, giving it a cost advantage of 1.8p per mile despite being fractionally less efficient, although automatics are admittedly more desirable in the executive sector.
While not sparkling, the performance from the new engine is fine for a large car, and refinement and interior quality are up to usual classy Audi standards.
The problem the car has is the BMW 520d's excellent residual values. At 42.4%, it gives the BMW a huge advantage over the A6's 34.9%, and while insurance and SMR costs favour the Audi, which is also £1000 cheaper, that RV difference leaves the BMW 1.4p per mile better off.
Among other rivals, the hybrid Lexus GS300h, which is also a 109g/km car, manages to get below the 520d at 65.5p per mile, but the Audi is 1.7p per mile clear of the equivalent Jaguar XF and 2.1p per mile ahead of the Mercedes E220 CDI SE.
The A6 Ultra makes a load of sense for corporate users. The emissions are very competitive, and the choice of trim levels gives it a trump card over a 520d M-sport, which has a 119g/km emissions figure. It's not class-leading, but the Ultra puts Audi back at the sharp end when it comes to executive-level efficiency.