Audi’s new mid-range 3-litre A6 is currently priced at $359,900, which is $114,000 more than the entry-level 1.8-litre A6. It’s a price difference big enough to almost buy another new Audi, the 1-litre A1 Sportback.
Thus, it’s not surprising that the vast majority of A6 buyers chose the 1.8, with only a handful ordering the 3.0. They’re getting significantly “more” A6 saloon, though, as reflected in the 3.0’s open market value (OMV), which is about 50 percent higher than that of the 1.8 A6.
It looks costlier, too, thanks to the sleek S line bodykit (bumpers and door sills), racy 20-inch alloy wheels and powered sunroof – all standard equipment for this variant. High-tech matrix LED headlights complete the exterior, but these are also available on the 1.8 A6.
What’s unavailable in the 1.8-litre version is the 3.0’s gem of an engine. Compared to the previous 3-litre A6 V6, also supercharged, the successor has significantly greater horsepower (333bhp versus 300bhp) and the same amount of torque (440Nm).
Despite its stronger power output, the 6-cylinder is more economical – able to travel about a kilometre further on every litre of precious petrol.
The car is faster, too, clocking just over 5 seconds in the 0-100km/h sprint, compared to the old 3.0 A6’s 5.5 seconds.
The supercharged 3-litre V6 revs promptly and smoothly, and the 7-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox (with a redesigned shifter lever) is equally prompt and smooth.
Best of all, the keen acceleration is virtually unaffected by wet weather, because the A6 3.0 has quattro all-wheel-drive, paired with sticky Pirellis. The car just grips and goes – no slip, no hesitation, immediate action.
It also has a standard sport differential that parcels the ample power between the rear wheels during full-throttle cornering. But for everyday driving in Singapore, the grippy quattro system will be more useful most of the time.
Useful, too, are the amenities inside the spacious and well-made cabin.
Good infotainment with easy connectivity to multiple personal devices, plus one USB port each for the driver and co-driver. Accurate and attractively rendered navigation with Google Earth maps. A clear head-up display. Automated “handsfree” parking. Front seats with integral air-conditioning, 20-way powered adjustment and two-memory settings. Double-glazed side windows to reduce noise from wind and nearby traffic.
There’s a dedicated button to activate the German “IT girl” inside the dashboard. She obeys basic voice commands, such as calling a contact in the phone directory, entering a navigation address or choosing an infotainment function.
On the move, the multi-mode Audi Drive Select gives the driver several choices to suit different driving situations and his personal preferences.
For me, the do-it-all and do-it-well drive mode is Auto, which feels a little more connected to the tarmac than Comfort mode, without being fidgety. Dynamic mode makes the drive livelier and the steering heavier (the steering is light and low-effort by default), but it might get tiring after one fast corner too many.
There’s also an Individual mode that allows the driver to set up the handling to his liking, by pre-selecting between comfort, auto and dynamic modes for the engine/gearbox, steering and sport differential.
The car’s ride quality is on the stiff side, but it’s acceptable considering the sporty low-profile tyres (255/35 R20 Pirelli P Zeros) and their handling advantage.
The 3-litre A6 costs much more than the 1.8-litre A6, but justifies the extra expense with far higher performance, superior grip and even nicer amenities.
ENGINE 2995cc, 24-valves, V6, supercharged
MAX POWER 333bhp at 5500-6500rpm
MAX TORQUE 440Nm at 2900-5300rpm
POWER TO WEIGHT 190.3bhp per tonne
GEARBOX 7-speed dual-clutch with manual select
0-100KM/H 5.1 seconds
TOP SPEED 250km/h (governed)
CONSUMPTION 13.2km/L (combined)
CO2 EMISSION 177g/km
PRICE INCL. COE $359,900 (no CEVS rebate/surcharge)