Test driving the Audi A6 35 TDI Matrix
My first memory of the word Audi goes back to the days when cricketer Ravi Shastri was presented with one. With no internet, or computers for that matter, I had tried to imagine what this unfamiliar sounding car would be like. The only thing I didn't have to imagine were the four interlocked rings on the grille.
Price: Rs 49.5 lakh, ex-showroom
Now, I find myself staring once again at those four rings interlaced through each other. Moving back a couple of steps I realise that the A6 is familiar too, yet not quite. Behold the new Audi A6 35 TDI Matrix, which the German company launched in grand style, via a rather unconventional video press release.
There are several changes. For starters, the single-piece grille is wider and its six corners appear a little more striking than before. The bumper is a re-designed unit. But, far more important, the A6 now benefits from Audi's Matrix LED headlamp technology.
On the inside, its cabin has been upgraded with new wood inserts. There's also a new nougat brown colour for the high-quality Milano leather seats. Four-zone climate control is standard fitment. The A6 also gets Audi's new next-generation modular infotainment platform; its signature MMI Touch is also available as part of this system. Under that lithe-looking bonnet, Audi has plonked in its two-litre TDI diesel unit, now with seven per cent more power, which Audi claims is five per cent more fuel-efficient.
Peak power rating of this new engine is 190 PS, which is available to your right foot between 3,800 and 4,200 rpm. Maximum torque is 400 Nm at 1,750- 3,000 rpm. Transmission to the front wheels is taken care of via a seven-speed S Tronic twin-clutch gearbox. On the 0-100 km/h acceleration run, the car breaches the 100 km/h mark in less than 10 seconds. Numbers, however, tell only half the story.
New to the A6 is the 7-speed S Tronic gearbox. Pics/Sanjay Raikar
We clocked a genuine 211-plus km/h on our test-run before running out of road, and even then the car felt as if it could log on about 10 more km/h. The other remarkable bit is the car's power delivery: it is like a straight line drawn with a ruler. There's power available at every part of the rev-range to propel this 1,830-kg machine ahead with an intent that could prove to be a serious problem for many a "sporty" car.
In true Audi spirit, the A6 is a brilliant handler. Corners, switchbacks, sweepers, straights — none of it is a problem. Even at our very high testing speeds, the car held its line as if it was on rails. There's excellent feedback from the steering, which feels light at low and moderate speeds but weighs up nicely as the velocities rise. This car gives you confidence when you see that bend ahead, that even an average driver feels like an expert.
The air suspension also works its magic on the surface beneath the 245/45 R18 tyres. Ruts, patchwork, potholes and the like are kept well away from the passengers who sit ensconced in the luxury of the car's spacious and rather silent cabin.
The car was launched at R49.5 lakh, ex-showroom, and at that price the Audi A6 is not over-priced compared to its competitors. The thing is, at that price, it isn't highly competitively priced either. As a result the A6 doesn't become the automatic or obvious choice, but is one more option in that segment. However, as an option, it's a brilliant one.
The Audi A6 Matrix, as its name implies, gets the German company's signature all-LED headlamp technology that we first saw in the larger A8. The system uses bundles of 19 light-emitting diodes (LED) combined with four reflectors in each headlamp. The result is brilliant illumination. These state-of-the-art headlamps remain on high beam permanently but still do not dazzle drivers of oncoming vehicles. How? By switching off individual LED clusters. Clever little technological wizardry, isn't it?
Need to know Audi A6 35 TDI Matrix
Engine — 1,968 cc inline four cylinder, turbocharged, diesel, DOHC, four valves/ cylinder
Max Power — 190 PS @ 3,800-4,200 rpm
Max Torque — 400 Nm @ 1,750-3,000 rpm
Transmission — 7-Speed S Tronic
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