A mid-life facelift for the current generation A6, the new Audi A6 Matrix 35 TDI comes with a host of updates and a rather interesting addition to its name- ‘Matrix’. Yes, this suffix does remind you of a 1999 sci-fi flick that took the Box Office by a storm. The headlamps, however, aren’t the only significant update this car boasts of. Generally, such facelifts are strictly cosmetic in nature. This is where the new A6 becomes an exception. Yes, it does get a host of minor updates to its exterior, but even the 2.0-litre TDI oil burner is new and offers enhanced power and efficiency figures. Recently we spent an entire day with this Mercedes E Class- and BMW 5 Series-adversary from Ingolstadt. Here’s our Audi A6 Matrix 35 TDI Test Drive Review for all about the latest facelift.
Akin to how some major features from the S-Class have trickled down to the new-gen E, this A6 seems to have borrowed in considerable measures from the A8. Of course, among the biggest talking points here are those hi-tech headlamps. The highlight of these headlamps is their capability to turn a set of LED bulbs off just so they don’t cause discomfort to the road users travelling in the opposite direction. Brilliant, we say! These headlamps made their debut on the A8 and they have also found their way to the R8, the RS7, the RS6 and the TT. Also, thanks to the new pair of eyes, this car’s front-end looks a lot younger and a lot more sophisticated than the pre-facelift model. These brilliant headlamps, however, is only one of the various updates to the exterior.
The front fascia also boasts of a sportier bumper and a wider radiator grille. Together the two new re-styled bits infuse a touch of richness with the car’s front end. The refreshed A6 also comes with stylish new V-shaped alloy rims, sleeker tail-lamps, and rectangular exhaust pipes. Overall, thanks to the new bits, the A6 manages to hide its age really well and comes across as a really handsome machine.
The interior too has been refreshed. The features list gets longer and the major additions include-
The design of the interior stays almost true to that of the earlier model. However, it does get some very likable revisions in the form of matte textured wood trim and a re-styled gear knob. Our test car came in the “S Line’ trim, which means the dashboard and other panels came finished in black instead of the black-and-beige affair on the regular variants. The large cabin and a rather gargantuan boot continue to impress.
Powering the Audi A6 Matrix 35 TDI is a new 1,968cc Turbo Diesel engine that has the same displacement as the earlier motor. The latest iteration of the A6, however, benefits from a higher max. power of 190 PS (from earlier 176 PS) and a higher peak torque of 41kgm (vs 38.7kgm). That’s not all, there’s also a new gearbox that sends power to the front wheels. The refreshed A6 offers as multiple driving models to suit your driving style/requirements.
The revised A6 is pretty sprightly and there’s enough punch to overtake most of the fast moving traffic. The engine, in a manner that’s typical of new age TDI motors from VW Group, offers a rather linear torque curve, with the turbo kicking in from little above 1,500 RPM. The A6 feels capable of attaining 100 KMPH from standstill in roughly 8 seconds and it’s potent enough to cruise at roughly 150 KMPH all day long! Those of you who’ve driven the pre-facelift model will miss the strong mid-range punch but the updated motor’s rather linear power delivery does make this car a real good cruiser. True, this car is no tarmac-scorcher, but for a luxury sedan with almost no sporty aspirations, the refreshed A6 makes for a pretty capable machine.
One of the most significant updates on the A6 is the new 7-speed Dual Clutch Transmission that replaces the Multitronic CVT of the older car. Now, these S-Tronic transmissions from Audi are among the most sorted out units available today, and quite obviously, the CVT’s annoying ‘rubberband effect’ is conspicuous by its absence on the new car. What’s somewhat of a let down, however, is the new Dual Clutch Transmission’s hesitance to down-shift during kickdowns. Don’t get us wrong though, for the A6 Matrix is far from being lethargic. It’s only during some spirited driving, or when you’re in a sudden need of extra horses to overtake a fast moving vehicle, that this S-Tronic unit’s slightly laid back character might irk you. The good part is that the A6 now offers steering-mounted paddle shifters, which allow you to override the auto ‘box and have more control on the power delivery.
Our favorite bit on the refreshed A6 is its adaptive air suspension. Now this is one feature that makes the A6 stand out amongst its rivals. Audi cars are known to offer a cossetting ride without upsetting the handling characteristics by a considerable margin. And the latest A6 marches a step forward by offering a ride quality that is absolutely laudable. We drove the car in ‘Comfort’ mode for most part of the day and the A6 Matrix simply gobbles up every single pothole or any kind of undulation that comes its way. Choose the ‘Dynamic’ settings from the brilliant ‘Drive Select’ system and the A6 continues to impress with its amazing ride quality.
On the flip side, however, is the ultra-light steering wheel. While the feather-light steering enables you to easily make way through congested, traffic-infested streets, it simply refuses to weigh up enough with speed. Choosing the Dynamic mode does add some weight to the steering but all of it feels a bit too artificially induced to reassure you in the corners. Apart from this slight niggle, the A6 impresses with its high speed stability and the steering precision. Okay, there’s some body roll during quick lane-changing maneuver but it never gets unnerving. The A6 Matrix might not be the ‘ultimate driving machine’ in its segment, but for its target audience (Read: mostly chauffeur-driven owners seeking a luxurious experience), the suspension settings are exactly spot on!
With features like the brilliant Matrix headlamps and the air suspension, the A6 is currently the most technologically advanced car in its segment. However. there’s more to the refreshed A6 than just groundbreaking headlamp technology. For starters. the new engine is more refined and offers a much more linear torque delivery. And then there’s the really likable S-Tronic Dual Clutch Transmission, which is a definite step ahead of the Multitronic CVT of the pre-facelift. Not just this, even the ride quality of the refreshed A6 is nothing short of being exemplary. True, the gearbox could have been a tad more responsive and the steering a bit heavier, but let’s not forget that it’s the very sporty S-series, and not the A-series. of Audi cars that is aimed at the driving enthusiasts. This car, thanks to the rather comprehensive set of updates, has now inched closer to the A8 and we simply can’t marvel at the terrific package the A6 Matrix is. The Audi A6 Matrix 35 TDI is quite simply the most advanced and the most balanced car in its segment today. And guess what, we just can’t wait to know about the technological advancements that the next generation A6 will bring to us!
Photos- Dhruv Saxena and Yatharth Singh Chauhan
Words- Yatharth Singh Chauhan
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