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Audi A6 and Allroad


Providing just what you'd expect - smart, effortless driving

New Zealand's luxury car market has plunged 25.5%, but Audi overtook BMW last year and its market share has risen. Its young GM Dane Fisher is feeling bullish and has a point to prove.
He'd best not count numbers. Every segment in which his company competes has lost sales, the biggest drop - 46.4% - in the sports sector where the TT lives, with SUVs not far behind.

Small cars do best across the board nowadays, so introducing a facelift A6 and Allroad might look like a gamble. Except it's those with new product who will do best, for there's something to draw what buyers there are to showrooms.

Fisher hopes the A6 has changed enough to attract their interest. He might be pushing it for on paper, there's not much to excite. The exterior changes are limited to minor modifications to bumper and grille and to the lights, and the addition of LED indicators to the mirrors.

There's a 3.0-litre diesel engine based on the Q5's; the 3.0 six-cylinder petrol gets supercharging - yes, it's called a T FSI but take it from us, the T ain't for turbo. It's a goody, with 213kW and 420Nm, the latter delivered anywhere from 2500 to 4850rpm, for a zero to 100 figure of 5.9 seconds.

It's a clever unit, which uses a continuous belt drive not a magnetic clutch, with the bypass valve linked to the throttle to direct air into the Eaton supercharger, or past it, to control boost.

Four-valve rotors increase efficiency by keeping the flow of air constant, rather than pulsing. The set-up seems innocuous from inside the car, as the cabin's been shielded from the characteristic supercharge whine.

Most owners won't be interested in the detail, as long as it works. They will be interested in the third-generation user-interface though. It's even easier than before.

It's a clever system with lots of extras; it won't just recall some phone numbers for example, but can remember 2000 of them.

The Allroad's had comparable changes, with the launch of the 2.7-litre TDi engine and the 3.0 diesel. They are very similar engines but with different outputs governed by their software.

The 3.0 aims at a sporting feel, with its 19-inch wheels and sports seats. After all, as Fisher says, Allroad buyers don't want an SUV.

They'll be happy with the drive experience, the Allroad a confident driver at real world speeds and paying little attention to the road surface. Tar or gravel are taken in its stride, according to my brief launch drive.

Meanwhile the A6 sedan provides just what you expect - a smart, effortless driving experience allied to a smart, refined interior embellished with more than enough bells and whistles to justify the price. If you've got the money...

Audi's not the only company to simplify its line-up as sales sink. Fortunately few will miss the V8 RS6 that's no longer on sale here. Let's just thank our stars the stonking V10 quattro with its very un-suit-and-tie soundtrack remains.

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