Geneva Auto Show 2004: All-New Audi A6

Throughout its history, the C-chassis entrant in the Audi lineup has always been groundbreaking. From the 5000 (a.k.a. 100/200) to the now outgoing A6, Audi has used this executive class car as a way to advance their design by several stages. Sure, there were cars in this line that were conservative, but generally this place in the Audi lineup is reserved for benchmark-setting vehicles and Audi is banking on the fact that this newest A6 continues in that fold.

From a design standpoint, the most striking cue on the new A6 must certainly be the new large shield-style mono grille. Designers have also subtly rounded the main form of the body around the grille to help further harken back to the rounded front snout of the fabled Auto Union silver arrow racecars of the 1930’s.

This new A6 is also more angular than the rounded outgoing model, and that’s probably no surprise given the new emphasis on the four-sided square shape in Audi design. Note the once-rounded rear trunk is now much more squared off at the edge, much like the new A8.

The handsome rolled-outward upper weight line that runs above the door handles was first seen on the Nuvolari Concept last year. While it looks fantastic in production excecution, just how well it stands up to parking lot door dings remains to be seen.

Inside, the new A6 shows further evolution of Audi design. Somewhere between the feel of a martini bar and a classic Chris-Craft speed boat, it’s not surprisingly a benchmark for the industry. The basic shape of the nautically inspired A8 center console design with MMI is shown with a more compact and sporty girth, while the aluminum gate of previous automatic Audis seems to have been replaced with a leather boot.

Where the A6 falls short of the A8 in a big way is the placement of the large color display. A welcome addition, it’s placement in the dash has nothing on the striking motorized appearance of Audi’s larger Q-ship.

From the driver’s perspective, the new guage cluster is more aggressive, and straight from recent Audi concepts. The steering wheel strikes out in a new design direction, no longer mimicking 3 and 4-spoke designs used in Volkswagens, the monogram center mirroring the same basic shape as the shield grille.

As has been seen before in new entrants to this class from Audi, many will find the car controversial. That said, we believe the new sedan does well in showing the design direction of the brand, even though the recent A8 12-cylinder stole a bit of the car’s design thunder. Still, Audi’s design continues to remain evolutionary and true to the brand, something not all competitors, even well respected ones, can claim.

Begin Audi Press Release

Design and performance

Audi is setting a new benchmark in the luxury performance segment. For the latest generation of the Audi A6 is a saloon combining supreme driving dynam-ics with high technology, plus outstanding comfort and exemplary equip-ment, thus striving for top position within this competition segment.

Powerful TDI and petrol engines with up to eight cylinders and 246 kW

(335 bhp), the most advanced transmission technology, as well as the choice of front-wheel or quattro permanent all-wheel drive set the foundation for the particular supremacy of the new A6 sports saloon. And thanks to the cutting-edge suspension combined with high body rigidity, this power and performance opens up a new dimension in driving dynamics.

Given these qualities, the new Audi A6 is rightly and appropriately committed to an outstanding role model: the Audi A8 lauded by both the press and the public as the sportiest car in its class. And now, with its wide range of features – with design and performance – the A6 is likewise set to overtake all its competitors as the most progressive car in the luxury performance segment.

A new face in the business class

Measuring 4.92 metres in length, 1.86 metres in width, and 1.46 metres in height, the new Audi A6 visibly sets a new standard. The lines of the car combine the clear architecture typical of Audi with other core elements of the brand’s progressive design.

Already acknowledged as classic, the fundamental proportions of Audi’s sports saloon with its low-slung windows and coupé-like roofline now comes with even greater tension and dynamism: the contours of the shoulder line sweeping up and the sweep of the dynamic line above the side sills give the entire body of the car forward-pushing, dynamic thrust. The distinctly curved dome on the middle of the engine compartment lid, in turn, symbolises the power and performance offered by the new Audi A6.

Seen from the front, the trapezoidal design of the single-frame radiator grille re-veals clearly that the A6 represents the latest generation of Audi models. The most advanced headlight technology, in turn, is equally visible behind the clear-glass headlight covers: the new A6 is the first Audi to feature as an option dynamic adaptive light technology incorporating powerful xenon plus units that help you see around corners.

The headlights thus follow the course of the road ahead as a function of steering angle and road speed, substantially improving the quality of illumination. The driver sees upcoming bends more clearly and precisely and is able to detect pos-sible obstacles at an earlier point in time. Obviously, this means a significant improvement in active safety.

Another brand-new feature, not only in the A6 but also in production cars the world over, is daytime driving lights featured in conjunction with xenon plus as well as the – likewise new – active cornering lights, xenon plus adaptive light. Consuming very little energy, the daytime driving lights offer the benefit of enhanced safety and visibility with virtually no additional fuel consumption and, as a result, no increase in CO2 emissions. Unlike use of the conventional low-beam headlights during the day, this new technology therefore literally comes “for free” and does not harm the environment in the slightest.

Low-slung rear lights wrapped distinctly round to the inside characterise the rear end of the car. A chromium strip visually divides the luggage compartment lid horizontally, at the same time creating a striking connection between the light units.

The very dynamic rear contour line providing additional downforce at the back in the interest of safe driving characteristics marks the rear upper end of the boot lid.


A quick look at the interior is also sufficient to show the change in generations, the high and wide centre console with controls and instruments in perfect reach accentuating the sporting architecture of the interior fully integrating the driver.

Sporting design and perfect ergonomics – these are the features that characterise the cockpit. A joint cover at the top connects the central instrument panel and the upper part of the centre console facing slightly towards the driver to form one common unit.

The round coolant temperature and fuel gauges are located in the corner of the newly designed, teardrop-shaped surrounds, next to the two large rev counter and speedometer dials.

The new generation of Audi steering wheels is also making its production debut in the new A6. The most outstanding visible symbol of both the three- and four-spoke steering wheels is the single-frame trapezoid centrepiece with the four Audi rings on the central airbag cap. And the oval exterior geometry also serves to vary the single-frame design.

Very neat and tidy in its look, the centre console has obviously also been inspired by the interior design of the new A8. As in Audi’s luxury sports saloon, the interior designers and engineers have also opted for an electromechanical parking brake on the new A6, giving the designers greater freedom in their creativity: with the new Audi A6 not requiring a handbrake lever, the design of both the console and the armrest is particularly generous and ergonomic.

The MMI control terminal is right behind the gearshift lever, again in perfect er-gonomic arrangement: this places its display exactly in the driver’s line of vision, integrated beneath the top dashboard cover.

All the car’s occupants benefit from a far higher standard of comfort and spa-ciousness inside: The wheelbase of the new Audi A6 is up by 83 millimetres over the car’s predecessor to 2843 millimetres. This means extra comfort and safety as well as additional legroom for the front passengers, plus extra knee room at the rear. Shoulder room at the front is up by 23 millimetres, with an extra 6 millimetres at the rear. The luggage capacity on both front-wheel-drive and quattro models is 546 litres.


The new Audi A6 is entering the market initially with a total of five power units fitted in longitudinal arrangement – three petrol and two TDI engines. All these engines share a level of power and torque that is outstanding in this segment of the market:

– new: 4.2 V8 – 246 kW (335 bhp) – 420 Newton-metres

– new: 3.2 V6 FSI – 188 kW (255 bhp) – 330 Newton-metres

– new: 2.4 V6 – 130 kW (177 bhp) – 230 Newton-metres

– new: 3.0 TDI V6 – 165 kW (225 bhp) – 450 Newton-metres

– new: 2.0 TDI – 103 kW (140 bhp) – 320 Newton-metres

All of these power units, as featured in the new Audi A6, are entering the market for the first time and comply with the EU 4 emission standard.

The six- and eight-cylinder engines come from Audi’s new V-configuration en-gine family with a 90° cylinder angle and a distance of 90 millimetres (3.54″) between the cylinders. They are compact in design and feature maintenance-free camshaft drive by means of a chain, as well as low-friction roller arm valve drive.

Petrol engines

The powerful 4.2 V8 with chain drive made an outstanding debut in the Audi S4 towards the end of 2002. Now this supreme power unit has been re-tuned and updated for the new Audi A6, offering powerful torque up to maximum engine speed plus an agile response and superior fuel economy all in one.

The new 3.2 FSI six-cylinder has all the features of a cutting-edge petrol engine. Direct fuel injection with on-demand fuel supply, four-valve technology, a variable intake manifold and infinitely variable camshaft adjustment gives the driver dynamic and powerful reaction to every movement of the accelerator plus a broad useful speed range of up to 7200 rpm, muscular torque and an equally high standard of fuel efficiency.

The new 2.4 V6 is the entry-level power unit leading into the versatile range of petrol engines available for the Audi A6. Based on the new engine block of the 3.2-litre power unit and featuring intake manifold fuel injection, this smaller engine provides an exemplary synthesis of superior performance, refinement and exemplary fuel economy.

TDI engines

The new 3.0 TDI six-cylinder engine introduces outstanding power and muscle in the sporty business class, offering output and torque highly impressive in every respect: 225 bhp and 450 Newton-metres. Maximum torque is available just above idle speed, starting at a mere 1400 rpm and giving the driver forceful acceleration at all speeds. Further fortes are the engine’s highly efficient noise management and fulfilment of the strict EU 4 emission standards.

This versatility of the highest calibre is based on the latest generation of common rail fuel injection with piezo injectors conveying fuel into the combustion chambers at a pressure of up to 1600 bar and in five carefully graded stages.

The 2.0 TDI four-cylinder version with unit injector is one of the most modern engines in the market today. Again, the particular strength of this engine is its outstanding output and torque combined with equally impressive all-round economy. The new Audi A6 2.0 TDI is able to easily cover a range of more than 1,100 kilometres or 680 miles on one single tank (market launch: the second half of 2004).


The supreme fuel economy and dynamic performance offered by the new Audi A6 also results from the standard fitment of six-speed manual/six-speed automatic transmissions with a wide range of gear increments.

A new highlight of the manual gearboxes is the introduction of the ML gearbox generation, the abbreviation “ML” standing for “Manual/Longitudinal”. The advantages for the driver are enhanced all-round efficiency combined with optimum gearshift operation featuring ultra-short, precise shift travel.

After making its successful production debut in the Audi A6 2.8 in the year 2000, multitronic now once again proves its special qualities in the new A6, combining the benefits of a manual gearbox with those of a geared automatic transmission. A new feature is the introduction of 7 shift stages in the tiptronic mode.

Benefiting from this kind of technology, shift comfort is superior to even a con-ventional automatic converter transmission, while the transmission’s dynamic per-formance and all-round economy can by all means compare with the qualities of a manual gearbox. And whenever the driver wishes to actively intervene in the transmission process, he is able to do so in six predefined stages by means of shift paddles on the steering wheel.

The particularly high-torque 4.2 V8, 3.2 FSI and 3.0 TDI power units are also available with six-speed tiptronic transmission converting the supreme power of these engines into an equally supreme synthesis of operating convenience and dynamism.

quattro permanent all-wheel drive is a typical feature of all high-performance Audi models. With the power unit and drivetrain of the new A6 being fitted longitudinally, all models come with a Torsen centre differential distributing engine torque in a straightforward but very effective flow of power to the front and rear axles and thus making a significant contribution to the driving dynamics and superior safety even in extreme situations so typical of quattro drive.

The 4.2 and 3.0 TDI models come as standard with quattro all-wheel drive, which is optional on the 3.2 FSI.

Driving dynamics and motoring comfort

Torsional stiffness up by more than 34 per cent clearly proves the qualities of the new Audi A6, especially as the previous model was already widely lauded for its supreme strength and stiffness.

Qualities of this kind offer significant advantages in terms of both vibration comfort and driving dynamics. And vibration amplitudes reduced to a minimum provide a clear sign of the exceptional standard of body stiffness, at the same time creating the perfect foundation for excellent acoustics within the interior.

The supreme stiffness of the steel bodyshell is the result of consistently enhanced joining technologies plus optimised panel profiles. At the same time the improve-ment of vibration behaviour ensured by numerous optimised details quite literally set the foundation for the harmonious but nevertheless sporting set-up of the chas-sis. In conjunction with the direct, extremely stable link connecting the steering column to the module subframe, this body configuration is the basic prerequisite for the A6 saloon’s precise handling.

Audi’s dynamic suspension featured on the new A6 is likewise based on sporting, proven technology: the enhanced four-link front suspension acknowledged as a particular Audi stronghold and the self-tracking trapezoidal-link rear suspension carried over from the Audi A8 – a combination featured on both the front-wheel-drive and quattro models.

The result is a standard of dynamic driving behaviour beyond comparison, plus control ease far superior to the competition. Clearly, features of this kind again place the new A6 on the same level as the A8 praised so convincingly by the motoring press. Like the A8, therefore, the A6 is the most sporty and dynamic car in its class, benefiting in this respect also from speed-dependent servotronic featured as standard and supplementing the precise handling of the new A6 by even more sensitive steering precision.

As an alternative to conventional steel springs, adaptive air suspension with air spring elements and adaptive damping front and rear will also be available at the start of 2005. Different settings and levels of hardness available on demand via the MMI control system enable the driver with adaptive air suspension in his car to consistently choose the ideal suspension setting for all road conditions and individual styles of motoring.

Regardless of whether the customer opts for steel springs or air suspension, however, a fundamental feature of the A6 chassis always remains unchanged: its active driving configuration with precisely defined steering behaviour and superior agility. And at the same time the new Audi A6 consistently lives up to the highest standard of luxury performance in terms of vibration and suspension comfort.


Even in standard trim, the new Audi A6 comes with a level of equipment by no means usual even in the luxury class. Right from the start, even at first sight, you will appreciate and enjoy this premium standard in the choice and qualities of materials and finish, aluminium inlays and aluminium wheels, for example, coming as standard features.

A unique asset versus the competition is the Multi Media Interface “MMI basic” comprising not only a 6.5-inch monochromatic display, but also a fully integrated radio complete with a CD player and four loudspeakers. Another standard feature on all A6 models in the range is automatic high-comfort air conditioning with enhanced output and optimised noise control, which is not to be taken for granted even in this segment.

The electromechanical parking brake as well as a light and rain sensor are further standard fitments.

The range of safety equipment featured as standard in the new A6 is just as out-standing, active safety benefiting from the latest generation of ESP including brake assist and Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD).

In the event of a collision the car’s occupants are effectively protected by the ro-bust structure of the body with predefined deformation and a highly stable pas-senger cell. And in conjunction with the seat belts, front and side airbags as well as the sideguard head airbag system give the driver and passengers superior safe-ty and protection.

The two full-size front airbags are activated in two stages, depending on the severity of an accident. Active front head restraints fitted as standard help to protect the occupants in a collision from behind.

The range of optional equipment available in the new Audi A6 again leaves nothing to be desired. Just one example is the choice of 15 different paintwork colours, four of which are new to Audi.

The driver of the new Audi A6 is rarely required to hold the car key in his hand the conventional way. For like on the Audi A8, Audi’s optional advanced key acts as an electronic access and authorisation system: The key incorporates an electronic pulse transmitter sending a signal to a proximity sensor in the door, where the signal received is checked and verified. Following approval, the system unlocks the doors as soon as the driver or passenger pulls the door handle.

Using advanced key, the driver is also able to release the steering and ignition electronically through wireless remote control before setting out. Then all he has to do is start the engine by pressing the button on the centre console.

Numerous equipment options are available to enhance the ambience of the car: highly original leather and cloth variants as well as wood and aluminium trim provide ample freedom of choice to make every A6 a unique, one-off model tailored to its owner.

MMI can be further upgraded by a 7-inch colour display and a DVD navigation system. BOSE Surround Sound, in turn, offers the acoustic qualities of a concert hall.

Radar-based adaptive cruise control efficiently supports the driver of the new Audi A6 in keeping the right distance from the vehicle ahead. Enhancing the standard cruise control system, this sophisticated system raises driving comfort to a significantly higher level by automatically controlling the speed of the car as a function of the pre-selected distance from the vehicle ahead.

In practice this relieves the driver of constantly having to press down the accelerator and brake pedals, adaptive cruise control thus adding a lot more driving pleasure particularly on long trips on the motorway in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Automatic high-comfort air conditioning plus makes a significant contribution to the occupants’ driving pleasure, offering not only separate air distribution and temperature control for the driver and front passenger, but also indirect ventilation, centre air vents with separate temperature control, and an air humidity sensor system. Further features are the residual heat function, automatic air recirculation, and additional rear seat ventilation through the door pillars.

Steering wheels of the latest generation with either three or four spokes are available in wood or leather and may be fitted as an option with multifunction keys for operating the MMI as well as gearshift paddles.

Driving pleasure in the new A6 can be enhanced to an even higher standard by opting for adaptive air suspension or sports suspension with the body lowered by 20 millimetres. And to match this outstanding suspension, there is a choice of various alloy wheels up to 18 inches in size further refining the car’s driving dynamics and sporting look.

The new Audi A6 at a glance:

– New, distinctly sporty exterior and interior design

– Dimensions: L 4.92 m, W 1.86 m, H 1.46 m, wheelbase 2.84 m (+ 83 mm)

– Improved spaciousness in the interior for all passengers

– Powerful TDI and petrol engines:

– new: 4.2 V8 with 246 kW (335 bhp), 420 Nm

– new: 3.2 V6 FSI with 188 kW (255 bhp), 330 Nm

– new: 2.4 V6 with 130 kW (177 bhp), 230 Nm

– new: 3.0 TDI V6 with 165 kW (225 bhp), 450 Nm

– new: 2.0 TDI with 103 kW (140 bhp), 320 Nm

– Manual six-speed gearbox, alternatively six-speed tiptronic or

continuously variable multitronic automatic transmission

– Front-wheel drive or quattro permanent four-wheel drive

– Audi dynamic suspension with four-link front suspension and self-tracking trapezoidal-link rear suspension on front-wheel-drive and quattro versions

– adaptive air suspension as an option (from 2005)

– Speed-dependent servotronic steering as standard

– High-performance brake system with electronic brake assist

– Electromechanical parking brake EPB as standard

– As an option: tyre pressure monitoring system

– New: adaptive light cornering lights with xenon plus and daytime driving lights (option)

– As an option: radar-assisted distance control – adaptive cruise control (from 2005)

– Light and rain sensor as standard

– Multi Media Interface MMI basic with monochrome display as standard

– As an option: advanced key access and authorisation system

– New generation of steering wheels: leather-covered steering wheel as standard

– Automatic air conditioning as standard

– As an option: BOSE Surround Sound System, DVD navigation

– Two-stage activation front airbags, sideguard head airbag system, plus side airbags and active head restraints at the front as standard

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