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Test drive: LLM motoring editor Lisa Curtiss reviews the Audi A6 Saloon E-Hybrid

By Lisa Curtiss  |  September 23, 2021
Audi A6 Saloon E-Hybrid

Whilst SUVs are the vehicle type of choice for many these days, there are saloons which are certainly still worthy of consideration. The A6 Saloon 50 TFSI e is among those at the top of the list for its performance, engaging drive, space, sleek styling and plug-in hybrid benefits. This makes it particularly attractive to those wanting an environmentally focused luxury executive class car for enterprise and family purposes.

With the likes of Tesla typically being at the forefront of our minds when it comes to electric vehicles, we may be forgiven for not realising Audi actually developed their first petrol-electric hybrid executive class car over thirty years ago. This A6 benefits from decades of experience in perfecting hybrid delivery. It seamlessly marries TFSI power with electrical energy using intelligent quattro on demand technology, with scope for zero local emissions and the ability of driving for up to 34 miles on a single charge. Swift as well as frugal, our 252PS/370Nm quattro S tronic model on test delivers the 0-60 sprint in just 6.2 seconds and in electric-only mode could easily cruise at speeds of up to 84mph. Co2 emissions are just 35g/km.

To help owners make their car journeys as eco-efficient as possible, the A6 50 TFSI e has been configured to enable most daily journeys to be done electrically. Owners can choose between the three drive modes; EV for all-electric driving, Hybrid for the efficient combination of both drive types and Hold to conserve the electrical energy available at any given time.

In Hybrid mode, the predictive operating strategy ensures maximum efficiency and the highest possible proportion of electric driving. It controls the drivetrain so that the last stage of the journey before reaching a destination can be covered in all-electric mode and the battery is primed for intervention beforehand via the combustion engine where necessary.

Audi A6 Saloon E-Hybrid front view

The predictive efficiency assistant is responsible for anticipatory planning at each stage of the journey, and can refer to a large amount of information during the decision-making process, including navigation information, online traffic events, customer driving characteristics and data from vehicle sensors such as the camera and radar. It coordinates the interplay between the engine and motor and decides when the conditions are right to initiate freewheeling with the engine deactivated and coasting recuperation.

On test, the car was an engaging, swift, agile and sure-footed drive (thanks to Audi’s excellent quattro system). We appreciated the instant power delivery, firm ride, ample torque and precise steering, and the ability to facilitate electric running as much as possible. Plus charging was pretty swift and easy – reassuring during the long motorway trips we took.

Easy charging

For maximum convenience, at the end of your trips the A6 50 TFSI e can be simply plugged into a domestic AC 7kW wallbox using the Type 2 cable supplied, and around two and a half hours later the battery will be fully charged.

By downloading the myAudi app, which is freely available on iOS and Android platforms, the driver can pre-set the most cost-effective home charging schedule for the car that takes advantage of cheaper off-peak electricity supply periods, and can also remotely activate and adjust the climate control via a smartphone or tablet to ensure that their car is not only fully charged, but also perfectly heated or chilled when they return to it.

Audi A6 Saloon E-Hybrid rear view

Charging is of course also possible at public charging points with an output of up to 7.4 kW, in which case the recharge process can be completed in upwards of 2.5 hours.

The myAudi app can also help here by locating charging points across the country, and also by giving remote access to a sophisticated route planner. This can factor criteria such as the battery’s specific state of charge and the density of traffic in real time into its route guidance and use this to pinpoint exactly where and when charging should ideally take place on any given journey. Payment for public charging is super easy too with the app – which can group together all charging costs into one simple monthly invoice.

Sleek styling and high tech

It’s not all about eco-creds and efficiency though. The A6 is a spacious car for family journeys with a good sized boot. Despite its sleek lines, it’s light and airy and affords ample head, knee and shoulder room.

The car is also one of the more stylish saloons around and bristling with the latest tech. Our model on test was elegantly eye-catching in metallic Typoon Grey, with a black leather interior. There are a host of choices though including Black Edition and Vorsprung versions which feature 20” alloys and the other black styling elements, privacy glass and either Matrix LED or HD Matrix LED headlamps for maximum attention-grabbing appeal.

Audi A6 Saloon E-Hybrid interior

Those who enjoy more subtle styling can of course choose the Sport model with its 18-inch alloy wheels and LED headlamps or the S line with its 19-inch wheel upgrade, lowered sports suspension, S line body styling and Matrix LED lamps with signature LED rear lamps.

All versions includes the sophisticated all-digital MMI Touch Response system featuring two easy to use touchscreens providing haptic and acoustic response to inputs and also supporting natural language voice control. The system is shown in its best light by pairing it with the MMI Navigation Plus package as standard, bringing a corresponding increase in the size of the upper display screen to 10.1 inches from the standard 8.8, replacing the standard analogue dials in the binnacle with the crisply rendered Audi Virtual Cockpit and granting access to the internet at LTE Advanced speeds via the Audi Connect module.

Highlights shared by all the A6 plug-in hybrids also include the Audi smartphone and music interfaces, Audi phone box wireless charging and integration of Amazon’s cloud-based Alexa voice control, bringing access to over 80,000 Alexa functions, including the ability to place orders from the car, stream favourite playlists and audiobooks and control smart devices at home from the driver’s seat.

In summary, this sleek and stylish Audi saloon perfectly marries sound eco running credentials with space, performance, driver engagement and luxury, class leading quality.