Audi A6 Matrix – First Drive Review
Tarun has competed in the Raid De Himalayas, holds a national record for endurance driving and trained in the advance levels of the Mercedes AMG driving academy.
There is a new BMW 5 Series coming, a Mercedes E Class is on the anvil too, and so is the new A6 by Audi somewhere on the horizon. But all 3 cars are still sometime away from India, and until such a time arrives, Audi has updated the A6 with a bit more technology to keep its sales figures ticking. And so, there is – for 49.5 lakh of your money (before taxes) – an A6 with more power, better performance, and an intelligent pair of headlamps called Matrix that tend to do devious things in the dark.
First up, there is more power under the hood. The motor now produces 190 hp (from the earlier 177) and more torque too, 400 Nm of it. The earlier car wasn’t a slouch by any Indian measure; it got important people to important meetings, on time and in considerable comfort. But then, Audi engineers sat around a table and decided to add a bit more power, essentially because – they could. So, a couple of lines of new code later, 190 hp poured out of the diesel TDI motor effortlessly and rather quietly, without any sense of urgency or applause. What is all-new however, is the transmission.
The CVT gearbox has been booted in favour of an excitable dual-clutch unit (7 Speed S-Tronic) that slaps gears into place within the moment of demand, through the flick of paddles mounted behind the steering. It is quick and does justice to all the power that is being developed by the 4-pot motor upfront. All the horses pour out of the driveline and onto the tarmac through the front two wheels alone, while the rear two simply follow you around, absorbing bumps and doing suspension things.
Visual changes include a new bumper, new 18-inch alloys, wider & sharper all-chrome grill, flatter tail-lamp design, rectangular exhaust pipes, and the new Matrix headlight system. All of them work well to deliver a charming motoring profile on the road. What is so special about the Matrix headlights? Each headlamp holds 19 individual LEDs that work in tandem with an infrared camera at night to detect traffic ahead. Basically people & cars. Once detected, the computer onboard dims or switches off the individual LEDs that were aiming their light beam at the detected traffic.
This allows you to continuously have your high beam switched ON without the guilt of dazzling anybody in your way and at the same time enjoy maximum visibility. But we are in India, and there will always be drivers coming in the opposite direction all lights blazing intent upon frying your retinas. In moments like these, you want the Matrix wizardry to not work, so you can flash a requisition asking them to lower their beams. All you need to do is switch OFF the ‘auto headlamps’ function because the Matrix tech works only on that setting.
All four corners of the car also come equipped with dynamic turn indicators, which look pretty cool in broad daylight and cooler once the sun goes down. The Matrix tech has trickled down from higher up the Audi spectrum, which tells you two things – one, Audi is serious about out- classing its German friends; and two, the A8 will get something even more advanced perhaps (Laser with Matrix?).
On the inside, the cabin remains just as comfortable and inviting as it was earlier. Updates include a 600W 14 speaker Bose surround sound system, an updated MMI (new graphics card from Nvidia), 4-zone automatic climate control and some new wood inserts. The four primary buttons that sit around the toggle wheel of the MMI on the centre console are now made out of aluminium, and the entire console itself is placed on a wooden base that retains its original texture as against the outgoing model that came with a coat of polish. The space is also equipped with 8 airbags in total, with 2 side airbags dedicated for the rear passengers.
Everything is built up and signed off on German standards.
There are a few pickles though. The leather on the dash for example, I can’t seem to get around it. It can easily pass off as plastic unless you feel it with your hands, at which point you wish Audi had chosen a better color palette and perhaps some contrast stitching to go with it. The deep brown shade just doesn’t work with the rest of the interiors. Second to that, serious audiophiles or people who prefer Bluetooth streaming will continue to wonder why they can’t seem to change tracks from the steering wheel buttons. Using the centre console to change songs is distracting from the driver’s seat.
Then there is the MMI, which has a sharp 8-inch display that shoots out of the dash upon engine ignition and impresses every time. On the functionality front though, it does a host of things, a touch too many to be honest, and gives you the sense that all those extra bit of options were put in there to justify the price tag. Take the touchpad for handwriting input as an example, none of the A6 owners I spoke to use it in everyday life. Novel feature? Yes. Needed? Not so much.
Which brings me to the conclusion. What is the A6? It’s a beautiful German saloon designed and specced for owners who will largely occupy the rear seats. Audi has focussed on it entirely. Comfort and pleasure over performance. The fact that Audi chose to dedicate an entire button for the auto engine start/stop function on the centre console instead of going for a switch that toggles engine modes shows that. The car is armed with an able air suspension that will keep its four occupants properly comfortable. There is even an MMI remote controller housed under the central armrest at the back, and for taller occupants – switches mounted on the door to control the co-driver’s seat settings. The diesel is powerful, the transmission – quick.
Performance is not lacking. The A6 can dart out of traffic rapidly and munch miles effortlessly. There isn’t any drama inside the car at any speed. You demand 50 km/h off the engine and it replies with an ‘ok’, ask for 200 km/h and the response is the same. It’s frugal too. Current owners (with 177hp and CVT) receive 12.5 kilometres to the litre in the city, and updates to the drivetrain should lead to similar efficiency figures.
So if you are looking at the space for a purchase decision, you must be evaluating all available German offerings and British too, perhaps. And the truth is, there really isn’t a bad car out here. All possess unique qualities to offer, but as an overall package, the A6 Matrix holds the edge right now.
Audi A6 Matrix Technical Specifications
- Variant: 35 TDI
- Engine: 2.0-litre TDI Diesel Direct Injection with DOHC No. Of Cylinders: 4
- Power: 190 hp (3,800 – 4,200 RPM)
- Torque: 400 Nm (1,750 – 3,000 RPM)
- Transmission: 7 Speed S-Tronic (with Paddle Shift) Driveline: Front Wheel Drive, Dual Mass
- 0-100 km/h: 8.5 Seconds Top Speed: 226 km/h Drag Coefficient: 0.26
- ARAI Fuel Economy: 18.53 km/l
- Suspension: Adaptive Air Suspension (with Ground Clearance Adjustment)
Audi A6 Matrix Features & Tech
- Matrix LED Headlights
- Dynamic Turn Indicators
- Audi Drive Select: Dynamic/ Comfort/ Auto/ Individual Memory Function on Exterior Mirrors
- Light & Rain Sensors
- Luggage Compartment Lid Release from Inside
- 4-Zone Automatic Air Conditioning
- Milano Leather Upholstery
- Auto Dimming Interior Mirrors
- Ambient Lighting
- Powered Front Seats (with Driver’s Seat Memory Function) Front Passenger Seat Adjustment from
- 18-inch Wheels
- Electromechanical Power Steering
- 8-inch MMI Infotainment Screen with Navigation
- Bose 600W 14 Speaker Surround Sound
- Cruise Control
- Powered Steering Adjustment (Reach & Rake)
- Reverse Camera
- MMI Remote Control for Rear Seat Passengers
- 8 Airbags
- Electronic Stability Control
- Brake Assist
- Electromechanical Parking Brake
Audi A6 Matrix Dimensions
- Length: 4,933 mm Width: 1,874 mm Height: 1,455 mm Wheelbase: 2,912 mm Front Track: 1,627 mm Rear Track: 1618 mm Weight: 1830 kg
- Boot Space: 530 litres