SPRUNG undergoing winter testing in blizzard-bound Northern Europe are disguised versions of the next-generation Audi A6, about a year ahead of the model’s anticipated launch early in 2018.
The good news is that Ingolstadt’s answer to the recently redesigned Mercedes-Benz E-Class and upcoming BMW 5 Series seems to have at last shed its neat but derivative looks for the more progressive lines previewed by the 2014 Audi Prologue show car.
This is most evident in the prototype’s sculptured profile and more sharply tapered nose, providing tantalising clues to what the next wave of three-box Audis might look like. A longer wheelbase and wider tracks also serve to give this C8-series sedan more road presence than today’s six-year old iteration.
Of course, in wagon-crazy Germany, an A6 Avant will also follow, as well as the now-obligatory Allroad high-riding crossover version to take on the soon-to-be-released locally Mercedes E-Class All Terrain. An A7 Sportback offshoot is also in the pipeline for 2019.
Expect marginal though important increases in interior space as well, along with an evolution of the company’s signature Virtual Cockpit Display first seen in the Audi TT sports car three years ago.
Speaking of evolution, the 2018 A6 will brandish a modified iteration of Audi’s MLB Evo modular longitudinal architecture also underpinning the latest Audi Q7, A4, and the completely redesigned A8 luxury sedan set for unveiling sometime before the end of 2017.
Invariably, this will lead to a measurably lighter yet stronger platform than before (to the tune of about 100kg, we hear), as well as hybrid and full electrification compatibility, as part of Audi’s e-tron sub-brand of low-to-zero emissions vehicles. Interestingly, as a result, a 48-volt electrical system will be a key engineering upgrade on all models regardless of their EV status.
Whether we see any of these A6 green machines in Australia is still anybody’s guess, so instead count on a bevy of direct-injection turbo powertrains starting with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engines, stretching to 3.0-litre V6s and 4.0-litre V8s in the top-end variants. Some are believed to be in line for an electric turbocharging system, as per the Audi SQ7 performance SUV.
Transmissions are likely to be developments of the seven-speed S tronic DSG dual clutch gearboxes in the interests of refinement and smoothness in lower end variants, while higher grades might switch to torque converter autos with at least eight speeds.
Front as well as all-wheel drive options will be offered, with the latter expected to leverage Audi’s efficient new lightweight Ultra quattro on-demand all-wheel drive system introduced in last year’s Audi A4 Allroad quattro.
The A6 has long been a bit of a technological test bed for its maker, with the C8 series said to be ready for more advanced versions of “level three” autonomous driving tech, which accelerate, stop, and steer a piloted vehicle to help avoid accidents.
Pricing should mirror today’s A6 range, with the 2.0-litre front-drive models kicking off from about $85,000, stretching to a cool quarter of a million bucks for the eventual RS6 uber high-performance hot-shots designed to take on the imminent Mercedes-AMG E63 S AWD and as-yet unseen BMW M5.
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