THE A6 is arguably the model that best represents the core spirit of Audi, with a DNA that stretches back to the original 100 of 1968. It’s never been a big seller in Australia, outdone by rivals from Mercedes-Benz and BMW, but that’s likely to change with the introduction of the fourth-generation C7 A6 – especially in four-cylinder, front-wheel-drive form tested here.

We sampled petrol and diesel 2.0-litre four-pot A6s and both are certainly impressive enough to fight for class honours. The 2.0 TDI develops 130kW and 380Nm, while sipping only 5.0L/100km on the combined cycle and emitting just 132g/km of CO2, while the petrol 2.0 TFSI makes 132kW and 320Nm, with a combined fuel figure of 6.4L/100km and 149g/km. Both employ stop-start tech and put their power to the road via Audi’s Multitronic CVT auto.

With the TDI revving so easily and delivering an extra hit of torque, it’s hard to make a case for the thirstier TFSI, especially as it’s slower from rest to 100km/h (8.3sec plays 8.2). Left to its own devices, the CVT keeps both engines in the middle of their torque bands in gentle driving, and that’s where the diesel works best, pulling this 1585kg car without fuss. A little too much diesel drone filters through to the cabin, even on a light throttle, but otherwise the drivetrain is difficult to fault.

Punting the A6 across the most challenging roads of South Australia’s Barossa Valley revealed no dynamic vices, though this big front-driver is hardly ‘sporting’. The electrically-assisted steering is benign and effective, lacking ultimate feel but providing enough feedback to keep you interested, while the trade-off between ride comfort and handling is well-judged – it rides comfortably and it understeers, which will suit owners focused more on equipment level and badge kudos.

Standard kit on the base car is impressive – it includes leather trim, sat-nav with MMI (Multi Media Interface) touchpad and an eight-inch screen, keyless entry, dual-zone climate control and eight airbags. The interior is probably the car’s best feature – it’s mini-A8, designed, built and finished to a peerless standard.

A sub-7.0L/100km figure qualifies both the TDI and TFSI for Luxury Car Tax green car dispensation – prices start at $77,900 for the TFSI and $78,900 for the diesel. As a package, it’s more competitive than any previous A6. As a car, it’s good enough to beat its rivals on its own merit.

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