Audi's latest A6 executive sedan is mildly electrified to deliver comfort and efficiency
Sporty and comfy The interior of the Audi A6 sports open-pore wood inlays and aluminium trim accents as well as a highly digitalised dash and centre console. PHOTO: LIONEL SEAH

Like the A8 and A7, the new Audi A6 has a slew of driver assistance systems. Up to 39, actually.

A 48-volt lithium-ion battery coupled to a belt-driven alternator starter makes the car a "mild hybrid" too. Take your foot off the accelerator at 55 to 160kmh and the A6 will coast with its engine off for up to 40 seconds. Decelerate and the alternator will recharge the battery. Another benefit is near imperceptible auto start-stops.

This system serves to improve comfort and efficiency. Audi claims it reduces fuel consumption by up to 0.7 litres/100km. For the mixed city, highway and mountain pass Porto-to-Douro Valley test-route, I managed 11.3 litres/100km. It is respectable for a big 3-litre sedan, even if it is well off Audi's claimed 7.1 litres/100km.

The car is a handsome executive sedan sharing styling cues with the larger A8. It also shares a similar profile with the outgoing A6. Look closer and you will notice sharper crease lines and bulging rear fenders, reminiscent of the original Audi Quattro.

A wider and lower signature grille flanked by pronounced side air-intakes beneath LED headlamps gives rise to a more athletic face. Likewise, a chrome strip extends across the rear, conjoining restyled LED tail-lights to emphasise the sedan's width and more planted stance.

The car is lower slung, with a barely larger footprint than its forebear. But its wheelbase is 12mm longer at 2,924mm - good news for rear occupants. Boot space remains unchanged at 530 litres. Need more space? No problem. A 40/20/40 split-folding rear seatback will see to that.

Swathed in premium materials, including perforated leather, open-pore wood inlays and aluminium trim accents, the interior is business class. A highly digitalised dash and centre console complete the Audi look.

The A6 gets the latest Multi Media Interface (MMI) infotainment system that does away with most buttons. Even the familiar MMI dial and scribble pad are banished. Instead, double-stacked touch-screen panels take centre stage. The lower 8.6-inch doubles up as a scroll pad, while the upper 10.1-inch panel is a navigation screen and 360-degree camera.

Cool Siri-like voice actuation is part of the package. Equally futuristic is Audi's 12.3-inch "virtual cockpit" instrument panel.

The top-range 3.0 V6 turbo petrol power plant, with 340hp and 500Nm, is the same one in the new A8L and A7. It will easily embarrass many a hot hatch on a straight line. Zero to hundred is accomplished in 5.1 seconds - 0.2 seconds quicker than the portlier (by 55kg), if sportier-looking A7.

The car's all-wheel-drive is likewise efficiency-biased, powering the front wheels unless more traction is needed. At fast roundabouts, turn-in was undramatically neutral.

Even when running on ultra-low profile 21-inch tyres on cobbled streets and unpaved detours, the ride is composed. No doubt, the optional adaptive air suspension helped. The car does not offer the most engaging drive, but it is always quiet, settled and comfy.

It should arrive later this year, followed by a 2.0 Turbo.