New 2018 Audi A6 will get sleeker looks and all-new tech

Audi A6 exclusive image (watermarked) – front

The latest Audi A6 looks set to follow in the footsteps of the A4, offering updated styling coupled with a practical body – with improved and upgraded technology inside to sweeten the deal.

A svelte new exterior design, space-age autonomous technology and efficient hybrid powertrains will be headline news for the fifth-generation saloon, which is likely to debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in Germany in September 2017 before going on sale in 2018.

The A6 will be new in every sense of the word. Everything from the engines to the platform and on-board tech will be box-fresh. This should ensure the Audi can take the fight to Mercedes’ latest E-Class, plus the new 5 Series, due in showrooms in mid-2017.

Design is a further area where we’ll see big changes. Following the arrival of the all-new A8 flagship at the end of this year, the A6 will be one of the first Audis penned by new design boss Marc Lichte. We can expect the German brand to move away from its current ‘Russian doll’ styling to a strategy where each model line will have its own individual identity.

At the front, we’ll see an updated version of Audi’s daytime running light signature, while down the sides there will be wide blistered wheelarches and strong creases. Expect to see a strip of bright chrome on the rear, too.

Audi A6 exclusive image (watermarked) – rear

A practical Avant and rugged A6 Allroad will be launched off the back of the new saloon, along with a more image-led four-door A7 Sportback. The Avant will be bigger and more practical than the existing model, but with a more steeply raked rear screen and less boxy looks.

While Audi will consciously distance the A6 from the A8 in terms of appearance, the exec will benefit from its big brother’s autonomous safety and on-board tech. Its cabin architecture will also be a total shift from that of today’s A6. Gone is the scroll-wheel driven Audi MMI system – in fact, gone are all traditional buttons, with the cabin controlled solely by two screens seamlessly integrated into the centre console. Audi is also promising new haptic touchscreens that will give feedback to your finger – a first in the automotive world.

The Prologue concept seen at the Los Angeles Motor Show back in 2014 was a thinly veiled glimpse at what the new A6 will look like. Bosses have previously said that the Prologue was developed after the A6 project had been signed off, hinting at the concept’s real-world design cues.

The A6 will share its new MLB platform with the A8, reducing weight by around 100kg. This means it will be one of the first mainstream Audi models to feature the 48-volt electrical system and electric turbocharging from the new SQ7. In the SUV the set-up has been geared to deliver additional performance, but bosses have previously told Auto Express it can be tweaked to prioritise fuel economy. The electric turbo tech is likely to be applied to a 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engine.

Of course, the regular 2.0 diesel will make up the bulk of A6 sales, alongside a range of four-cylinder petrol turbos and six-cylinder diesels. A frugal plug-in hybrid e-tron capable of around 32 miles on battery power alone will be introduced, too. It’s also likely that Audi will remove the availability of a manual gearbox, offering the A6 with seven and eight-speed dual-clutch autos only.

The 48-volt electronic system will offer a raft of new autonomous kit that we’ll first see on the A8. Audi’s proposed piloted driving tech will include ‘traffic-jam pilot’. This will hand over full control to the vehicle, allowing it to alter speeds and steering inputs independently at speeds of up to 37mph.

The A6 will launch following the arrival of the flagship A8 saloon next summer, with prices starting from around £35,000.