New hi-tech 2017 Audi A6 is shaping up

Audi A6 exclusive image (watermarked) – front

A dramatic new Audi A6 saloon is due in showrooms within the next 18 months, and our exclusive images show how the BMW 5 Series rival could look.

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.

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.

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.

Audi A6 exclusive image (watermarked) – rear

Classic Audi styling elements such as the single-frame grille will remain, but the slimmer LED headlights, a more muscular front bumper and broader rear haunches in our exclusive images preview what the showroom model could look like. 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.

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. A slick HMI (Human Machine Interface) will replace the mass of buttons and dials on the dash and centre console, while the manufacturer will continue its roll-out of the 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit on high-spec models.

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.