New 2018 Audi A6: First spyshots of Audi’s 5 Series rival

Next A6 will feature evolutionary styling, a host of new tech features and a new platform underneath.

Audi is readying a the next generation of its A6, and our spy photographers have caught a disguised model out testing. The new BMW 5 Series rival is due to arrive in the first half of 2018.

The fifth generation of Audi’s popular executive saloon and estate will borrow much from the new A4. That means we’re expecting sleek, up-to-the-minute styling and, as we’ve come to expect from Audi, a premium interior packed with improved and upgraded technology. Despite this, it’s still going to be a proper Audi, with features like quattro all-wheel drive as well as the choice of practical Avant or Allroad bodystyles.

These fresh spy images show an evolutionary design, with a similar shape and profile but extra creases on the bonnet and a styling line down the side. Whether or not Marc Lichte’s promised design language changes (below) materialise on the finished product, we’ll have to wait and see.

The current A6 is approaching the end of its productive life, and is being superseded left, right and centre by new and stylish models, like the smaller A4, sleek A5 and A5 Sportback as well as the practical Audi Q5 SUV. When the new model arrives it will have to take the fight to established players in the executive market, such as the Mercedes E-Class and the new BMW 5 Series, which should arrive in showrooms in mid-2017.

The A6 is set to be new in every sense of the word, based on an entirely new platform and stuffed with brand-new engines and headline technology features like twin touchscreens, which do away with all the physical cabin controls.

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.

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.

Technology

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.

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.

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.

Engines

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.

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