In-depth reviews

Audi A6 hybrid review

Audi was late to the plug-in hybrid party with its A6 TFSI e, but it's a decent enough crack at a tax-efficient large company car

Overall rating

3.5 out of 5

Pros

  • Very efficient
  • Great company car
  • Refined and comfortable

Cons

  • Not that much fun to drive
  • Battery eats into boot space
  • BMW 530e a better all-round package
Car typeElectric rangeFuel economyCO2 emissions
Plug-in hybrid40-43 miles217-235mpg27-32g/km

It has been a long time coming, especially given that just about every rival manufacturer has already jumped on the bandwagon, but in late 2020 Audi finally introduced a plug-in hybrid version of its current-generation A6 executive saloon, which launched back in 2018. The A6 TFSI e is the brand's answer to the BMW 530e, Mercedes E 300 e and Volvo S90 Recharge T8 – all of which exist to satisfy the needs of company-car users.

The 50 TFSI e powertrain in the bulk of the line-up is made up of a familiar 2.0-litre petrol engine working in conjunction with an electric motor. Power for the latter comes from a 17.1 kWh battery, which was upgraded from 14.1kWh in early 2021. Total system output is 295bhp, while Audi claims up to 43 miles of pure-electric range is possible with that larger-than-before battery.

A more powerful 55 TFSI e setup is available, but only in the rather expensive Competition and Competition Vorsprung trim levels at the very top of the range. It ups total output to 362bhp, but the battery is no bigger, so range and efficiency figures aren't all that different to the 50 TFSI e. Company-car users will be most interested in CO2 figures and Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) ratings, so it's good news that with emissions as low as 27g/km, both 50 TFSI e and 55 TFSI e easily qualify for the 11% BiK bracket in the 2021/22 tax year – the same as occupied by their rivals.

Fuel economy claims are impressive, as is the norm in this class. That's because the official figures rely heavily on all-electric running on fully charged batteries – so you have to be sure to keep yours topped up to get close to the official numbers of 217-235mpg. However, if you regularly travel shorter distances within the car's electric range, there's scope to avoid using any fuel – perfect for commuting or trips to the shop.

The A6's closest rivals from Mercedes and BMW are both decent to drive, so it's encouraging that it manages to keep pace in this department. It's a refined and smooth car with a purely petrol or diesel engine fitted, so things are particularly refined when driving on electric power alone. The usual trio of drive modes allow you to make best use of the battery's charge, and when in Auto, the car does a good job of keeping the petrol engine out of the equation unless you push quite hard with your right foot. It's not the most fun from behind the wheel, but it's as effortless and confidence-inspiring as a large Audi should be.

The main difference between the TFSI e and its mild-hybrid counterparts is that there's more weight on board: the car's suspension has had to be adjusted to suit. This means a slightly less supple ride, which – while not exactly uncomfortable – will be noticeable if you've spent time in another A6. Everything you could want from an Audi is present and correct, however: sharp, sophisticated styling, an immaculately built interior and strong infotainment that uses a pair of touchscreens and a third driver's display behind the steering wheel. Equipment is generally good across the range, but it pays to make sure you're getting everything you need on lower-spec models – Sport does without power-adjustable seats, for example.

While it does feel that Audi is late to the party, the A6 TFSI e is a solid contender and a good alternative to its more established rivals. However, the BMW 5 Series is better to drive and the Mercedes E-Class feels a little plusher. There's not much to separate them on running costs, however – especially for company-car users. For a more in-depth look at the Audi A6 TFSI e, check out the rest of our detailed review...

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