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Audi hoping to woo nation's drivers with strong, silent A6



Audi is getting ready to roll out its new A6. It's a big deal for them and they're pulling out all the stops.

At Munich Airport, not far from Audi HQ in Ingolstadt, the front of Terminal 2 is draped in a giant poster which proclaims that the A6 is "superior on all terrain". It's one of many lofty claims made by the car's proud owners.

They've also commandered the plaza between the two terminals to showcase the car. It's not a bad way to kill time between flights and has become a magnet for curious passersby keen to see what all the fuss is about.

More of that anon. The A6 is a seventh generation car, the latest in a line started in 1968 by the noble Audi 100.

Audi says the A6 is now the most successful car in its category. The previous incarnation sold 1.16 million between 2004 and 2010.

It's a flab-free, muscular machine with a striking demeanour, particularly front-on with its LED headlights. The makers liken it to a fencer, thrusting forward all agility and power. What they mean is, it's macho. But macho in a good way. It's very much the strong and silent type, with engine noise at a minimum.

On a test run yesterday in rainy Sicily, we tried out three versions -- the 2.0 TDI, 3.0 TDI (diesels) and 2.8 FSI petrol model.

All handled the wet weather with aplomb, with the 3-litre packing a real punch when overtaking.

They've brought down emissions considerably and increased fuel efficiency.

It's also up to 80kg lighter, thanks to the use of aluminium. Electromechanical steering further boosts economical driving.

The spacious interior is classy and comfortable, coming in a range of trims with nifty leather- clad steering wheels. There's MMI (multi-media interface) which has an 8in screen for sat nav display (including Google link), radio and myriad other technology bits we increasingly rely on. All impressive and relatively user-friendly. And there's lots of room in the boot for the golf clubs.

Enhanced safety features now include 'night vision' which can detect and highlight hazards ahead, like a pedestrian walking along a dark road.

The lights are a highlight. They make the A6 stand out from its competitors, especially the higher-spec Xenon front headlights with LED bulbs. Very sleek and suave.

So there's quite a lot to listen to and I could go on and on. But in the end it all comes down to price. The starting point is the manual 2.0 TDI SE at €42,500. To get on the road, add €800.

This is in band B (road tax of €156). It's a high-spec package, but if you want to go up a level to S Line and get those cool Xenon LED lights you will pay an extra €3,500.

Test models will be in dealerships in mid-March. They're bringing in seven engine types up to a 3.0 TFSI quattro (petrol) at €62,750.

The 3.0 TDI V6 (204PS), with multitronic gearbox, will cost ¿50,700 (Band B). The automatic 2.0 TDI will follow in August.

The A6 is well worth a test drive. They hope 300-500 will buy one here this year.