REVIEW | Well, hello there! Reacquainted with Audi as we drive the new A6

• Audi A6 40 TDI impresses with good all-round package.

• 2.0-litre diesel engine has plenty of oomph.

• This Audi has a theoretical range of more than 1000km.

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In 2017, I returned home to Cape Town following a week-long visit to China for a motor vehicle launch. Upon my arrival, an Audi A5 2.0 TDI (before the new naming convention) was waiting at the airport as a test vehicle.

I recall it so vividly,a  because it would be the last time I would drive any Audi product as Volkswagen Group South Africa went into a new strategy with regards to the scheduling of test vehicles.

Little over three years later and I find myself getting comfortable behind the wheel of the new Audi A6 40 TDI (new naming convention) S Line. While entirely different to 2017's A5, it was a welcome reminder of why Audi's vehicles are so well-liked.

Audis might not carry the appeal of a BMW or Mercedes-Benz, but you are not confused with regards to what you are dealing with.

2020 Audi A6

2020 Audi A6 interior (QuickPic)

Is that a smile?

The first drive in the A6 was somewhat different, but in a good way. Navigating through the operating controls (starter button, gear lever, indicators) came like second nature, and you quickly realise that the space you're in is a familiar one. Everything is functional, even with the huge tablet-like screens in front of the gear lever from where you can operate the media and climate controls.

I was particularly fond of the steering wheel that fits snugly in my palms. It was like shaking hands with an old friend and immediately picking up where you left off. I smiled - a subtle one - because it became apparent that today's Audis are vastly different from the cars of three years ago. As it should be!

The car soaks up undulations, the suspension reacts sufficiently to the driving mode you're in, and steering-feel is nimble yet assuring.

2020 Audi A6

2020 Audi A6 40 TDI (Wheels24 / Charlen Raymond)

Really fuel-efficient

An aspect that surprised me was how economical this A6 40 TDI is. Powered by a 2.0-litre diesel engine, the car is said to return an average of 5.2-litres/100km. Now, with 140kW and 400Nm that's available between 1750 - 3000rpm, I sure can believe that - provided you drive gently. My driving style, though, ranged from pussyfooting about to aggressive acceleration, with the latter undoubtedly affecting consumption negatively.

Still, over the 300km I drove the car, the onboard computer gave a reading of about 6.5-litres/100km. That, on its 73L fuel tank, should provide this A6 with a theoretical range of 1123km. The (optional) adaptive cruise control will do its part also to reduce consumption, but the car is rewarding enough for you to take charge of operations.

WATCH: Driving the Audi A7 55 TFSI

That's an aspect where the A6 won me over. Despite its front-wheel-drive configuration, it reacts with intent to throttle inputs, yet can be as meek as a lamb when you want it to be. And the seven-speed automatic gearbox responds intently to inputs from the steering wheel-mounted paddles. Those splurging on a car like this will not do so for performance reasons, but would want to know that there's enough oomph to perform, for example, an overtaking manoeuvre.

2020 Audi A6

2020 Audi A6 40 TDI (Wheels24 / Charlen Raymond)

In summary

I knew that this Audi would impress, but just how much I could not predict. Though sports cars are just about everyone's default choice, this car could not have been a better reintroduction to Audi and its products. The svelte nature of the car impressed endlessly, and the cabin is a classy affair.

The three-year break ended on a, dare I say it, perfect note with the arrival of the A6 40 TDI because in this case absence made the heart grow fonder.

Price: R966 200