So, you’re interested in an Audi for your next car but you’re anxious to get the best bang for your buck. There doesn’t seem to be massive differences from model to model, but there certainly does in the price tag!
How different are the Audi A4 and the A6? Which has the best array of tech? Which has the snazziest interior? Which offers more practicality? We’re going to pin the A4 and A6 head-to-head here and let you know which one will suit your needs and preferences best.
Audi A4 vs Audi A6
The A4 and A6 are both fantastic picks from the Audi line-up - but where is your money best spent?
- Doors: 4
- Engine: 4.2
- Fuel: P, D
- Body: Saloon
- Drive: M, A
- CO2: 322g/km
- Doors: 4
- Engine: 5.2
- Fuel: P, D, H
- Body: Saloon
- Drive: M, A
- CO2: 346g/km
Virtual Cockpit standard on all trims
Sporty exterior design
Quattro not standard
Standard safety kit is basic
Cleaner dash with touchscreen infotainment
Audi Virtual Cockpit not standard
Higher than average price for its class
In true Audi fashion, it’s hard to distinguish between the A4 and A6 at first glance
If you are actively looking for differences, however, you’ll notice that the A4 has a tauter, sharper design. It has one of the most aerodynamic silhouettes in its class. The LED headlights and taillights differ in shape too. The base trim of the A4 comes with 17-inch ‘10-spoke crystal’ design alloy wheels, whereas the A6 is fitted with 18-inch ‘5-arm design’ alloy wheels. The A6 has a longer body, but the distinctions end there.
Both cars are available in the standard saloon body style, as an estate (avant), the more rugged allroad quattro variation, and a performance S model.
There is barely anything in it when it comes to exterior design of the two, and much of it will come down to personal taste. We think the A4 has a sportier edge to it but the A6 looks more executive, oozing Audi’s premium appeal.
With the A4, you have a wider selection of engines to choose from. Take your pick from 3 petrol and 3 diesel engines with 7-speed S tronic transmission or a 6-speed manual on the 35 TFSI engine. On the A6, there are 4 engines in total, 2 petrol quattro, 1 diesel with 7-speed S tronic and another diesel with 8-speed tiptronic transmission. The A6 takes the lead in terms of engine power with improved torque and horsepower.
Most A6 variations come with Audi quattro as standard but you’ll have to pay extra for this with the A4 unless you pick the top-tier engines. The front-wheel drive is fine but not a match to quattro all-wheel drive. Regardless, both cars have impressively precise handling. The difference in driving experience is more noticeable with the raised ride height when you’re behind the wheel of the A6 allroad quattro.
It also takes a keen eye to separate the two interiors!
On the basic trim, the A4 Saloon interior comes with Index cloth seat upholstery as standard whilst the A6 Saloon interior comes with Twin leather seats, so that is a giveaway as to which car comes with a higher price tag - you’ll have to upgrade to the A4 S Line Trim for comfier Sports driver seats. The dash on the A6 is also much cleaner - the MMI Infotainment system uses twin touch screens with haptic and acoustic feedback. The A4 is a little clunkier looking, featuring just one infotainment screen and the traditional dials and buttons take up the rest of the space. Both cars have automatic climate control, a rearview camera, and a sunroof.
One point which may surprise you, however, is that Audi’s Virtual Cockpit comes standard in the A4 but not on the A6 until you upgrade to the top-tier Vorsprung trim at £61,415. This fully digital instrument cluster allows you to keep your eyes ahead of you, displaying your sat nav, speedometer and more behind the steering wheel, rather than the middle of the dash. Audi's Tech Pack is also an optional extra on both.
Audi’s Virtual Cockpit is such a fantastic feature that we say the A4 wins here. At an already premium price, we don’t see why Audi couldn’t have chucked it in as standard on even one of the lower A6 trims. The dual touch screen infotainment screen on the A6 is attractive, but the graphics are poorer than those you’d find in luxury sedans from other manufacturers, and the touchscreen is quite hard to get the hang of while driving.
The A6 is a bigger car, so we’ll cut out the suspense and just tell you now that it wins in the practicality category.
Both have seating capacity for 5. There is a touch more headroom and legroom for front seat passengers in the A4 but if you regularly have backseat passengers, the A6 is much roomier.
The A4 Saloon boot space comes in at 480 litres, whilst the A6 Saloon boot space can fit up to 530 litres with the rear seats up. The difference is larger still in the Avant models. The A4 Avant boot space holds a capacity of 495 litres, whilst the A6 Avant boot space boasts a solid 565 litres.
You should have no concerns about safety with either car. Both earned 5 stars in the Euro NCAP safety test. Each has standard safety tech like anti-lock brakes and side-curtain airbags, and both have cruise control but you’ll have to fork out extra for anything more. The A6 comes with Lane Departure Warning and Forward-Collision Braking as standard which gives it an edge.
The A6 is the most practical of the two cars but the A4 doesn’t come far behind. If you can afford to splash the extra cash and you’re desperate for a bigger boot or some extra tech features, it’s worth going for the A6. If you can live with the smaller body of the A4, you can simply pay a little extra for the particular features you want.
The price of the A4 is pretty standard when pinned against others in its class like the BMW 3 Series. The A6, however, is higher than average. The Mercedes E Class priced at £37,545 and BMW 5 Series at £36,525, shaving two grand off the A6 starting price.
For the absolute entry level A4 petrol engine, you’ll see a fuel economy of 49.6 mpg. Switch to the 30 TDI Technik 4dr S Tronic (diesel) engine in insurance group 22, and your fuel tank will stay fuller for longer, reaching 70.6 mpg!
The entry level Audi A6 petrol, the Sport 45 TFSI Quattro 4dr S Tronic yields 43.5 mpg. Want a diesel? The Audi A6 Sport 40 TDI Sport 4dr S Tronic can do 62.8 mpg and sits in the insurance group 30.
According to the reliability index, the A4 racks up average repair costs over 5 years of £581.16. The A6 actually comes in slightly lower at £541.75.
Overall, the A6 is obviously going to cost more as it's a more premium model and has a larger fuel-guzzling body style.
Aesthetically, the two cars are neck in this A4 vs. A6 competition. They have subtle differences between them so it’s down to your personal preference - do you prefer the slightly more compact, taut design of the A4 or the longer and ever so slightly more executive design of the A6? Personally, we think the A6 looks more premium.
When it comes down to driving, the A6 offers the best handling and the most oumph, short of upgrading to the Audi S4. Surprisingly, the A4 trumps the A6 when it comes to interior tech, though we prefer the dashboard design of the A6. The A6 offers greater practicality by a margin.
We say, if you have the extra cash, then you can’t go wrong with the A6 (with the addition of Audi’s Virtual Cockpit) as your next new car. But if you can compromise on a few litres of boot space and a bit of engine power, then the A4 is a solid choice.
Still not sold yet? Check out our Audi A4 vs A5 post. And if you quite fancy the A6 but want to know what else is out there, take a look at our Audi A6 vs BMW 5 Series and Audi A4 vs BMW 3 Series post. You can also check out our Audi A4 Avant, A4 Saloon, A4 Allroad, A6 Avant, A6 Saloon and A6 Allroad reviews.