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The new Audi A6’s familiar design hides a smarter, cleaner sedan

Audi will continue its top-down model offensive at the annual Geneva Auto Show. The German company will display the all-new A6 for the first time.

Now in its fifth generation, the A6 receives evolutionary design changes. It’s still recognizable as an A6 thanks to styling cues like sharp headlights and a wide rendition of Audi’s signature hexagonal grille. The big difference this time around is that it stands apart from other members of the company’s lineup, like the new A7 we drove recently and the A8 flagship. Each model gets its own styling identity.

Creases in the bodywork give the sedan a more muscular stance when it’s viewed from the side. Out back, it wears intricate-looking lights connected by a thin strip of chrome trim. The overall design gives the A6 an elegant, understated look. Audi promises it stands out even at night thanks to a unique light signature that makes full use of the LEDs embedded in both lights.

The high-tech treatment continues in the cabin. Step inside and you’ll find the innovative triple-screen setup that seeped down from the A7. The first is Audi’s digital instrument cluster, a unit the driver can configure to show a wide variety of information. The second screen is a haptic-enabled, driver-oriented unit that runs the infotainment system. Finally, the third screen groups the climate control settings and functions as a notepad for the handwriting-recognition software. It’s all easier to use than it might sound, and it looks good, to boot.

Audi hasn’t published technical specifications for the American-spec model yet. In Europe, the A6 will launch with a turbocharged, 3.0-liter V6 engine tuned to deliver 340 horsepower and 368 pound-feet of torque. It spins the four wheels through a seven-speed automatic transmission and the company’s famed Quattro all-wheel drive system. The six-cylinder gains a belt alternator starter (BAS) linked to a lithium-ion battery pack to form a mild hybrid system, which saves fuel in everyday driving.

The latest A6 drives better than the outgoing model thanks to the clever use of such technology as progressive steering, which makes the sedan easier to turn at low speeds while gradually adding weight as the pace picks up. The list of options includes four-wheel steering and a full air suspension, though there’s no word yet on whether we’ll see those features in America.

The new Audi A6 will arrive in showrooms in time for the 2019 model year. Pricing hasn’t been released yet. When it lands, it will compete in the same segment as the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, the BMW 5 Series, and the Volvo S90. Expect the sporty S- and RS-badged models to join the family shortly after the standard A6.

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