Audi A6 C5, one of the cheapest to buy and run boats that you can buy today. But is the old Audi A6 C5 still relevant in 2020?
Launched in 1997 with the hope of VW that Audi will move from the area of cheap cars to the premium bunch, the Audi A6 C5 is part of the last generation of old-fashioned Audi. Just as the BMW E90 made the transition from mechanical to digital, so did the Audi A6 C5 from the mechanical A6 C4 to the digital but dubious A6 C6.
Where does the Audi A6 C5 sit in 2020?
Much like an old school car that was built to last, still on the road. It’s just that, much like with the VW Golf 4 or the VW Passat B5.5 with which it is mechanically similar, no matter how sturdy a car will be, it will still lose the fight against time. But until the time comes, you can do billions of miles with an A6 C5. What is expensive is rarely damaged and the regular parts have an average to decent lifespan. What’s interesting about the A6 C5 is that it has that classic barge style. This car is not to be driven, it is to be steered. You need a crew to steer this lazy boy in the bends. About as agile in the bends as Jennifer Livingston, the old A6 C5 is a torpedo on the straight line. Seriously, an Audi A6 C5 doesn’t feel right with an petrol engine and pottering about in the city, this ship is at it’s best with a fat diesel and off to the motorway it is.
What kind of person would be in the market for an Audi A6 C5 in 2020?
Exactly for those people who are afraid of technology and who are 50 years old, have a beer gut, a leather hat and a pipe. People who somehow made money in their lives and want a good car but still do not want to dive into an Audi A8 D2, another car for those full of money but afraid of technology. Because this car has little in the ways of technology, performance and is not a sensitive family car either. Nope, an Audi A6 C5 takes its owner from his cottage to his shop or factory and brings him back, in a level of comfort that is satisfactory to him.
Audi A6 C5 Engines
- 1.8 20v of 125 horsepower – The smallest of the small, this engine needs it’s timing belt replaced every 4 years or 100,000 km (which is the first) and the MAF more frequently. Too small for the A6, you have neither good consumption, nor reliability, nor sportiness. Basically, you constantly live like you just left the dentist’s cabinet – with the money taken and with pain.
- 1.8T 150 horsepower – Pretty much the same 1.8 20v, but now with a turbo strapped to it. It comes with the same issues and as a bonus it has an appetite for coilpacks. A spectacular engine for the A4 B6, but on the A6 C5 it is just too small.
- 2.0 of 131 horsepower – Slower than 1.8T, the good old ALT is more out of place than an irish person in an library. Besides, 2.slow ALT develops oil incontinence and starts chugging it down later in life.
- 2.4 V6 of 165 and 170 horsepower – If you pair an LPG installation with this fantastic engine, then you get one mighty combo. A reliable engine with a moderate oil consumption that won’t give you too much trouble. You just have to be careful and keep in mind that it is a V6 and maintenance will be more expensive than a 4-cylinder engine.
- 2.7T of 230 and 250 horsepower – We are entering now in the performance territory, because the same engine that powered the S4 B5 comes on the Audi A6 C5 to wreak even havoc. And it will wreak havoc to your gut, panties, heart and budget. Before buying such a mastodon, you should know that the transmission of this engine lasts only 80,000 km.
- 2.8 V6 of 190 horsepower – If you’re looking for an Audi A6 C5 most likely you’re going to skip this engine. If you want performance and taxes don’t bother you, you got the monstrous 2.7 Turbo. Plus a 2.4 V6 has only 20 horsepower less but it’s also much easier on taxes. This engine is the middle man-child of the Audi A6 C5 engines.
- 3.0 V6 of 220 horsepower – Again, an engine with a bigger existential crisis than a student who graduated from college and is now wondering where to go. In its good days, this 3.0 V6 made sense on an A6 C5, but in 2020 you have to have a bizarre fetish to buy such an engine. And if you really have a bizarre fetish with this torpedo with internal combustion, you should rather go for the A4 B6 and turn it up to 11.
- 4.2 V8 of 300, 340, 450 and 480 horsepower – The very first Audi S6 and RS6. Amen to these monsters. The fact that these engines are built even today says something about their performance. Devilishly fast, devilishly expensive.
- 1.9 TDI of 110, 116 and 131 horsepower – The 110 and 116 horsepower are as muscular as Graham Norton and have fragile turbos, so go for the 131 horsepower version. A fantastic engine, but it does not excel on the Audi A6 C5. Adequate, but not fast.
- 2.5 TDI V6 of 155, 163 and 180 horses – The most suitable engine for the Audi A6 C5, this mastodon has nothing to do with the city driving, and the first versions (AFB, AKM, AYM and AKE) have serious camshaft issues. The 163 horsepower BDH and 180 horsepower BAU versions however come with titanium cams and no more issues. One of the worst city engines and one of the best engines on the country roads. Yes, the Multitronic automatic transmission does not cope with the torque of the 2.5 TDI, so you will have to limit yourself to a manual transmission.
Audi A6 C5 General Issues
- The complex and fragile front suspension found on the A4 B6, Passat B5.5 and Skoda Superb 3U is also up for scandal on the Audi A6 C5. Built to provide comfort on Germoney’s paved roads, this complex system quickly gives up on our roads.
- The hideous CVT Multitronic automatic transmission, used for front-wheel drive models, also debuts on the Audi A6 C5. For the Quattro models, the Tiptronic box was used, which is safe from notable issue. But that Multitronic box is as useful as a friend telling you that “I would help you brother, but I can’t” whenever you call him.
Audi A6 C5 Verdict
The list of specific issues is short, as is the list of options and technology. If you want a big car with which to travel the roads of the country with a low budget and above average comfort, then an Audi A6 C5 is an inspired choice. However, as I said at the beginning, no matter how good a car is, it will inevitably lose the battle with time. And most models have over 700,000 km at the moment, so you have to think if you want a long-term A6 C5. Because if you decide to buy one, you can forget about it’s resell value. Either keep it until it rusts away, or sell it for a 6 pack of Fosters.
What engines do I recommend? If your maintenance budget is comparable to a student’s budget on parent’s money, then the 131 horsepower 1.9 TDI engine is the one to go for. If, however, the budget is not as tight as a Libresse, then go for a 183 horsepower 2.5 TDI and enjoy the full experience.