Tuning the A6

"Audi A6 - a Good Performance Sleeper with the right Mods & Upgrades."

The big daddy of the Audi range. The car comes in saloon and estate versions and despite its large size is actually very agile particularly with the Quattro setup. This article and companion video will take you through your upgrade options for the A6 and help you make decent power gains.

The Audi A6 was first introduced in 1994. It's a popular mid-size luxury sedan from Audi a sophisticated and elegant sedan that exudes luxury and refinement.

Its timeless exterior design with clean lines and understated elegance will appeal to those who appreciate understated style. The interior is equally impressive with its high-quality materials, comfortable seating, and generous legroom and headroom for both front and rear passengers.

See our video which covers all the principles of tuning your Audi A6.

The Audi A6 offers a luxurious driving experience that is both comfortable and refined. Its well-tuned suspension soaks up bumps and potholes with ease, while its powerful engines provide ample power for both city and highway driving. The A6 also handles well, making it a pleasure to drive on winding roads.

The Audi A6 offers ample passenger and cargo space, making it a great choice for both daily commutes and weekend getaways.

The rear seats offer ample legroom and headroom for both adults, and the trunk has a spacious 13.7 cubic feet of cargo space. With the rear seats folded down, the cargo space expands to 36.9 cubic feet.

Engines: Over the years, the Audi A6 has been available with a range of engines. Here's a summary of some of the engines offered in different versions:

  1. Initial Release (1994): (essentially an Audi 100)C4 Generation (1994-1997):
    • 1.8 L I4
    • 2.0 L I4
    • 2.2 L turbo I5
    • 2.3 L I5
    • 2.6 L V6
    • 2.8 L V6
    • 4.2 L V8
    • 1.9 L I4 TDI
    • 2.5 L I5 TDI
  2. C5 Generation (1997-2004):
    • petrol
    • 1.8 L 20v I4
    • 1.8 L turbo 20v I4
    • 2.0 L 20v I4
    • 2.4 L 30v V6
    • 2.4 L 30v BDV V6
    • 2.7 L turbo 30v V6
    • 2.8 L 30v V6
    • 3.0 L 30v V6
    • 4.2 L 40v V8
    • 4.2 L turbo 40v V8
    • diesel
    • 1.9 L TDI I4
    • 2.5 L 24v V6 TDI
  3. C6 Generation (2004-2011):
    • 2.0 L I4 Turbo
    • 2.4 L V6
    • 2.8 L V6 FSI
    • 3.0 L V6 (China)
    • 3.0 L V6 Supercharged
    • 3.2 L V6 FSI
    • 4.2 L V8
    • 5.0 L V10 biturbo
    • 5.2 L V10
    • 2.0 L I4 TDI
    • 2.7 L V6 TDI
    • 3.0 L V6 TDI
  4. C7 Generation (2011-2018):
    • 1.8 L TFSI I4 (China)
    • 2.0 L TFSI I4
    • 2.5 L FSI V6 (China)
    • 2.8 L FSI V6
    • 3.0 L Supercharged V6
    • 2.0 L I4 Diesel
    • 3.0 L V6 Diesel
  5. C8 Generation (2018-present):
    • 2.0L 4-cylinder TFSI petrol engine.
    • 3.0L V6 TFSI petrol engine.
    • Mild-hybrid technology integrated into various powertrains for improved efficiency.

Versions and Differences: The Audi A6 has evolved through several generations, with each generation bringing significant updates. Here's an overview of the main differences and updates between each revision:

  1. C4 to C5:
    • Enhanced interior and exterior styling.
    • Improved safety features.
  2. C5 to C6:
    • Introduction of the MMI (Multi Media Interface) system.
    • Enhanced handling and performance.
  3. C6 to C7:
    • Further refinement of the MMI system.
    • Improved fuel efficiency and reduced emissions.
  4. C7 to C8:
    • More advanced technology features, including advanced driver-assistance systems.
    • All engines were improved in terms of both reliability, power output and reduced emissions.
    • Introduction of mild-hybrid powertrains.

The absolute tuners dream has to be the early S6 turbo or the later RS6.

Both engines perform well out of the factory but with a few simple modifications can be utterly transformed.

A6 Tuning

The weakspots, if you can call it that on a car producing over 450 bhp is the turbo.

For serious power gains you should upgrade the turbo. The options are a rebuilt turbo with high-performance internals or larger turbo conversion.

Tuning tips and articles

Engine tuning Transmission tuning Care care Intake & exhaust mods Improve handling Forums

In either case, go with a turbo which has ball bearings rather than the thrust bearings.

With a tune/remap and turbo upgrade on the RS6 you are looking at phenomenal power gains to around something in the order of 520bhp.

With cylinder head work and more extensive work an additional 150bhp can be achieved over and above the car's standard taking power up to a heady 600bhp. This puts the RS6 firmly into supercar territory.

Audi make the heavy A6 range handle like they are half the weight. The Turbo Quattro sport models are the ones to go for.

The Audi A6 is known for its luxurious features and smooth ride, but for those seeking an extra edge in performance, handling modifications can transform this elegant sedan into a thrilling driving experience.

In this guide, we'll explore key modifications to elevate the A6's handling and performance, providing enthusiasts with a roadmap to unleash the full potential of their vehicles.

Handling Modifications:

A6 Suspension Upgrades

Upgrading the suspension is a cornerstone for enhancing the A6's handling dynamics. A performance suspension kit can bring a host of benefits, including increased damping, improved control over body roll, and a more responsive ride.

These upgrades not only enhance cornering capabilities but also contribute to a more engaging driving experience.

Upgraded Suspension Components

Building on the foundation of suspension upgrades, taking it a step further involves replacing stock suspension bushings and mounts with performance equivalents.

This refinement enhances handling precision and responsiveness, reducing play and ensuring that the A6 hugs the road with confidence during spirited drives.

Suspension kits

Brands we have heard good things about on the A6 include Eibach, D2P H&R Cup AP Coilovers Koni Sport Bilstein.

The more expensive kits generally have more options when it comes to ride height and firmness, but many budget options work really well on street cars.

Springs vary according to engine type and gearbox on the A6 primarily due to weight differences, so choose carefully.

I would focus on around 35mm or 30mm drops work well, you can get kits that offer 40mm over stock non sline suspension.

Bear in mind the S Line suspension is already lowered, so often buying a kit will not drop an S Line model as much as you might expect due to the existing lower ride height.

Some kits offer 40-75mm drops, and for most A6 models the upper end of this will not improve handling and may well introduce other problems like rubbing on the arches.

Airex suspension kits offer an air suspension, great for the slammed low look but handling is generally much softer with any kind of air suspension kit.

Brake Enhancements

Elevating the braking performance is crucial for spirited driving and emergency situations.

Swapping out stock components for larger brake rotors and high-performance brake pads can deliver better stopping power and increased resistance to brake fade.


Benefits of Pagid Brake Pads:

Pagid brake pads are known for their high quality and performance, both on the road and racetrack and are one of the brands I always use on my car.

Pagid offers a wide range of brake pad compounds designed for different driving styles and conditions. Their performance compounds provide superior stopping power compared to standard pads, particularly at high speeds and temperatures.

Pagid pads are known for their exceptional fade resistance, meaning they maintain their stopping power even under sustained heavy braking. This is crucial for both performance driving and everyday safety.

Pagid pads often feature noise reduction technologies and anti-vibration shims, leading to a quieter and smoother braking experience.

Many Pagid pads offer longer wear life compared to standard pads, meaning you'll need to replace them less frequently. This can save you money in the long run.

Pagid caters to diverse driving needs with a vast selection of pad compounds for street, track, and various motorsport applications. You can choose the perfect pad for your vehicle and driving style.

Why Race Spec Pads Don't Work Well on Cold Roads:

While there is a decent range of street and race-specific pads, it's important to understand why race pads wouldn't perform well on cold roads:

High Operating Temperature: Race pads are formulated to bite and perform optimally at high temperatures generated during intense track driving. On cold streets, they might not reach their optimal operating temperature, resulting in:

Cold race pads may have a lower initial bite, leading to a spongy or unresponsive pedal feel.You might experience longer stopping distances, compromising braking safety.

Cold race pads can wear prematurely due to improper friction contact with the disc at low temperatures.

Noise and Vibration: Cold race pads might generate excessive noise and vibration due to uneven contact with the discs and can be quite noisy in general operation with a grinding noise when braking.

Therefore, using race-spec pads for daily driving on cold roads is not ideal. It can negatively impact braking performance, safety, and pad life. Choose street-specific pads for optimum performance and comfort in everyday driving conditions.

This modification ensures that the A6 can handle aggressive driving with confidence and precision.

Alloy Wheel Sizes:

Wheel sizes can vary depending on the trim and version. Common sizes include 17, 18, 19, and 20-inch wheels.

Newer models tend to come with larger rim sizes than early models, the arches and hubs are designed to cope with these, so putting a late model 20 on an early model 17 will almost certainly cause problems.

Wheels for Improved Handling

The choice of wheels plays a pivotal role in handling improvements. Upgrading to lighter and wider aftermarket wheels not only enhances the aesthetics but also reduces rotational mass.

Contrary to popular belief larger A6 alloys are not always better. They often underperform in wet and on bumpy roads and many have left positive comments when dropping an inch, say from 20's to 19's or 19's to 18's.

This reduction contributes to improved acceleration and maneuverability, while the increased contact patch of the tires enhances grip for better overall handling.

While wider tires can help disperse water, larger wheels can contribute to an increased risk of hydroplaning. This is because the larger surface area of the tires on the road can make it harder for the water to escape, potentially leading to reduced traction.

Heavier wheels can impact the suspension system's ability to absorb bumps and irregularities in the road. This can result in a harsher ride and reduced contact between the tires and the road, potentially affecting handling and traction in wet conditions.

The added weight of larger alloy wheels can increase the rotational inertia, making the wheels harder to accelerate and decelerate. This can negatively affect both acceleration and braking performance, potentially leading to longer stopping distances in wet conditions.

Performance Modifications:

ECU Remaps or Tunes

Unleashing the true power of the A6 involves remapping or tuning the engine's Electronic Control Unit (ECU). Imagine the ECU as the brain of your car's engine. It constantly receives data from various sensors like air intake, throttle position, and exhaust oxygen levels.

Based on this data, the ECU refers to a series of internal maps that dictate how much fuel to inject, when to ignite the spark plugs, and other crucial engine parameters.

ECU tuning modifies these maps, adjusting things like:

  • Air-fuel ratio: The precise mix of air and fuel entering the engine cylinders, affecting power and efficiency.
  • Ignition timing: When the spark plugs ignite the fuel mixture, impacting power and emissions.
  • Boost pressure (for turbocharged engines): Controlling the amount of air forced into the engine by the turbocharger for increased power.

This modification can unlock additional power and torque, often in the range of 30-50%.

The result is a significant improvement in acceleration and overall responsiveness, giving the A6 a more dynamic and exhilarating driving experience.

Induction Kits for Increased Power

Improving airflow into the engine is a key aspect of enhancing performance. Induction kits are designed to achieve precisely that, leading to increased power and improved throttle response.

Why not just replace the factory air filter with a performance Air Filter?

Replace your stock air filter with a high-performance option that offers better airflow while maintaining good filtration and it is an easy drop in replacement.

This modification optimizes the combustion process, providing a noticeable boost in the A6's overall performance when you are removing a restriction, which is only there after extensive mods & upgrades are applied.

For a completely stock, unmodified engine, the performance gains from an induction kit are likely to be minimal to negligible in most cases. The potential drawbacks, such as reduced filtration and warranty concerns, should be carefully considered before making the investment.

Most aftermarket filters offer less filtration than the stock airbox. This can increase the risk of dirt and debris entering the engine, potentially causing wear and tear..

Cooler Intake Air is better but this is not Guaranteed as it depends where the kit is sited and if there is a cold air feed.

While some kits relocate the air intake to a cooler position, many draw air from within the engine bay, which can actually be hotter than the stock airbox intake. This can negate any power gains and even decrease performance.

Sports Exhaust Systems

For enthusiasts who appreciate both performance and an enhanced auditory experience, a sports exhaust system is a must.

Besides creating an exhilarating engine note, these systems reduce backpressure, allowing the engine to breathe more freely. The result is increased power and a more engaging driving soundtrack.

Flow velocity is key here, and this is why large bore sizes often reduce power due to less scavenging taking place inside the exhaust headers.

Flywheel Upgrades

A lighter flywheel is a game-changer for the A6, influencing throttle response and acceleration.

By reducing the rotational mass of the engine's flywheel, a lighter alternative allows the engine to rev more freely, resulting in improved throttle response and faster acceleration.

This subtle yet effective modification adds a dynamic edge to the A6's performance. Sachs offer a good range of options for the A6 engines, but this is a mod I recommend you don't overdo, unless you are building a track only car.

Engine Upgrades

For those seeking substantial power gains, delving into engine upgrades is the next logical step. Installing performance pistons, connecting rods, and camshafts can unleash additional power and torque, taking the A6's performance to new heights.

These upgrades optimize the combustion process, providing a noticeable boost in overall engine performance.

Upgraded Clutch

With increased power and torque from engine tuning, a stock clutch may struggle to handle the demands.

Upgrading to a stronger clutch is essential to ensure reliable power transmission and prevent slippage.

This modification not only supports the tuned engine but also enhances the overall drivetrain reliability and durability.

Upgraded Cooling System

As performance increases, maintaining optimal operating temperatures becomes crucial. Upgrading the cooling system with a larger radiator and an enhanced intercooler is essential for keeping the engine cool under high-performance driving conditions.

This modification prevents overheating and ensures consistent performance during demanding situations.

Turbo upgrades on the A6

Let's dive into the world of turbocharger upgrades, covering hybrid turbos, OEM swaps to larger turbos, and aftermarket turbos:

Here is a guide to Audi Turbos which will help you determine your options more clearly.

1. Hybrid Turbos:

Explanation: A hybrid turbo is a modification that combines elements of both the stock (original equipment manufacturer or OEM) turbocharger and aftermarket components.

It typically involves upgrading the internals of the turbo while retaining the original housing. This modification aims to improve performance without significant changes to the overall setup.

Key Points:

  • Internals Upgrade: The core components, such as the compressor wheel and turbine, are upgraded for better efficiency and increased airflow.
  • Retained Housing: The original turbo housing is often kept, reducing the need for extensive modifications.
  • Enhanced Performance: Hybrid turbos aim to provide a balance between improved performance and maintaining some aspects of the stock setup.

2. OEM Swaps to Larger Turbos:

Explanation: Some enthusiasts opt for upgrading to larger turbos sourced from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) but with a higher performance specification.

This involves replacing the stock turbo with a larger one designed by the same manufacturer, offering increased airflow and potential power gains.

Key Points:

  • OEM Components: Larger turbos are sourced directly from the vehicle's manufacturer but are designed for higher performance applications.
  • Bolt-on Replacement: These turbos are often designed as direct bolt-on replacements for the stock units, simplifying the installation process.
  • Increased Airflow: Larger turbos allow for more air to be drawn into the engine, enabling higher power potential when paired with the right supporting modifications.

3. Aftermarket Turbos:

Explanation: Aftermarket turbos involve the complete replacement of the stock turbocharger with a unit from a third-party manufacturer. These turbos are engineered for higher performance and are often part of a broader aftermarket upgrade package.

Key Points:

  • Complete Replacement: Aftermarket turbos replace the entire stock turbocharger with a unit designed for higher performance.
  • Customization Options: Enthusiasts can often choose from a variety of sizes and specifications, allowing for more precise tuning of the turbo to meet specific performance goals.
  • Comprehensive Upgrade: Aftermarket turbos are typically part of a broader aftermarket upgrade plan, including supporting modifications such as intercoolers, exhaust systems, and engine management systems.

Considerations for Turbo Upgrades:

Supporting Modifications: Upgrading the turbo often requires additional modifications to support increased airflow, such as upgraded intercoolers, fuel systems, and exhaust systems.

Engine Management: Proper tuning is crucial when upgrading the turbo to ensure optimal performance and reliability. This often involves adjusting fuel delivery, ignition timing, and other parameters.

Cooling: Increased boost levels can generate more heat. Ensuring adequate cooling, such as an upgraded intercooler, is essential to prevent overheating and maintain consistent performance.

Professional Installation: Turbo upgrades can be complex. Professional installation by experienced mechanics is recommended to ensure proper fitment and functionality.

Special A6 revisions and models.

There were special models based on the A6 over the years.

The early S6 appeared in 1994 up to the model revision in 1997 and had a 2.2 litre engine putting out around 230bhp.

This can be upped once again with a turbo conversion and tune/remap to 270bhp. Wheras the 1997 s6 had a larger 4.2 engine 340bhp and this can only be raised slightly to 360bhp with a full tune/remap and new sports exhaust system fitted.

The turbo models are therefore the models to go for if you want to see large powergains and get more for you money.

When upping the power on turbo engines TorqueCars recommends that you upgrade the diverter valve for a stronger version as the standard ones start to complain with these power levels.

Atmospheric diverter valves can be problematic on many A6 engines, but there are workarounds and partially venting options which may help.

Brake conversion kits are also a good idea, and although the standard quattro handling is excellent a bit of suspension tweaking will firm up the ride and turn the car into a track day weapon.

The A6 range are very heavy cars, even the bonnet and panels are substantial.

Fitting carbon fibre parts will help to reduce the weight and therefore increase the performance. Lighter flywheels will also free up some power and allow better acceleration (although this will not help your fuel economy when cruising).

We shouldn't overlook the diesel engines as these too are very tuneable. Remaps are the way to go with these and you will see really silly Torque figures and still retain much of the fuel economy you bought is for in the first place.

See our full and detailed tuning articles for more information on the many modifications open you and join our forum to chat with other A6 owners and compare notes with them. Be warned though there is a big difference of opinion on the many tunes or remaps available.

Engine swaps are quite popular mods for this model, here are engine guides to all the VAG engines we've covered.

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