Geneva: Audi gives new A6 a low-key debut, while Nissan promises more and more electric cars

New A6 is a smaller version of the A8, while Nissan’s IMX concept can now read your mind

Audi has launched the all-new A6 saloon at the Geneva motor show, but unless you're an Audi anorak, you'll be hard-pressed to tell. It's a very subtle styling evolution from the outgoing model (really, only the new lights and lower, wider grille are the giveaways) and is bound to spark off a new debate about premium car brands being too timid with their styling, Audi probably won't care much about that — it may be predictable, but the new A6 is all but guaranteed to post strong sales, given our clamour for all-things four-rings.

There is a new platform under there, though, and Audi says that cabin space is much improved (even if the boot is the same 530-litres as before). That cabin gets the high-tech new cabin layout from the A8, with two central digital touchscreens, and a 12.3-inch digital instrument screen in front of the driver.

It’ll come with standard 4G connectivity, a smartphone app that allows you to remote-control it in and out of a tight parking space, and can even guide you to on-street parking spaces.

As with the A7 coupe, engines at launch will be restricted to two 3.0-litre V6 units, a petrol turbo one with 340hp (badged, under Audi's complex new system, 55 TFSI) and a diesel with 286hp (badged 55 TDI). Both will come with Audi's new 48-volt mild hybrid assistance (which allows the A6 to 'sail' along for short bursts under pure electric power at speeds of above 55km/h), and of course smaller, more affordable engines will follow on quickly behind the big V6s.


On the chassis front, Audi is promising that this will be the best-to-drive A6 yet, with four-wheel steering and, on quattro models, torque vectoring to distribute the power to the wheel best able to handle it.

The basic German price of the diesel model will be €58,000 when it goes on sale in June. Irish sales will follow pretty quickly after.

Across the hall, Nissan is promising more and more electric power for its models. It's brought along the IMX concept seen at last year's Tokyo motor show, but has made some updates to the Qashqai-sized all-electric crossover.

"After the Tokyo Motor Show, my team and I continued to consider the IMx's potential,' said Nissan design boss Alfonso Albaisa. "We asked ourselves if the basic concept of the IMx could be more SUV-inspired by making some relatively simple changes to details, accents and color. Taken all together, these relatively minor changes have combined to give the IMx Kuro a completely different personality, and the addition of the Kuro moniker reflects that. It looks purposeful and indestructible – which we think is an interesting position for this concept and the application of technologies that is showcased by the vehicle."

It’s not just styling changes — Nissan has also now fitted the concept with its mind-reading technology. Yes, really — the IMX has Nissan’s new Brain To Car system which, allegedly, reads a drivers’ brain waves and recognises when they’re about to send an instruction to the hands or feet to steer the car, making sure that all the vehicle’s systems are ready and waiting. Sounds a bit mad? Nissan says it’s a definite benefit in safety terms.

Meanwhile, the Japanese maker is celebrating the launch of the new Leaf (which is arriving in Ireland in the next few days, priced from €26,000) and claims that it has taken 19,000 European orders for the new electric hatch. That's one sold every 12 seconds since it was launched.

Nissan has also announced a collaboration with energy giant E-On, which will see the two companies developing new charging systems, intelligent chargers that can send power from the car to the grid when needed, and investing in new public charging points.

Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe, a contributor to The Irish Times, specialises in motoring