Audi A6 — Impeccable
By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman
Audi’s reputation for building some of the most desirable cars in the world will surely continue to grow with the remake of its mid-sized A6 sedan. Like its next of kin, the stylish fastback A7, it stands out with its automotive sophistication, its delightful interior and its impeccable driving demeanor.
The A7 was released several months ahead of the A6, and other than exterior appearances, both cars are nearly identical in all areas including the drivetrain. The big difference between the two platform mates is passenger space. The more traditionally styled A6 will seat up to five passengers while the sleek A7 is designed as a 2 + 2 vehicle.
Audi has revised the A6 lineup, eliminating two of the four trim levels and dropping the wagon. The lineup now includes the base 2.0T front-drive sedan with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine and the 3.0T all-wheel drive with a supercharged V-6 engine.
For the power hungry and those who generally scoff at six-cylinder engines, Audi for the 2013 model year will offer an eight-cylinder-powered edition that will compare nicely with the BMW and Mercedes V-8’s.
In the meantime we had no qualms with the smooth, seamless performance from Audi’s 310-horsepower six-cylinder engine mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, which, as measured by Audi, can accomplish 0-to-60 in a quick 5.3 seconds.
The V-6 works well with the eight-speed shifter offering instantaneous power with instantaneous downshifts at any speed and any point in the rev band. Audi, it seems, has squeezed the most performance possible from the V-6; and for all its satisfying performance the A6 is no slouch in the mpg department, rated at 19 mpg city and 28 mpg highway.
And although we did not test an A6 2.0T model, we have had considerable experience with the 211-horsepower engine in other Volkswagen and Audi models and it should provide enough power to please most drivers while providing excellent economy measured at 25 mpg city and 33 mpg highway. Its prodigious 258 pound-feet of torque is one of the reasons it feels energetic. It comes with a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
While the A6 does not have the eye-candy styling appeal of the A7, it has received numerous incremental styling upgrades that makes it an attractive family sedan choice for the luxury car buyer.
The biggest change is the addition of the menacing big-mouth seven-strake grille used on other models to great affect including the A7 and A8, and more angular headlights also found on the A7 and A8.
The overhangs have been shortened giving the car a more sports sedan appearance by stretching the wheelbase from 111.9 inches to 114.7 inches and very slightly decreasing the length of the car from 194 inches to 193.5 inches. Interior space has grown slightly because of the stretched wheelbase mainly benefiting rear-seat passengers who gain a half-inch of legroom.
Weight has been reduced by 78 and 176 pounds depending on engine choice because of the increased use of aluminum.
Perhaps the new dimensions, which provide improved weight distribution, and the optional sport suspension in our test car were the main reasons as the A6 felt much more confident on the twists and turns than the previous model we tested a couple years ago. Letting the A6 do its thing on our favorite stretch of twisting blacktop proved rewarding. The suspension kept the sedan nicely planted on the hard turns with no noticeable body roll. Not to be overlooked is an excellent stopping distance of 110 feet from 60 to 0.
For most drivers, it’s not about running fast and hard, but about everyday driving, and for those chores the Audi has a wonderful driving demeanor and a silky smooth ride. For that reason, those buyers can save the $1,500 price of the sport package. But even with the Sport Package we found the A6 exceptionally quiet and compliant.
It’s amazing how far German engineering has come since the first joystick-controlled switch-gear came on the scene more than a decade ago. While the Audi is feature intensive, it is relatively simple to comprehend.
Audi’s latest MMI Plus Interface has one of the industry’s most unique features, an eight-inch screen that raises from the dashboard — canted toward the driver — when the ignition is switched on. It consolidates audio, navigation and telephone functions in an extremely easy-to-read display. A highlight of the navigation system is a new feature with Google earth mapping.
Our test car’s optional Bang & Olufsen surround sound audio system was 1300-watts of wow, well suited for a well-heeled audiophile considering the $5,900 price tag. For the 99 out of 100 the first option Bose system will surely keep the discerning listener happy. The center console controller is intuitive, and while a perusal of the owner’s manual is recommended for the new owner, he can handily catch on to the basic audio and climate controls without consultation with a book.
The base 2.0T sedan starts at $42,575 and the 3.0T beings at $50,775. As you might expect, the standard equipment list is long and comprehensive. But be advised that there are numerous attractive option choices and if your check-off list becomes too long, the price can rapidly escalate into 60 or 70 grand territory.
For instance, if you want navigation with its unique Google Earth features paired with the outstanding Bose sound system (and a long list of other extras), you will have to pony up $6,880 for the privilege (Prestige package). We wish some things would be unbundled. It seems a shame that the up level sound system isn’t a standalone option, like the super B&O system.
That being said, Audi has cut the price of the base model by $3,500 and knocked $300 off the price of the 3.0T.
Our 3.0T test car included the Prestige, Sport, Innovation (includes Side Assist – blind spot, adaptive cruise, head-up display, etc.) taking the base price of $50,775 up to $71,330.
Regardless of the price you decide to pay, rest assured that the new sedan takes the previous A6 to a new level of sophistication. And that’s a benchmark that other automakers will find hard to attain.
Base price, $42,575 (2.0T); as driven, $71,330 (3.0T)
Engine: 3.0-liter supercharged V-6
Horsepower: 310 @ 5,500 rpm
Torque: 325 foot-pounds @ 2,900 rpm
Drive: all-wheel (quattro)
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 114.7 inches
Length: 193.9 inches
Curb weight: 4,045 pounds
Turning Circle: 39 feet
Luggage capacity: 14.1 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 19.8 gallons (premium)
EPA rating: 28 mpg highway, 19 mpg city
0-60: 5.3 seconds (mfg.)
Also consider: BMW 5-Series, Mercedes E-Class, Infiniti M Class
• Strong supercharged V-6 engine
• Impeccably styled interior
• Wonderful driving demeanor
• Cutting edge technology including Google Earth
• All-wheel drive not available with base engine
• Worthwhile options bundled into expensive packages