By Jim MacPherson
In recent years, Audi has become a fierce competitor in the premium luxury field with its A6 sedan. Tastefully designed and impeccably trimmed, the A6 has seen sales soar as it managed to avoid the design excesses and manufacturing lapses that have befallen some competitors.
For 2012, Audi has redesigned the A6 sedan, but has done so without rocking the boat. If you liked the previous A6, you'll like the new version, and still be able to recognize it in the parking lot. Yet, for all the conservatism in the new design, the technology is cutting edge.
The chassis features aluminum hybrid construction that has cut weight while boosting performance. Fuel economy estimates are also improved. Compared to last year’s supercharged 3.0-liter model, the new A6 3.0T has seen a nearly six percent boost in city mileage and a 7.7 percent improvement in highway economy.
Two versions are offered. The first is the 2.0T, powered by a 211-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It comes only with a continuously variable automatic transmission and front wheel drive.
The more popular A6 3.0T is powered by a supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 rated at 310 horsepower. This engine is packaged with an eight-speed automatic transmission and quattro all-wheel drive.
“Most customers prefer the quattro all-wheel drive,” says Carlos Grisanty, an Audi brand specialist at Hoffman Audi of New London. “You'll see more [front-wheel drive] 2.0Ts down south.”
The 2.0T is offered in Premium and Premium Plus trim levels. The 3.0T offers these two trim lines and adds a Prestige level. Our review car, loaned by Audi, was a 3.0T with the Prestige package.
Performance was outstanding. Straight line acceleration produced a zero-to-60 time of 5.5 seconds. The engine is smooth and refined; the eight-speed automatic transmission, up two ratios from last year, performed very well.
“The supercharged all-aluminum V-6 with the new eight-speed automatic is unbelievable,” Grisanty says. “Look at the amount of power and compare that to the fuel used and it doesn’t add up. It feels like a V-8 but with the consumption of four-cylinder cars.”
Equipped with the Sport Package ($1,500), our Audi rode firmly and handled with a surprising level of precision considering the vehicle’s size and weight. Some stretches of broken pavement produced abrupt ride motions, but this A6 was generally very comfortable.
The interior is a work of art. Design, materials and assembly are all first rate. Highlights include easy-to-read instruments and intuitive basic controls. A color seven-inch driver information screen (part of the Prestige Package) is motor driven out of the instrument panel upon startup and displays the image from the rearview camera whenever the car is shifted into reverse. It also allows a driver to cycle through the various control systems, tune the radio or access the navigation system.
This navigation system goes beyond anything else that is offered. Give it a minute and it will show your route superimposed on Google Earth satellite photos; pictures that include incredible detail. In my neighborhood, these images included an accurate rendition of my house and yard, right down to the number of trees and shrubs on my property.
“This is technology you don't have on any competitive car,” Grisanty says. “It integrates traffic information, Google Earth point of interest venues, tells you where to go, gets weather and news and transforms the car into a WiFi mobile hot spot.”
All of that is impressive, but not as impressive as the new A6's demeanor on the road. That, undoubtedly, is what's helping Audi set sales records.
Starts at: $41,700
Engines: 2.0T 3.0T
HP 211 310
Torque (lb-ft) 258 325
EPA 25/33 19/28