A Real Contender
In the competition for the hearts and minds of German luxury car buyers, the Audi A6 has been the perennial also-ran. The Mercedes E-Class and the BMW 5-Series have outsold the A6 every year by huge margins. However, things could change in 2012—Audi has revamped the A6, and made it a serious contender.
The 2012 A6 does not look radically different from last year’s model, but it is a clean-sheet design. This latest version rides on a longer, 114.7-inch platform borrowed from he Audi A7. While the wheelbase is now nearly three inches longer, the overall length is a fraction shorter. Audi has moved the wheels further out to the corners. The huge Audi grille looks more aggressive than ever, and new slanted headlamps give it a slightly sinester look.
The interior of the A6 benefits from an increased dose of luxury this year. The inset dash is pleasingly trimmed in brushed silver and dark walnut. A display screen, housed near the top of the dash, slides out and rotates upward in an elegant fashion at the start of the engine. My test car’s wheat-colored seats with perforated leather were nicely finished, and complemented the dark blue paint on the exterior sheet metal.
The A6 is a sedan that six-footers will enjoy. Head-and legroom up front is ample, the eight-way power seats, with adjustable lumbar controls, are supportive and comfortable. Rear passengers have sufficient space as well, thanks to the longer wheelbase. The 14.1-cu.-ft. trunk is not especially large, but is well finished, and can be expanded by folding down the rear seatbacks.
Audi offers the A-6 with only two engines this year, and surprisingly, no V-8. In the interest of better fuel economy, a turbocharged 2.0-liter, four-cylinder is now the entry- level motor in the lineup. This mighty mite generates 211 hp, and is teamed with a CVT automatic to get 25-33 mpg. The two-liter power plant is available only with front-wheel drive.
The supercharged 3.0-liter mill from last year continues over for 2012, but now generates another 10 horses for a total of 310. It’s hooked up to an eight-speed automatic and Quattro all-wheel drive. My test car had this setup, and it would really scoot when I hit the accelerator. Sixty mph can come in as little as 5.3 seconds. Gas mileage is still a very respectable 19-28 mpg.
The A6 comes in three levels of trim, Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige. The car I drove was a top-of-the-line Prestige, with a vast array of high tech wizardry. The center console featured Audi’s MMI, the Multi Media Interface that controls audio, telephone and navigation, and now includes a touch panel that enables the driver to write an address using a finger.
New this year is Audi Connect, an in-car wireless Internet connection, which allows you, (or hopefully your passenger) to Google all sorts of information, including Google Earth mapping on the navigation screen. Also available are high-tech options, such as adaptive cruise control, blind-spot warning and night vision assist.
Behind the wheel, the A6 reminded me of the outstanding A7 that I drove earlier in the year. Like the A7, it comes with Audi Drive Select, which enables the driver to alter throttle response, transmission shifts and steering effort by pressing a button. The “Comfort” mode is very relaxed, as the name implies. The “Normal” setting is more responsive, and good for everyday driving. “Dynamic” is great for your favorite country road, and “Individual” lets you mix and match various settings.
Complementing the Audi Drive Select was the Quattro all-wheel drive and the optional sport suspension on my test car. This combination provided my A6 with outstanding handling capability. This is a car that takes no backseat to a BMW, or anyone else in its class. Furthermore, with all of its handling prowess, it still delivers an excellent ride.
Audi starts the pricing for the A6 at $42,575 for the 2.0T Premium four-cylinder, and ranges up to $57,655 for the 3.0T Prestige V-6. My test car, with optional LED headlights and blind spot warning, had a bottom line of $61,530.