2012 Audi A6 Review
The 2012 Audi A6 would make a fine butler or lady-in-waiting.
It displays good manners, civility, professional skill, refinement and charm. It never gets ruffled or feels hassled and never intrudes on your reverie.
In short, it is a classy mechanical servant. However, despite considerable capabilities, the A6 will not satisfy white-knuckle enthusiasts, who will have to look elsewhere or wait for a performance-oriented S6 version.The all-new A6 follows the on-ramp behind its more powerful and expensive sibling, the A8, introduced as a 2011 model. But it exhibits many of the same traits, only in a smaller size.
It has minimalist, sophisticated and nearly anonymous styling that is appreciated by the cognoscenti but little noticed by the hoi polloi. Unless the viewer is automobile savvy, the A6 gets barely a glance. For all the attention it attracts, it could be a Toyota Camry.
The exception is the maw of the shiny black grille. If you take off the front license plate and turn on the pinpoint LED daytime running lights, it looks like a black hole nestled among stars in the sky.
The elegant styling carries over into the interior. Audi has long had a reputation for producing beautiful surroundings with fine materials and craftsmanship. Shapely wood trim, tastefully applied on the dash, console and doors sets off soft-touch, grained surfaces in the A6.
Instruments are legible white on black with a redundant digital speedometer. A large multi-function screen emerges from the dash and rises up, like a spelunker crawling out of a low cave and standing up to stretch. The sun visors slide on their support rods to block sun from the side and the shade for the motorized glass sunroof is opaque—unlike the faddish, ineffective translucent cheesecloth on some other cars.The front seats are supportive for long-distances, but they lack lateral support for spirited motoring around mountain curves. In back, there are seatbelts for three, but the A6 should be thought of as a four-passenger sedan. The center-rear position is so compromised as to be useless for anything but emergencies. Though middling sized, the trunk has a big opening.
There are two new A6 models for 2012: the tested 3.0T, with a 310- horsepower supercharged V6 engine and Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive, and the 2.0T, with a 211-horsepower four-cylinder and front-wheel drive. The latter, the first four-banger in an A6 in the U.S., obviously is aimed at buyers for whom fuel economy has become an issue. It delivers 25/33 miles to the gallon the EPA’s city/highway cycle.
Despite performance credentials—Audi claims zero-to-60 acceleration of 5.3 seconds—the A6 3.0T is most at ease providing comfort and confidence to the driver. The suspension system is adjustable but even set in “dynamic” the ride is composed except on the roughest roads.
The 3.0T is a misnomer because the engine is supercharged instead of turbocharged. Both systems force air into the cylinders to boost horsepower, but a supercharger runs off the engine while a turbo is spun by exhaust gas. Audi says the “T” stands for “forced induction.”One advantage of a supercharger is that there is no lag in acceleration. Turbos often hesitate while they spool up. The A6 surges forward when you get your foot in it, faster than you expect given the genteel nature of the car. With its easy-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission, EPA fuel consumption is 19/28 miles to the gallon but not when you hammer the loud pedal. The brake pedal feels soft for the first inch or so of travel but then catches.
Like most new cars these days—even those in non-luxury categories—the new A6 carries a load of electronic wizardry. Coolest among these is the mobile hot spot. You can connect up to eight devices, including iPads, Droids and other gadgets that depend on the Internet. It’s a simple matter of getting your device in sync; then you can use it while you’re motoring anywhere WiFi is available.
The new A6 competes in a formidable group that includes the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Jaguar XF, BMW 5-Series, Hyundai Genesis and Cadillac CTS. Each of its competitors has its own appeal and the many virtues that come with price tags affordable by the wealthy or those who can handle the payments.
The tested A6 3.0T had a starting sticker price of $50,375, which is comparable to the competition. With options that included Audi’s MMI navigation with Google Earth and handwriting recognition, sport suspension and 19-inch wheels, the bottom-line retail price came to $59,495.
No car is perfect, of course, and the A6 exhibits some nagging shortcomings, including the impossible center-rear seating position. The center console, which has a connector for charging or playing music from mobile devices, is so small you can’t stash an iPad. The cup holders up front are demitasse sized.
If you don’t need the Quattro all-wheel drive and you can get by with more sedate motoring, the A6 2.0T has a starting price of $42,575.
Either way, it’s a substantial commitment for your mechanized attendant. But there’s no salary and you don’t have to pay for benefits.
Model: 2012 Audi A6 3.0T all-wheel drive four-door sedan.
Engine: 3-liter V6, supercharged, 310 horsepower.
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic with manual-shift control.
Overall length: 16 feet 2 inches.
EPA passenger/trunk volume: 97/14 cubic feet.
Weight: 4,045 pounds.
EPA city/highway fuel consumption: 19/28 miles to the gallon.
Base price, including destination charge: $50,375.
Price as tested: $59,495.