2012 Audi A6
Base price: $42,575 – $50,775
As tested: $61,530
MPG: 19 city/28 highway (Premium fuel)
- Magnificently tailored new styling inside and out
- Excellent performance and driving dynamics
- Loaded with futuristic technology
- Base model is least powerful in its class
- Reliability predicted as “poor” by Consumer Reports
- Audi’s MMI control system still needlessly complicated
By Jim Prueter
Audi’s been on a tear as of late in the U.S., with some excellent new models such as the gorgeous new A7, restyled A8, the beautiful A5, and other snazzy models on the way. The all-new restyled A6 tested here is no exception.
For 2012, Audi has changed everything with its second-best selling model in the U.S., behind the popular and smaller A4. The new elegant and handsome proportions of the A6 styling includes perhaps the most attractive front end of any vehicle we’ve seen in quite some time, reminding us of a sedan version of Audi’s R8 sports car. The A6 also comes with a lower price, fewer trim levels, a larger size, and more power.
Audi discontinued two of the four sedan models and no longer offers the wagon. A6 is now available in just two flavors. The base 2.0T is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine rated at 211 horsepower and mated to a continuously variable-ration automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. The base price at $42,575 (including shipping) has been sliced by $3,500 compared to the 2011 A6. An understandable cut since last year’s base A6 model had a V-6 engine.
Powered by a 3.0-liter V-6 rated at 310 horsepower and mated to an all-new eight-speed automatic transmission, the 3.0T is supercharged, not turbocharged as the “T” seems to suggest. The 3.0T model comes standard with Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive and has a base price of $50,775, a drop of $300 from last year.
We tested the 3.0T model and were struck by its handsomely proportioned styling, with a short front overhang, blacked-out roof pillars, oversized seven-strake grille, attractive LED headlamps, and what Audi calls the “Tornado line” that bisects the body. It’s much like looking at an Armani suit — nearly impossible to improve on.
The other thing we noticed about the new A6 compared to the previous generation is that it’s lost a lot of weight (176 pounds lighter) and drives completely differently. I hesitate to compare it to a BMW, but it has the same great feel, balance, light handling, and nimbleness. It also has a weighted, very sophisticated suspension system that provides both terrific handling and a luxurious ride, unusual considering that most have either one or the other. Everything is exactly what you’d expect from Audi: silky smooth, powerful, precise brakes, and overall tactile refinement.
Inside, the A6 clones much of the look and layout of the upscale A8, which delights from the minute you slide behind the wheel. Audi is the de facto standard in automotive interiors, every touch-point being the highest quality. The seats are the best in the business, and the dashboard is simply art. Though we didn’t much care for the look of the pop-up navigation screen, we especially liked the look of the real wood and metal inlays.
There’s also enough “gee-whiz” to please the most ardent technocrat. In fact, a strong case could be made for digital overdo. Easier to follow than a conventional screen with its 3-D view of the terrain, there’s a new navigation system with Google Earth satellite imagery, which also allows users to download Wikipedia entries for area points of interest, weather, traffic, lowest gas prices, and other online information. Other features include, a Wi-Fi hot spot for up to eight devices, a center-console rotary dial with quadrant buttons, and a touch pad on which you write letters with your fingers.
For safety, there’s a radar cruise stop-and-go control that allows you to follow a car without applying the gas or brake pedals and a lane department warning system that notifies you when other vehicles are in your blind spot. Also, both A6 models come equipped with electronic stability control, and Audi pre sense, initiating protective measures if an imminent collision is detected. The A6 has not yet been rated for frontal or side crash tests by the U.S. government but earned the highest possible “Good” rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, also making it a Top Safety Pick.
All around, we are very impressed with the new A6, a vehicle that’s well refined, well executed, and looks both rich and expensive, one that anyone would be proud to drive and own. The A6 seems to have it all, great suspension, great luxury, terrific handling, gorgeous looks, and impeccable materials and quality.
Audi seems to have captured the imagination of upscale buyers and is the “in” car to have. In the luxury car market, it’s the hottest brand out there right now. Anyone shopping for a mid-range luxury sedan would be wise to look and test-drive the new A6.