2010 Audi A6
MSRP
$59,150
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2010 Audi A6 Expert Review:Autoblog

The following review is for a 2009 Model Year. There may be minor changes to current model you are looking at.

2009 Audi A6 3.0T – Click above for high-res image gallery

In 1982, Audi introduced its redesigned 5000 to the world and unwittingly influenced the shape of sedans to come. The 5000's smooth flanks, disk wheels and flush-mounted side glass were replicated by a generation of cars over the next two-and-a-half decades, and when its successor debuted in 1994, the A6 grew some curves while retaining Audi's patented blend of staid Germanic modernity.

The 2009 Audi A6 isn't nearly as revolutionary. It sits atop the same C6 platform we've known since 2005, and last year, the automaker gave its upper mid-sizer a mild makeover consisting of new front and rear fascias, light clusters and a few interior tweaks. Maybe that's why Audi thought it need to commission actor Jason Statham to star in a multi-million dollar Super Bowl advert to boost the A6's image. Well, that and to highlight the automaker's all-new supercharged 3.0-liter TFSI V6 – the same engine due to be fitted to several new Audis, including the 2010 Audi S4. How does the restyled A6 fair during a week of testing? And more importantly, is this new blown V6 a suitable replacement for Audi's 4.2-liter V8? Find out after the jump.



Photos Copyright ©2009 Sam Abuelsamid / Weblogs, Inc.



The basic profile of the A6 dates back a decade, with its curving greenhouse drawing heavily on the original TT coupe. The current generation stretches the glass longitudinally and, like other contemporary Audis, the A6 has a tornado line (designer speak) just below the sheetmetal's shoulders to connect the outermost corners of the front and rear light assemblies.



Those light clusters were the main focus of last year's refresh, although their shape remains rectangular, lacking some of the sculptural elements found in the new A4, A5 and Q5. Other modern Audi design cues have been adopted on the refreshed A6, including the RS4-esque intakes below the headlamps, along with taillights that extend towards the center of the trunk lid, pinching off at the license plate pocket.

Inside, our A6 tester had a two-tone, brown and black leather finish which drew mixed reviews from passengers. While the leather and dash materials are top-notch and soft to the touch, the color combination left some people cold. The two-tone interior does an admirable job of breaking up the vast blackness found in most modern Audis, but those who prefer a monochrome look can choose to coat the A6's interior in black, gray or beige. As for the rest of the A6 interior, it's standard Audi: no great breakthroughs, but fit, finish and materials are excellent and ergonomics are similarly good.



As with all German luxury marques, Audi has incorporated a control knob on the center console to allow users to navigate through the myriad of features and functions available through the automaker's infotainment and climate control system. Unfortunately, the updated A6 makes due with the second generation Multi Media Interface (MMI), while the new Q5 and refreshed Q7 get the third-gen system. For its part, the second iteration of MMI is still heads-and-shoulders better than most incarnations of BMW's iDrive, but it still has some annoying quirks.

The system's most notable niggle is how you spin the knob to scroll through the menus. Contrary to the majority of wart-operated devices, the Audi system places the scroll bar to the left of the menu list, and while it may seem intuitive to turn the MMI knob clockwise to scroll down, instead, it takes you up. We'll admit it's a minor annoyance that fades away after a few days, but for a system this complex it's yet another learning curve we could do without. In fact, given the flexibility and configurability of other aspects of MMI, we'd like to see a user setting where we could flip-flop the scrolling, much as many video games will allow the user to invert the axises on their controllers.



Across The Pond, the A6 and its ilk are considered "executive" vehicles, often used to ferry management-types to the board room and golf course. As a result, the A6 has an expansive 15.9 cu-ft trunk and a commodious back seat able to coddle two passengers in comfort. While Audi cites the A6's capacity at five, the sedan's rear confines are contoured to maximize the comfort of two passengers, so if your shuttling more than four people around for more than a short jaunt, it's best to take two cars.

For 2009, the existing normally aspirated 3.2-liter V6 and 4.2-liter V8 engines carry over and are joined by the new supercharged 3.0-liter V6. Until now, Audi has used the TFSI designation for turbocharged and direct injected gasoline engines. For marketing reasons, officials chose not to change that appellation for this all-new supercharged mill – presumably the Four Ringed brand didn't want to create confusion among consumers by calling this the 3.0S, lest people confuse the model for a sportier S-Line trim. Nevertheless, a few letters don't compromise the engine's effectiveness.



Nestled between the cylinder banks is a belt-driven compressor huffing enough air through the manifold to deliver 300 peak horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque between 2,500 and 4,850 rpm. In the A6, the engine was developed to deliver instant, seamless acceleration at freeway speeds. And it does. Flawlessly. The belt driven blower means turbo lag is nonexistent and with this much grunt available at the flick of an ankle, it could easily replace the V8 before long. Although the engine – shared by the 333 hp 2010 Audi S4 – has been slightly detuned, the 4,123-pound A6 gets to 60 mph in just under six seconds and you'll never be struggling to merge onto the highway or make a pass on a two-lane road.

Also updated for 2009 is Audi's all-wheel drive setup, and like the versions employed on the new A4 and A5, the reworked Quattro system features a 40/60 front-to-rear torque split. Approaching the limits of grip, the A6 offers a more balanced feel, eliminating much of the understeer traditionally associated with 50/50 AWD platforms. Power is transferred via a six-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission that allows the shift lever to be pushed to the right for manual gear selection. However, unlike more explicitly sporting models, the A6 3.0T doesn't offer steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, something we expect to be rectified in the future.



The A6's clear métier is to cruise the Autobahn at elevated speeds in surefooted comfort, and while we didn't have the opportunity to play with the A6 in inclement weather, past Quattros have always done an outstanding job of maintaining a stable trajectory no matter the conditions. As A6s (and 5000s before them) have done for the past quarter-century, the slick aerodynamic shape results in admirably low levels of wind noise, making this Audi a very relaxing place to cover long distances. The suspension also does an excellent job of soaking up the expansion joints, frost heaves and potholes that typify Northern roads without ever feeling floaty or out-of-sorts.

Since Audi isn't offering its excellent 3.0-liter V6 TDI in the A6 for American consumers, the sedan's fuel economy is only so-so, although not bad for its performance level. We saw just over 21 mpg during our test and the EPA rates the A6 3.0T at 18 mpg in town and 26 mpg on the open road.



The normally aspirated front-wheel drive A6 starts at $45,100, while the 3.0T jumps to $51,600. With its navigation system, our Premium Plus model carried a sticker of $54,200 – several thousand more than its Japanese competitors, but right in line with its German counterparts from BMW and Mercedes.

Like its compatriots, the A6 is available in wagon trim (Avant in Audi/Euro parlance) and for 2009, the new supercharged V6 is the only powerplant available. To our eyes, the wagon has better proportions than the sedan and offers even more utility thanks to its cavernous rear compartment and its retention of Quattro all-wheel drive. If we were making the payments, we'd opt for the wagon, with the wonderful engine making the deal that much sweeter.



Photos Copyright ©2009 Sam Abuelsamid / Weblogs, Inc.


2009 Audi A6 3.0T Premium Plus
Performance Brakes/Tires/Wheels
Engine Supercharged 3.0-liter V6 Front Brakes 12.6-inch ventilated discs (ABS)
Configuration/Valvetrain DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder Rear Brakes 11.9-inch solid discs
Max Horsepower @ RPM 300 hp @ 5,100 RPM Wheels (front) 18-inches
Max Torque @ RPM 310 lb-ft @ 2,500 to 4,850 RPM Wheels (rear) 18-inches
Drive Type All-wheel drive (40/60 split f/r) Tires (front) 245/40 R18 All Season
Transmission Six-speed Tiptronic automatic Tires (rear) 245/40 R18 All Season
Fuel Injection Direct Injection
Compression Ratio 10.5:1 Exterior Dimensions
Recommended Fuel 91 octane Length 193.5 inches
Fuel Capacity 21.1 gallons Width 79.2 inches
EPA Fuel Economy (city/hwy) 18/26 mpg Height 57.4 inches
0-60 mph time (MFR est.) 5.9 seconds Wheelbase 111.9 inches
Top Speed 130 mph (electronically limited) Curb Weight 4,123 pounds
Suspension/Steering Interior Dimensions
Front Four link, with anti-roll bar Maximum Seating 5
Rear Trapezoidal-link Luggage Capacity 15.9 cu-ft
Steering Speed sensitive Rack-and-pinion Head Room (Front/Rear) 38.7 / 37.8 inches
Turns Lock-to-Lock 2.74 Shoulder Room (Front/Rear) 57.1 / 55.9 inches
Turning Circle (feet) 39 Leg Room (Front/Rear) 41.3 / 36.9 inches

All-weather capability with room and style.

Introduction

The Audi A6 is a comfortable, stylish luxury sedan that delivers dynamic excellence. The A6 is packed with technology that enhances convenience and safety. Attention to detail inside and out is impressive; Audi is often a benchmark for automotive interior quality. 

The A6 cabin is airy and comfortable, with firm, supportive seats and plenty of room for four. Its styling is a crisp, clean and modern interpretation of the aerodynamic sedan Audi debuted more than 30 years ago. 

Underway, the A6 boasts precise steering, fluid engines and transmissions, stout brakes and a firm but comfortable ride. In high-speed corners the quattro models feel like they're on rails, a benefit of Audi's superb all-wheel-drive system. Braking and handling are excellent, whether on dry pavement or hurtling through a torrent of rain. 

The A6 is available as a sedan or a wagon and both are among the sleekest designs in the class. The wagon is called the Avant, and it's a sporty vehicle, powered exclusively by Audi's newest 3-liter supercharged V6 engine. 

The sedan offers two V6s, a V8 and a V10. All A6s except the entry model come with quattro all-wheel drive. 

The standard 3.2-liter V6 is all-new for 2010, with more horsepower (265 hp, an increase of 10 over 2009) and better fuel economy than before. Backed by a continuously variable automatic transmission, the new 3.2-liter V6 delivers sufficient performance for any purpose. The supercharged 3-liter brings 300 hp and nearly as much torque as the V8, for similar performance on less fuel. The V10-powered S6 is for serious drivers who don't mind trading comfort for high performance. 

Also new for 2010 are revised Sport packages and a third generation of MMI, Audi's Multi-Media Interface. These changes follow 2009's updates to bumpers and lighting and refinements to the suspension and all-wheel driveline. 

The A6 competes primarily against the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Other contenders include the Acura RL, Cadillac CTS, Jaguar XF, and Lexus GS. 

Lineup

The 2010 Audi A6 lineup includes sedan and Avant wagon body styles, four engines, and three trim levels: Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige. 

The A6 3.2 Premium sedan ($45,200) is the entry-level A6. It's powered by the 265-hp 3.2-liter V6 and comes with front-wheel drive and a continuously variable transmission with seven preset gear ratios for manual control. That adds up to an EPA city/highway rating of 18/28 mpg. 

A6 3.0T quattro Premium sedan ($50,200) and Avant ($53,310) are powered by a 300-hp supercharged V6, EPA-rated 18/26 mpg. The A6 4.2 quattro Premium sedan ($60,950) packs a 350-hp V8 rated 16/23 mpg. A6 3.0T and 4.2 models come with a six-speed automatic transmission and quattro all-wheel drive. 

Base-level Premium trim includes Valcona leather upholstery; genuine walnut panels; moonroof; dual-zone automatic climate control with pollen filter; power windows, locks and heated mirrors; eight-way power front seats with driver's power lumbar; 60/40 split-folding rear seat; tilt/telescoping column with leather-wrapped, multi-function steering wheel; cruise control; trip computer; theft deterrent system; AM/FM/6CD/MP3 with 10 speakers; Sirius satellite radio; Bluetooth; iPod interface; rain-sensing variable-intermittent wipers; automatic headlights; headlight washers; front and rear fog lights; and 17-inch alloy wheels. The Avant also gets roof rails, cargo cover, cargo retention system, rear spoiler and rear wash/wipe. Options on Premium-grade cars include a cold weather package ($450-$650) with heated front and rear seats and steering wheel. 

The Sport package ($1,000) features a stiffer suspension, three-spoke steering wheel with shift paddles, and 18-inch road wheels with all-season tires. 

Premium Plus ($1,320-$1,700) upgrades with 18-inch wheels, aluminum door sills, auto-dimming mirrors (with a compass in the inside mirror), driver memory system, self-leveling bi-Xenon headlamps, LED daytime running lights, CD/DVD player, a color display for the trip computer, and voice-recognition navigation with 3G MMI. Options are the same as for the Premium level, except that the Sport package can be ordered with 18-inch ($1,000) or 19-inch ($1,500) wheels. 

Prestige trim is standard on the A6 4.2 and optional ($4,850) on the 3.0T sedan and Avant. Prestige includes all Premium Plus features and adds 18-inch wheels, four-spoke multi-function steering wheel with shift paddles, adaptive headlights with cornering lights, Advanced Key starting, power-adjustable steering column, rearview camera, and Bose surround-sound. Only Prestige buyers can add the Audi Side Assist warning system ($500), but otherwise options are similar to the Premium and Premium Plus levels. 

The S6 sedan ($76,100) features a 435-hp V10 engine (EPA 14/19), bigger brakes, sports suspension, 19-inch wheels and high-performance tires, S-line bodywork trim, quad tailpipes, gray birch wood, specific three-spoke steering wheel and Silk Nappa leather sport seats with integrated headrests, rear spoiler, and is generally equipped to Prestige specification. The S4 shares the Prestige option list as well, plus carbon fiber trim inlays ($400). Additionally, you may specify standard seats in Milano leather and 18-inch wheels with summer tires for areas of iffy infrastructure, with no charge for either. Safety features include traction control, electronic stability program, and anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution, and brake assist. Passive safety features include two-stage frontal airbags, side-impact front airbags to protect the torso, head-protecting curtain side airbags to protect the head for front and rear outboard passengers; and active front head restraints. Rear side airbags are optional ($350) on all versions and a rearview camera comes with navigation. All except the 3.2 models come with all-wheel drive for added traction under power. 

Walkaround

The Audi A6 is a study in excellent design. Flowing lines give the A6 sedan the sleekness of a coupe without the quashed windows and head-enveloping window line. There's simplicity to the upswept door trim and shoulder crease blending into a subtle rear spoiler that suggests elegance and strength. Jewelry and adornment are kept to a minimum; as with an attractive person no additional cosmetics are needed. 

A trapezoidal grille and substantial interlocked rings highlight the front end, so that the grille pattern continues top to bottom, eliminating the flat license-plate section that spilt the opening on pre-2009 models (although in states that require a front plate, there really isn't any other place for it go). Rectangular fog lamps enhance the front styling, and a strip of LED running lamps underlines the headlight housing. At the rear of the A6 are sleek, oblong LED taillights. 

The A6 Avant is an especially sleek-looking wagon, distinguished by dark center pillars, very mildly tapering side windows and sloping roofline with discrete spoiler incorporating the center brake light. The hatch glass angle is more crossover-like, as opposed to a Volvo wagon's upright box rear end; the defroster will quickly shed snow. 

Body panels fit closely together on the A6, around the doors, hood and trunk lid, along lamps and door handles. It's the look of quality, of close tolerances, as is the reassuring thud when you close anything. You won't even find a rubber strip at the top of windshield, nor strips on the sides of the roof. Door jambs and the trunk and hatch openings are all well-finished, and there are myriad seals to keep dirt and wind noise out. Audi is superior to Mercedes at these sorts of details. 

A large color palette and multiple wheel styles and sizes (17-19 inches) help buyers personalize each A6. The 19-inch wheels on the Avant lend the appearance of Audi's 174-mph RS6 superwagon. 

The S6 is distinguished from its less-powerful stalemates by special exterior and interior elements. Most noticeably, it retains the old-style split grille, albeit overlaid with a grid-like pattern. A different front bumper feeds more cooling air and moves the LED daytime running lights to the top of two lower cooling ducts. The front foglamps are incorporated into the headlight housings with tinted covers, the lower door trim is more pronounced, and the integrated trunk spoiler is a bit larger. The aluminum trim surrounds rearview mirror housings. The S6 also has black brake calipers, dual tailpipes each side, special 19-inch wheels with fat tires, and the requisite S6 and V10 badges. Paint choices are limited to a more discrete palette, a good move as the exhaust note attracts enough attention. 

Interior

The Audi A6 cabin is spacious, very well finished, and bathed in daylight. While no one builds the perfect interior, Audi is frequently recognized for its interiors. 

Valcona leather upholstery is standard across the A6 line, including a very attractive combination of amaretto and black. The amaretto on the seat centers is surrounded by black, and on the door panels makes a nice counterpoint to the also-standard wood trim. By making the dashboard black to avoid reflections and the carpet black to minimize showing dirt, they've made an elegant cabin that's four-season functional as well. 

Metallic trim on the dash, air vents, door pulls and many controls is a matte aluminum finish that produces no glare; chrome is used very sparingly. Everything is illuminated, even the door armrests with light pipes hidden under the wood trim. Each door, the area above the glovebox, and the center console are finished in wood, our only concern that the side edges on the console may be more vulnerable to scuffs than leather or vinyl. 

The front seats are comfortable, supportive and offer good power adjustment range; fatigue should never be an issue even with the A6's 500-mile cruising range. Wind, road and engine noise are quelled so conversation is easy, even when driving quickly. 

The rear seats are comfortable, too. Head and leg room are expansive enough to tote around two clients in comfort even if you and they are all six feet or taller. Getting in and out of the back seats is relatively easy thanks to a back door much taller than most sleek sedans, space between the seat and door post that shames most full-size SUVs, and a foot space big enough to slide under the front seat. There are three adjustable headrests, reading lights that can't be seen in the driver's mirror, front seatback storage, and a split rear seatback that folds down with the narrow section behind the driver. 

Up front, everything is oriented around the driver. The driver benefits from a nice four-spoke steering wheel or a nicer, sportier three-spoke wheel; both have thumbwheels and buttons for redundant control, and a clear view of analog instruments, but only the four-spoke wheel can be heated. The center dash, including the navigation screen, is slightly angled toward the driver. Climate controls are located at the bottom, sophisticated but straightforward and easy to operate. At the top of the stack, above the vents, is a crisp seven-inch screen that displays navigation and other functions. The standard trip computer and Driver Information Center features a digital speed indicator. 

Audi's Multi Media Interface, or MMI, features a large knob and 15 buttons set horizontally on the center console to control most interior and many exterior functions. This eliminates a lot of switches, making for an uncluttered dash. Logical grouping eases the acclimation process, yet a few days and familiarization with the owner's manual will you allow you to master MMI quickly and appreciate what you can do with it. As with many new cars you can't just press-and-hold to program a radio preset but it does have a regular round volume knob. The main controller and buttons fall easily to hand right behind the shifter but are not accidentally bumped as on some such system. To ease access by the driver, the glovebox door button is located on the center of dash next to an Off switch for the screen. 

High technology can also be found in what have been traditionally mundane controls. The parking brake is electronic; pull the switch up to set it, press to release it. The hood release operates only when the door is open, good to know. The wipers are speed sensitive. A Bluetooth-enabled interface integrates compatible equipment. The rear camera is predictive, showing where the car will go as the steering wheel is turned. And the trunk and fuel door release buttons are in the door pocket and since you have to lift, not push them, there are no mistakes dropping your phone or sunglasses case in the pocket. 

The A6 does not offer many places to put stuff, an inconvenience. The glovebox is small, especially with the available CD changer and the center armrest storage isn't capacious, but door pockets help. The cup holders are positioned well and contain beverages in spirited driving. 

The trunk is deep enough for a 24-inch roller suitcase. Luggage capacity is nearly 16 cubic feet, more than a BMW 5 series or Acura RL and comparable to the Mercedes E-Class, and it is shaped like most suitcases, with 90-degree angles. Details include plenty of tie-down points, bag hangar hooks, a strap to hold the floor up for access, and a rarity these days, a full-size matching spare alloy wheel and tire. 

The Avant sport wagon offers essentially the same floor layout as the sedan but with the added space afforded by the extra height. An overlooked side benefit of the wagon is that the rear window doesn't fog up as quickly. The luggage compartment offers a variety of configurations and features two securing rails recessed into the floor and four D-rings adjustable over the rail length. The cargo area cover also has a roll-up net to keep cargo or the dog separate from the passengers, and light is sufficient for night loading. Various nets, hooks, straps and posts handle cargo retention duty. The load floor can be folded up and locked in several ways, which provides access to a lower load area lined by a plastic tray, an ideal cubby for stowing wet or muddy gear, and again, a full-sized matching spare. 

The rear hatch opening of the Avant is roughly 42 inches wide by 29 high, and with the rear seats folded the cargo bay is more than six feet long. Powered hatches may be programmed to stop at any height, such as in low-ceiling residential garages, and a groove to grab the bottom of the hatch runs the entire width of it, rather than just one or two hand pockets. 

The S6 cockpit features integral-headrest, heavily bolstered sport seats upholstered in Nappa leather. However, the standard seats in Milano leather are available for folks who might find the sport seats too confining. The three-spoke, power-adjustable sport steering wheel is trimmed in smooth leather and has a color-contrasting double-stitch. The S6 features unique instrument graphics and badging. Aluminum shift paddles and console shifter knob provide a high-tech contrast to the standard gray birch trim or optional carbon fiber inserts. The S6 offers the same cabin and trunk space as an A6 sedan. 

Driving Impression

The Audi A6 is every bit as capable as the lithe, athletic look implies. A solid structure, good suspension tuning, and free-revving engines deliver excellent performance, and all but front-drive 3.2-liter model benefit from the most recent iteration of Audi's quattro all-wheel-drive system. 

The A6 ride is firm but elastic, with large dips and sharp speed bumps managed well. It's among the best in class in comfort and near the top of its class in handling, notably bettered only by a rear-drive BMW. Regardless of which model you choose and its ultimate level of grip, predictable handling characteristics provide confidence. 

Ride quality varies with tire choice, with the optional 19-inch wheels less forgiving over sharp bumps, lane divider dots and so on. We prefer the 18-inch wheels and tires and do not advocate the 19s for year-round driving in the Rust Belt. 

The Servotronic steering allows precise control and the A6 goes exactly where the driver wants it. Grip is excellent. Drive the car to its limit and you'll encounter a small amount of understeer. The Avant exhibits the same characteristics though enthusiast drivers often feel the extra rear weight better balances the car. The highly rigid chassis gives the car the feeling of being carved from one block of material. This rigidity allowed Audi engineers to precisely tune the suspension. The A6 uses Audi's proven four-link front suspension and the self-tracking trapezoidal-link rear suspension adapted from the A8. 

The new-for-2010 3.2-liter V6 (replacing the previous 3.2-liter) is all-aluminum in construction and fueled by direct injection. Aided by Audi's Valvelift system (continuously variable valve timing, with two-stage intake valve lift) it develops 265 horsepower, 10 more than its predecessor, while squeezing one more highway mile out of every gallon of Premium. Peak torque remains the same, 243 pound-feet at 3250 rpm, so the A6 3.2 retains its edge over BMW's lighter 528i, which rates just 200 pound-feet, albeit at a lower 2750 rpm. Audi says the 2010 A6 3.2 can accelerate from 0-60 mph in 6.9 seconds, same as the 2009 model. The CVT may initially feel or sound odd to those unfamiliar with one, but it's ideal for the best blend of performance and fuel economy. 

The 3.0T 3.0-liter supercharged V6 gives up just 2 mpg EPA highway to the 3.2, but adds 35 horsepower and 67 pound-feet of torque and delivers the torque over a broad range, 2500-5100 rpm. This would be too much for front-wheel drive to cope with, hence all 3.0T models employ quattro all-wheel drive. 

The quattro system, revised for 2009, has a more rear-bias nominal power split of 40 percent front/60 percent rear to make the all-wheel drive feel and respond more like a rear-wheel-drive car. Still, the A6 never feels nor responds exactly like a rear-drive car. 

The added power translates to a one-second drop in 0-60 mph time, which Audi quotes at 5.9 seconds. The engine is as smooth and quiet as the 3.2, so you find yourself inching up the speedometer more easily. Perhaps just as important, the 300-horsepower, 310 pound-feet ratings put Audi on par with BMW's 300/300-rated twin-turbo 3-liter in the more-expensive 535xi sedan and wagon. 

The silky 4.2-liter V8 produces 350 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque, and comes with larger brakes to go with it. The 4.2 is just 0.1 second quicker to 60 mph than the 3.0T because of extra weight in features and equipment and only slightly better torque than the 3.0T. Still the 4.2 gives up 2-3 mpg to the 3.0T. 

All transmissions offer three shift modes. The standard mode is more than adequate for the majority of circumstances, and ideal for inclement weather. Sport mode is best for those more concerned with performance than economy or for limiting shifting over undulating and winding roads. Manual mode lets the driver choose gears, although it will still upshift or downshift automatically if you reach the engine's limits; that strategy may not satisfy purists, but it's handy when you forget you've left it in Manual mode. All the gearboxes shift smoothly and rev-match downshifts under certain circumstances. 

The S6 features a 435-hp version of the 5.2-liter V10 engine used in the S8. With nearly 400 pound-feet of torque across the middle rev range and quattro to put the power down, we've done 0-60 mph in an S6 in less than 5 seconds, in the rain. Fuel economy ratings drop to 14/19 mpg, however. 

The S6 gets massive brakes, nearly 1.5 inches larger in diameter than the already arresting 4.2 V8, sticky 265/35ZR19 tires, firmer suspension, aerodynamics to keep it grounded at 150 mph, the best lights, and seats to keep you in place while you use it all. And while the S6 is certainly firm, the kind of firm where you would rather be the driver than the passenger, it is docile enough to drive everyday, in traffic, if necessary. 

The S6 competes with the BMW M5, Mercedes E63 AMG, and with the Lexus IS-F, Jaguar XFR, and Cadillac CTS-V. The ride and handling prowess of an M5 doesn't come cheap, with a base price $10,000 beyond the S6, while the CTS-V offers the best bang for the buck. Many of the other cars are faster and handle better, but none of them offer the space of the S6 nor the all-wheel drive that will put the power down in poor conditions. 

Summary

The Audi A6 is a driver's sedan that never forgets it's a luxury four-door. It's a wonderful car for quick commuting, long-distance high-speed travel, and spirited driving. It's smooth, quiet, polished and has all the requisite amenities. It competes with the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and BMW 5 Series in terms of efficient performance and safe and secure motoring, particularly when weather enters the picture. And in this class it's a decent value proposition as well, typically undercutting its primary competitors on price but not content. 

NewCarTestDrive.com correspondent G.R. Whale filed this report after his test drive of the complete A6 line (3.2, 3.0T, Avant and S6 in Los Angeles, and 3.0 TDI and RS6 Avant in Germany), with Mitch McCullough reporting on the A6 from Milan, Greg Brown reporting on the A6 from Italy's Dolomites, and Kirk Bell in the S6 in Chicago. 

Model Lineup

Audi A6 3.2 ($45,200); A6 3.0T ($50,200); A6 Avant 3.0T ($53,310); A6 4.2 ($60,950); S6 ($76,100). 

Assembled In

Neckarsulm, Germany. 

Options As Tested

Premium Plus package ($1,700) includes 7-inch color screen for trip computer, driver memory system, auto-dimming for all mirrors, compass, CD/DVD changer, self-leveling bi-Xenon headlamps, LED running lamps, 18-inch alloy wheels, voice-recognition navigation, aluminum door sills; Cold Weather package ($650) includes heated front and rear seats, heated steering wheel. 

Model Tested

Audi A6 3.2 Premium ($45,200). 

*The data and content on this web site is subject to change without notice. Neither AOL nor any of its data or content providers shall be liable for errors in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

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