From the moment we pull out of the underground parking garage at Audi's space-age headquarters in Ingolstadt, the light blue A6 becomes the center of everybody's attention. Audi drivers in particular go nuts trying to catch a glimpse of the new sedan and its controversial single-frame grille. As we stop to buy the obligatory toll sticker on the freeway to Austria, five occupants of an A6 Avant swarm out, then fire more questions at us than a trained salesperson could answer. The response during the three-day drive is positive, occasionally even enthusiastic. Thanks to clever advance publicity from the Pikes Peak, Nuvolari, and Le Mans show cars, Audi's future family face is met with almost unanimous approval.
Although our car ran on standard sixteen-inch wheels shod with modest 225/55HR-16 Continental ContiPremiumContact tires, it didn't soak up ripples, bumps, and grooves quite as efficiently as an E-class or a 5-series BMW. Extra money buys wider seventeen- or eighteen-inch rims. An optional adaptive air suspension, coming in 2005, is said to improve the ride at low speed and over imperfections such as expansion joints and manhole covers.