The current-generation A6 is one of the last vehicles in Audi's lineup not wearing Audi's new design language from nose to tail. A 2008 refresh added the new corporate face, but the 2012 model gains sheetmetal nearly identical to that of its larger A8 sibling all the way to the rear bumper. The only real differences between the two models, apart from size, are different wheels, headlights, foglights, and a slightly different grille. Even the headlights, despite the elongated, jagged shape resemble those on the A8.
Although the new A6's sheetmetal was done in part to give the A6 a familial Audi resemblance, it was also styled in the name of aerodynamic efficiency. Audi's designers aimed to help improve fuel efficiency by making the new A6 as aerodynamic as possible, achieving an impressive 0.26 drag coefficient.
Audi's new A6 may wear a similar suit to the A8, but what's found once the suit is removed is significantly different. The A6 uses a version of Audi's steel and aluminum space frame architechture, which helps the new A6 weigh 15-percent less than the current car.
U.S.-spec engine and transmission options have yet to be revealed, but in Europe, Audi is giving buyers a choice of five engines initially. The most efficient of these new engines is Audi's 2.0-liter, turbo-diesel I-4 that puts out 170 horsepower and achieves 48 mpg U.S. on the Euro combined cycle. Audi also offers two states of tune -- 204 and 245 horsepower -- for its 3.0-liter, turbo-diesel V-6, one of which may makes its way Stateside. The other engine choices currently are a normally-aspirated, 2.8-liter V-6 that puts out 210 horsepower and Audi's 300-horsepower, 3.0-liter, supercharged V-6. Front-wheel drive models can be equipped with either a six-speed manual transmission or a CVT while all Quattro models feature a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
Later next year however, Audi is adding another powertrain choice in the form of a hybrid. The A6 hybrid will feature the same powertrain as seen in the Q5 Quattro Hybrid. This means it will use a 211-horsepower, 2.0-liter, turbocharged I4 and a 33-kilowatt (45 horsepower) electric motor as a means of propulsion. Unlike the other powertrain options, the hybrid uses a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission.
Inside the new A6, you're greeted by a typically fabulous looking Audi interior. We'll have to wait to judge the actual materials and fit-and-finish until we drive it, but it looks to be the same high quality we've come to expect from Audi. Cloth seats come standard in Europe, but leather is likely to be the base material in the States as is the case with the current car. The wood veneer accents offered include ash and walnut, but the layered oak from the A7 will be added later.
Of course no Audi interior would be complete without including the latest and greatest technology. As such, the new A6 offers Audi's latest MMI system, complete with touchpad, as seen in the A7 and A8. Audi has also included its Google Earth navigation option, which allows users to see 3-D layouts of the area they're headed to or driving in.
Look for Audi's new, 2012 A6 to hit dealerships early next year.