When I first got into the Audi A6 3.0T, I thought that something had gone wrong with the MMI, because when I pressed the nav button, the system told me navigation wasn’t installed. I thought this was a software glitch, as I’ve never seen an MMI-equipped Audi without navigation, but a little research revealed the Q7 and the A6 come with a full MMI system but no navigation. Bummer. I know I’d be upset seeing that nav button and not having the $1800 option.
I had to really listen to hear the supercharger in this car. There is virtually no whine, and the throttle response is instantaneous. The obvious comparison is to BMW’s 3.0-liter twin-turbo I-6, which is much more obviously boosted since the power hits so hard when the turbos come on. The Audi is much more linear in its power delivery, which makes the A6 feel much smoother than a 535xi. Those choosing an Audi will also enjoy a savings of about $3000 over an all-wheel-drive 5-series and gain an extra mile per gallon in the city and on the highway.
Overall the A6 feels quite nice. The suspension is a bit softer and smoother than a Mercedes-Benz or a BMW, but the car can still be driven rather spiritedly on a back road. MMI is easy to use, and the stereo provides a pleasant listening experience (which is a good thing, because there’s no upgrade for the stereo from the factory). Everything inside the cabin looks and feels good to the touch. Add up all those individual characteristics, plus Audi’s signature Quattro all-wheel-drive system, and it’s tough to think of a better luxury sedan for people who live in climates that see lots of rain or snow.
Phil Floraday, Senior Online Editor
I enjoyed the smooth, instant power of the supercharged 3.0-liter. I’d need some more seat time to say it’s better than BMW’s silky six, but it’s definitely up to the task of moving this 4000-pound vehicle with authority. The ride/handling balance was spot on, but the steering wheel is lifeless, more in line with a Buick Century than with the A6’s German competitors.
It is indeed surprising that a company whose motto is “Progress through technology” doesn’t include more features on a sedan costing $52,425. To get a backup camera, you need to upgrade to the “Prestige.” Want rear-side air bags? That’s a $350 option. I should note, however, that the BMW 5-Series and even the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class are just as stingy on standard equipment, and neither offers standard all-wheel drive.
Concerns over what you don’t get melt away when you take in the A6’s cabin. There’s a reason that Audi is the benchmark for interior design, and this model is no exception. The combination of high quality materials, beautiful shapes, and unusual colors (especially the cocoa headliner) make for a high-class experience.
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
This 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 (3.0T) definitely has more go than the normally aspirated 3.1-liter V-6 in our long-departed Four Seasons 2005 A6. And that’s not surprising, given the new engine’s addition of 45 hp and 67 lb-ft of torque, which doesn’t sacrifice fuel economy (actually, the new, force-fed V-6 yields an improvement of 1 mpg both in the city and on the highway). Like David and Phil, I had a hard time detecting the supercharger, although I think I still prefer BMW’s twin-turbo six. But I reserve the right to change my mind once I sample the 3.0T in the smaller Audi S4.
It can be difficult to focus on a powertrain when you’re seated in such a sumptuous cabin, however. This particular A6’s interior features not only the fantastic materials that we’ve come to expect and love from Ingolstadt but also a gorgeous color scheme, with beautiful chocolate highlights and aluminum-look trim. Outside, this A6 has cool, updated taillights that more closely mimic those of the newish A5 and A4 as well as LED running lights in front. Even the ride seems less harsh versus that of our long-term example. My only complaint after an evening with the A6 is that the rear seat belt buckles are mounted flush with the seat cushions, which makes it difficult to install a child seat in the middle position.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
My spirits lifted considerably when I walked out to our parking structure on Friday evening and saw my ride for the weekend, this handsome black A6 with a gorgeous two-tone interior. The good vibes continued as soon as I had an opportunity to really dip into the all-new, supercharged V-6. This is a honey of an engine with, as others have noted, very linear power delivery and a distinct lack of supercharger whine. Not for one moment over the weekend did I wish I had a V-8 or a turbocharged, rather than supercharged, six.
The rest of the A6’s dynamics, alas, are not quite up to the powertrain. This is a luxury sedan, after all, not a sport-luxury sedan, so in this car it’s all about going fast on the freeway. On back roads, body roll and a lack of steering feel get in the way of any shenanigans.
The supercharged V-6, of course, was developed primarily for the upcoming S4 sport sedan, replacing its long-serving V-8. (It’s really just a footnote to the A6 and is a way to finish out the current model.) “We decided on the supercharged V-6 because of packaging,” I was told by Wolfgang Hatz, the VW Group’s gregarious head of powertrain development. “The second reason is for the pickup [acceleration]. Put the pedal down – it’s not bad, I have to say,” he declared with a wicked grin. “Perhaps in the future we will also have a turbo” [one assumes he meant for the S4].
We drive the S4 later this year, and it goes on sale here this fall. In it, the supercharged V-6 will be mated to a seven-speed S Tronic (dual-clutch) transmission. Audi of America says that the S4 will be priced to compete with the twin-turbo BMW 335i, which starts at just over $40K.
Joe DeMatio, Executive Editor
My love for this new 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 seems to skew my perceptions of the rest of the car. Having seen how strong it pulled the hefty A6 to 80 mph on the freeway, I was looking forward to getting the car onto some twisty two-lane roads out by my apartment.
Sadly, that’s where my love affair faltered. Although the engine seems tuned for a sport sedan, the chassis isn’t. Audi aimed for a smooth, premium ride (which it nailed, by the way), and seemed to neglect how the car handles in corners. It’s inoffensive, but it’s vapid in sharp switchbacks and the steering seems quite lifeless.
As with most modern Audis, the A6’s cabin is a sumptuous, stylish place to spend time in, but as others have noted, it’s missing a few things that should be included at this price point. Navigation, for starters, and I’d prefer an iPod or USB audio input in lieu of the six-disc CD changer tucked away in the glovebox.
The new engine and stylish tweaks may help the A6 remain relevant in Audi’s lineup, but I think I’d check out the new Mercedes-Benz E-class – due in dealers this summer – before cutting a check for one.
Evan McCausland, Web Producer
What a beautiful two-tone leather interior in this A6. Even after having driven numerous Audis over the past several years, I marvel at the interior design and the quality of the fit and finish every time I get behind the wheel of one. It’s nice to see that, in an age where corporate cost-cutting is mandatory, there’s at least one carmaker that hasn’t compromised on material quality – at least not to the point that it’s apparent to the consumer.
I only drove this particular A6 on the freeway. In that environment, the A6 shines. Power delivery from the supercharged V-6 is smooth and direct, and the suspension handles irregular surfaces at speed without unduly upsetting the ride. This is a car I’d happily take on a long-distance trip – although with the navigation system as an option.
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor
2009 Audi A6 3.0T
- Base price (with destination): $50,925
- Price as tested: $52,425
- Premium Plus model $1,500
- Fuel economy: 18 / 26 / 21 mpg (city/hwy/combined)
- Engine: Supercharged V-6
- Size: 3.0L
- Horsepower: 300 hp @ 5100 rpm
- Torque: 310 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm
- Transmission: 6-speed automatic with Tiptronic
- Weight: 4123 lb
- Wheels/Tires: 18″ aluminum wheels
- 245/40R-18 all-season tires