You might not notice the 2012 Audi A6 at first. Although the classy, taut lines look expensive, the overall appearance is somewhat understated. Whereas the larger A7 and A8 have chromed front grilles, the A6 has a gloss-black beak, further turning down the flash factor. There is no denying that the car still has curb appeal, turning a few heads and drawing awed compliments from friends.
Audi says the A6 represents a holistic approach to improving efficiency, achieved primarily by cutting fat and reducing drag. Much of the suspension and body is made from aluminum, and even the exhaust is 2.5 pounds lighter than before, making the 2012 A6 almost 80 pounds lighter than an equivalent 2011 model. Wind-cheating underbody trays and anti-turbulence flares mean the A6 is more aerodynamic than a Chevrolet Volt.
As a result of all the attention to detail, the Audi A6 is close to perfect on the highway. The supercharged engine settles into a gentle stride in eighth gear, wafting along nearly inaudibly. Bumps and road imperfections are diluted before they reach the cabin, and wind noise is minimal even when exceeding the speed limit. The engine’s abundance of torque makes passing and merging effortless. Around town the A6 likewise provides a genteel driving experience befitting of a luxury machine.
A T-Mobile 3G connection provides an in-car Wi-Fi network to which up to eight devices can connect; an Audi PR rep told me that on a recent road trip, he made his wife drive so he could surf the Internet from the passenger seat. I found the connection fast enough for watching YouTube videos on an Apple iPad, although outside urban areas the connection speed is apparently slower. The service is free for the first six months of ownership, and then costs about $30 a month for an unlimited data package. Thanks to an exclusive deal between Audi and Google, the car’s navigation system displays satellite imagery from Google Maps, allowing you to zoom in close for an aerial view of your surroundings.
The A6 is the sort of car that makes driving a joy rather than a chore. I didn’t want to turn in the keys and decided that if I ever strike it rich, I’ll buy an A6 for long-distance highway trips. So that I can surf the Internet from the passenger seat, of course.
Jake Holmes, Associate Web Editor
This car is a tech convention on wheels. Jake mentioned that the A6 has a T-Mobile 3G connection for in-car Wi-Fi, a nifty system that I unfortunately did not have the pleasure of trying out. I did, however, use the car’s spectacular navigation system numerous times. At first I first thought using Google Maps for simple navigation was a cheesy gimmick. By the end of the weekend, I was smitten. While there’s no substantial increase in functionality, Google Maps is more aesthetically pleasing than your everyday navigation system.
Still, the four-door needs more than some space-age equipment to work in the real world. How about a hearty, supercharged V-6, a smooth-shifting, eight-speed automatic transmission, and tidy good looks? That should about do it.
Chris Nelson, Road Test Editor
With the 2012 Audi A6 now on the road, Audi has officially become a top-tier luxury brand. Although the A6 doesn’t sell as well as the A4, there was a very visible gap in the middle of Audi’s range after the A4 and A8 were updated and the aging A6 soldiered on a few more model years. Now that the A6 is up to Audi’s current design standards inside and out, it has become my favorite midsize German luxury sedan. BMW has lost its mojo with the current 5-series and the only Mercedes E-Class I want comes from AMG. The A6 is now the perfect luxury car.
Audi has done a great job with the supercharged V-6 and eight-speed automatic transmission in the A6. It’s very smooth, and easy to drive away from a stop (BMW, please examine this powertrain and make the 5-series this smooth) It’s also happy to be driven aggressively if you’re in the mood to attack a twisty road. The 19/28 mpg ratings are very good considering the 4000-pound curb weight and Quattro all-wheel-drive system. The competitors offer rear-wheel-drive cars in this segment, but Audi’s AWD system is so seamless that I can’t think of a scenario where it wouldn’t be welcome.
Though declaring an Audi interior best in class has become a cliche, it’s still true with the A6. Integrating Google Earth, beautiful materials, smart design, good ergonomics, and all the other technology shoppers have come to expect in a modern luxury car makes for a fantastic experience whether you’re driving or riding as a passenger. I enjoy the subdued exteriors that define Audi cars because there’s always a very special interior behind it and I spend my time behind the wheel, not admiring my cars from the outside.
Phil Floraday, Senior Web Editor
The new A6 feels much lighter on its feet than its predecessor. Steering precision, directional stability, grip, body control, and ride comfort are all exemplary, even if one might wish for a tad more steering feel. I cannot really find anything negative to say about this 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 and 8-speed automatic powertrain, which sounds great and delivers nonstop, smooth power at any speed. Phil Floraday mentions that he sees no penalty for the A6 having Quattro all-wheel drive rather than simply rear-wheel drive, and part of the credit for that probably goes to the fact that the A6’s weight distribution is now 55/45% front/rear, which is 3% more at the rear than before. Overall, the new A6 doesn’t feel overtly hard-edged, but instead has a nice veneer of civilized comfort and a sense of athleticism right below the surface. The hard-edged bit can wait for an RS version, should Audi choose to bring us one.
Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor
The Audi A6 has, for the last several years, been a very good mid-size luxury sedan that nevertheless always came in third in a field of three against its German competitors, the BMW 5-Series and the Mercedes E-class. Audi has upped its game with the A6 by shaving weight, adding a smooth-as-silk eight-speed transmission, and making the cabin a high-tech hotspot. This car is simply a pleasure to drive. If you’re stuck in traffic, no problem — the cabin environment is so welcoming that you’re unaffected by the outside world. That doesn’t mean that you’re so shielded that you can’t have a little fun, however. Find a lonesome stretch of road, mash the accelerator, and let the 310 supercharged horsepower loose. Not a bad way to spend some time behind the wheel.
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor
The Audi A6 is my favorite car in this segment because of the compact, agile feel from behind the wheel. In many ways, it occupies a position that belongs to BMW–or at least once belonged to BMW. As the 5-series has become a large and soft luxury sedan in the vein of the Mercedes-Benz E-class, Audi has stepped in with the truest sport sedan in the segment.
With the supercharged V-6, the A6 charges off the line and pulls strongly through a full sweep of the tachometer. At highway speeds, the quick and graceful eight-speed automatic keeps the engine at the ready for rapid sprints up to triple-digit velocities. The new 2012 model adopts a rear-biased all-wheel-drive system that delivers both all-weather security and performance traction. For daily commutes and spirited driving, the drivetrain and chassis are every bit as good as the rear-wheel-drive that comes standard with most competitors. The A6 corners with minimal body roll and rides over bumps with a poised but comfortable demeanor.
As good as Audi’s interiors have been recently, the A6 makes significant improvements. I’m glad to see that the climate controls have been simplified, no longer requiring you to tap a button then spin a knob to accomplish one function. And the trickle-down technology from the A8 includes the Google Earth imagery that sets a new standard for clarity, sharpness, and detail.
Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor
I admittedly had some reservations at the New York auto show when Audi brass proclaimed they wanted to shift more volume to its larger D-segment automobiles, especially the new A6. A neat idea, but as Phil Floraday noted, the last A6 never really sold very well in our market. Can this new model break from that tradition?
After spending a night with the car, I certainly think so. Audi’s superb cabins and slick styling have always drawn attention, but the way both are executed on the A6 almost makes the A6 feel as if it deserves to be a little higher on Audi’s totem pole than it actually is. Though some cues are perhaps a little more subdued than on the primo A8, I actually mistook our A6 for Audi’s flagship when searching for it in a parking structure. And I was delightfully surprised to hop behind the wheel and discover essentially the same magnificent interior and advanced technology we raved about in the A7.
This infusion of premium style helps round out the A6’s character. Although the car has always driven decently, it seemed to lack the visual and physical panache exhibited by other offerings, even within Audi’s own lineup. Thankfully, that’s no longer the case. As Phil mentions, this car seems to have found the right formula to become a mainstay in the large luxury sedan segment — a market where Audi had previously played second- or third-fiddle, at best.
Evan McCausland, Associate Web Editor
2012 Audi A6 3.0 TFSI Quattro sedan
Base price (with destination): $50,775
Price as tested: $57,470
3.0-liter supercharged V-6 w/direct injection
8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission
17-in. alloy wheels w/all-season tires
ABS w/brake assist
Audi Drive Select
Audi pre-sense basic
Electronic stability control
Tire pressure monitoring system
Quattro permanent all-wheel drive
Speed-sensitive power steering
5-in. driver information system
Audi music interface
Multi-media interface radio plus w/high-resolution color screen
Rain & light sensors
Power glass sunroof
Three-zone climate control
Tilt & telescopic steering column
Options on this vehicle:
Aviator blue metallic paint – $475
Black interior – $0
Premium Plus package – $4220
18-in. wheels w/all-season tires
Audi navigation plus w/MMI touch
Xenon plus headlights w/LED DRLs
Front & rear parking sensors
7-in. color driver information system
19-in. Sport Package – $1500
19-in. wheels w/summer performance tires
3-spoke multifunction steering wheel
Audi side assist – $500
Front filler panel – $0
Key options not on vehicle:
Prestige package – $2660 over Premium Plus package
Innovation package – $5800
Bang & Olufsen advanced sound system – $5900
Driver assistance package – $2500
Cold weather package – $450
3.0-liter supercharged V-6
Horsepower: 310 hp @ rpm
Torque: 325 lb-ft @ rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Curb weight: 4045 lb
17-in. alloy wheels w/all-season tires