Change at the top
Audi's new A6 is the third new model in the brand's large-sedan family. The redesigned A8 flagship went on sale in the States last fall, the new A7 fastback sedan reaches U.S. dealers in May, and the redesigned A6 completes the changeover when it arrives in September as a 2012 model.
Audi has long been lauded for its design, but judging from the new A6 (and the A8 before it), the company now appears content to slowly evolve its form language. Just fractionally lower and shorter in length, the new car's only significant dimensional changes are in width-where it's 2.9 inches wider-and in wheelbase. The reconfigured powertrain (first seen on the A5) has finally come to the A6, allowing the front axle to move forward and resulting in a three-inch-shorter front overhang and a consequently longer wheelbase. Aside from that alteration of proportions, the new look mostly involves tweaks. The shape of the grille opening has been revised, making it a hexagon; the rear fenders sit out from the greenhouse; and LED lighting is more widely used. To the previous LED daytime running lights, the new A6 adds LED taillamps and (as an option) all-LED headlights.
Perhaps more so than with exterior styling, Audi has made its mark recently with its interior design, and here the changes are more evident. The new A6 features a redesigned dash with elongated trim panels that wrap around onto the doors. In our test car, the trim was a unique-looking planked oak veneer; brushed metal is also available. The new instrument cluster is more three-dimensional and sits in a curved backdrop. The comfortable front seats include adjustment for seat-cushion length and four-way movable head restraints. In the rear, even six-foot passengers have adequate headroom under the sloping roof, but the seat cushion is low. Knee clearance is good, and foot room is adequate.