Under the hood: some new motivation
Two of the three current engines won't reappear in the new model. The 4.2 V-8 is gone. The 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 (again badged 3.0T) returns as the volume engine. And in place of the entry-level 3.2-liter V-6 is Audi's familiar 2.0T, paired with the Multitronic CVT. Available at launch only with front-wheel drive, the 2.0T eventually also will be offered with Quattro all-wheel drive. As much as we love the 2.0T in other applications (A4, A5), the turbo four's 211 hp is a significant ride down compared with the previous V-6 engine's 265 hp. Although the 2.0T's fuel economy of 25/33 mpg city/highway is certainly enticing, it will be interesting to see whether buyers will find the smaller engine adequate in the A6.
Unfortunately, there was no A6 2.0T on hand at the launch event we attended. Instead, we spent most of our time in with the 3.0T, which is paired exclusively with Quattro and whose performance is unlikely to disappoint anyone. Again with 300 horsepower, and with a bit more torque-325 lb-ft, up from 310-this muscular six makes the new A6 splendidly quick. The engine is also utterly unobtrusive, never even hinting that there's a supercharger at work. In fact, the one criticism some might have of this engine is that it lacks any real aural presence. The only way we could get a rise out of it was slapping off some rev-matched downshifts with the seven-speed S-Tronic dual-clutch gearbox, but U.S.-market cars won't have that transmission; instead our 3.0T will use an eight-speed automatic. With two more ratios than the current car's six-speed automatic, the new transmission helps the 3.0T improve its EPA ratings from 18/16 to 19/28 mpg (city/highway).
We also had a chance to take a turn in an A6 with a 3.0-liter TDI. Again, this European-spec model wasn't exactly what we'll get in the States, but Audi is planning to add this engine to the U.S. lineup, with output expected to fall somewhere between that of the two European variants' 204-245 hp, and 295-369 lb-ft of torque. The diesel is responsive and extremely well-mannered-its quietness is really astounding. North American buyers won't get the auto stop/start feature nor will we get the A6 hybrid, which pairs the turbocharged 2.0-liter four and an electric motor for an impressive 245 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque.