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