For us, the Mercedes-Benz E500 is certainly of the elite. As Gillies says, "After a strange hiatus, we have a Benz that feels the way a Benz should. It's solid, planted, and poised, and it doesn't make any excuses for being a German luxury car." We rate the Lexus GS430 just a notch higher than the Mercedes, because it maintains its standard of extraordinary refinement in a package that drives with captivating enthusiasm. "The GS should finally get Lexus the respect it deserves," says Lerner, "because it competes with the European marques in terms of emotion, lan, and prestige."
We are surprised that our three days of driving have brought us to see the Audi A6 4.2 Quattro as the right car to drive. We've grown accustomed to thinking of any Audi as a nearly-there kind of car, but the A6 delivers such extraordinary satisfaction in every aspect of driving that we find it irresistible. Gillies says, "It is both beautiful and bang up-to-date, proving that being at the cutting edge doesn't mean missing the mark. It feels bored at 80 mph and doesn't break a sweat at 100 mph." Johnson notes, "It isn't a superstar in any single category, but it possesses such a high level of excellence in all areas that it deserves the gold medal." Sherman says simply, "I would happily live with it."
The Audi A6 delivers a premium experience, and it marks you as a driver who appreciates both great design and great driving.
Of course, such artistic excellence needs to be matched by practical excellence in such things as quality, durability, and even residual value, and that's the aspect of the Audi equation that remains unproven. For now, though, the A6 is unquestionably a great car, and we think it provides a solid foundation on which to build a great car company. As our experience in Palm Springs reminds us, there's no reason to settle for less than the best.
Acura: 3.5L SOHC V-6, 300 hp, 260 lb-ft
Audi: 4.2L DOHC V-8, 335hp, 310 ft-lb
BMW: 4.4L DOHC V-8, 325 hp, 330 ft-lb
Cadillac: 4.6L DOHC V-8, 320 hp, 315 ft-lb
Infiniti: 4.5L DOHC V-8, 335 hp, 340 lb-ft
Jaguar: 4.2L DOHC V-8, 294 hp, 304 lb-ft
Lexus: 4.3L DOHC V-8, 300 hp, 325 lb-ft
Mercedes-Benz: 5.0L SOHC V-8, 302 hp, 339 lb-ft