And then there was senior editor Joe DeMatio, who at one point pulled over to the side of the road in frustration. "Why, why, why, is there no button labeled climate?" he whined. "It's easier to get air flowing using iDrive!" Histrionics aside, it is true that, as contributor Ronald Ahrens remarked, "MMI is always one step more complicated than necessary."
While things didn't always go smoothly with MMI, the same can't be said for the A6's powertrain. Audi's midline sedan is available with either a 3.1-liter V-6 or a 4.2-liter V-8, and we were happy that we opted for the former and its more-than-adequate 255 hp and 243 lb-ft of torque. With all-wheel drive, our A6 weighed in at more than two tons, but the V-6 and its six-speed manu-matic were up to the task of moving that much metal. "The engine is like buttah--so smooth at speed," wrote production editor Jennifer Misaros. "The 3.1-liter engine is great on the freeway, with plenty of passing power even at high speeds," added assistant editor Erik Johnson. "I love the transmission. Sport mode keeps the engine in its sweet spot."
Not so sweet was the drive-by-wire throttle mapping, which causes a maddening hesitation on initial throttle tip-in. "The first bit of pedal travel does nothing, and the next bit does too much," said Lorio. "The unpredictability of the throttle drives me crazy," wrote Blackwell. "I stopped for a few minutes (while in Drive, with my foot on the brake pedal) to purchase a pass at the campground. During that time, the throttle presumably 'learned' that I wasn't driving with a heavy foot. When I pulled away, I was rewarded with several seconds of sluggish acceleration, despite throttle input that should have resulted in a moderately quick launch."
The A6's chassis dynamics also let us down. The car felt harsh and brittle over bumps and expansion joints, while at the same time, it floated over crests and wallowed through corners. The upgraded wheel-and-tire package ($1000) was likely part of the problem. The eighteen-inch rims and low-profile, 40-series tires certainly looked sporty, but they didn't exactly absorb road imperfections. We didn't opt for the sport package on our test car, and forgoing it was probably a bad decision, because the tighter suspension tuning would have addressed the floatiness and soft cornering. On the other hand, the ride with the low-profile tires was already fairly harsh, and the sport package would have exacerbated it, especially on rough Michigan roads.