Talk about déjà vu — this is almost an exact clone of the A6 3.0T we sampled two years ago. Same black paint; same sumptuous cocoa-on-graphite leather interior; same superb supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 underhood.
But oh, what a difference the sport package makes. Adding the $1900 option dramatically transforms the suspension’s character. I’d argue this is the best pairing for the grunt offered by the supercharged six-cylinder: the ride is considerably firmer, but the steering carries more weight and is slightly sharper, and the A6 exhibits much less body roll when pushed hard in corners. It isn’t for everyone, but for those looking to drive — and drive hard — it may be worth the extra cost.
The A6 is still a competent package, but after seven years with little cosmetic change, its design is starting to age. That will be rectified next year, when an all-new 2012 A6, which incorporates a number of the design and technological features found on the new A7 and A8. I don’t fault anyone for waiting for the new model, but the current A6 is still a remarkably stylish, comfortable, and composed automobile.
Evan McCausland, Web Producer
What an engine! It’s incredibly smooth, refined, and somewhat unassuming. That is, until you mash the throttle to make a quick pass on the highway. Power from the supercharged V-6 is instantaneous and copious.
I’m not sure if it will be offered in the new A6, but I think the optional sport package would benefit from the addition of driver-selectable settings, especially for the suspension. More often that not, the firmer setup that comes with the sport package is an improvement but on several occasions when the pavement was uneven or seriously broken, I wished for a more forgiving ride.
Jennifer Misaros, Production Editor
There was some grumbling at the Audi stand of the Detroit stand about how the new Audi A6 looks very much like the old A6. The old A6 in our garage reminds us that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Seven years after its introduction, it’s hard to point to anything particularly wrong with the car. It’s true the fish-mouthed styling has all but lost its shock value, but it hardly looks unattractive. The same goes for the interior, which was so far ahead of its time that competitors still haven’t been able to surpass it. The Jaguar XF may have a prettier cabin, and the new BMW 5-Series may have a few more features, but no one has quite combined functionality and aesthetic appeal like Audi.
Like Evan, I’m a fan of the sport package. The A6 still doesn’t turn-in as sharply as I’d like (keeping in mind this car was wearing winter tires), but once the nose gets moving, it follows your steering inputs faithfully. The 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 has my vote over the 535i’s (also excellent) in-line six for the instantaneous way it responds to a jab of the throttle. It makes this big sedan feel limber and ready to pounce.
Overall, the A6 is not as emotional or invigorating to drive as an Infiniti M37 or a Jaguar XF, but it doesn’t need to be. The A6 strikes a nice balance between performance and comfort, style and conservativeness. No reason the new one shouldn’t follow the same path.
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
We first drove this C6-generation A6 in 2004, but the model has aged incredibly well, thanks in part to the extreme degree of modernity it exhibited way back then. Still, I’m anxiously looking forward to getting behind the wheel of the redesigned 2012 A6, if only because I fell in love with it when I saw it at the 2011 Detroit show.
As good as it is, the outgoing A6 does still have a few of the issues we complained about with our Four Seasons 2005 A6, such as a brittle ride, annoyingly variable steering effort, and an overly sensitive gas pedal that can make it tricky to drive smoothly around town. I must say, however, that the interior still looks great, particularly in this two-tone leather, and the HID headlights are excellent.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
I’m extremely envious that senior editor Joe Lorio just had the opportunity to drive the new
2012 Audi A6, but spending a night in the 2011 A6 is no bad thing. Despite the fact that it’s an outgoing model, I’d still rather own the A6 than the BMW 535i or the Infiniti M37, both of which are new models. Audi’s six-speed transmission is smoother than the seven-speed unit in Infiniti’s M37 and the engine is more polished. Unlike the BMW 535i, the A6 accelerates and corners with a fluidity and lightness that makes quick driving feel effortless.
The supercharged V-6 is a gem of an engine for its off-the-line response, broad power band, and glassy smoothness. Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive transfers all 300 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque to the pavement without any drama. Really the only improvements I’m left wishing for are more weight and substance to the steering and a fresh interior to maintain Audi’s reputation and fend off the challenge from Infiniti.
Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor
2011 Audi A6 3.0T
Base price (with destination): $51,075
Price as tested: $56,275
3.0-liter supercharged V-6 engine
6-speed automatic transmission
4-wheel disc brakes with ABS
17-inch alloy wheels
Quattro all-wheel drive
Electronic stability program
Audi MMI with 7-inch color screen
Multi-function steering wheel
Sirius satellite radio
Dual-zone automatic climate control
Tilt and telescoping steering column
Remote keyless entry
Split-folding rear seat
Heated front seats
Power glass moonroof
Front and rear fog lights
Tire pressure monitoring system
Options on this vehicle:
Prestige package — $3200
Audi parking system with rearview camera
Auto-dimming rearview mirror
Audi Xenon headlamps with LED daytime running lights
BOSE surround sound
Power tilt/telescoping steering column
MMI navigation plus with voice control
19-inch sport package — $1500
19-inch alloy wheels
3-spoke multi-function steering wheel
Audi side assist — $500
Key options not on vehicle:
Cold weather package — $450
Rear side airbags — $350
18 / 26 / 21 mpg
Size: 3.0L supercharged V-6
Horsepower: 300 hp @ 5100 rpm
Torque: 310 lb-ft @ 2500-5100 rpm
Curb weight: 4123 lb
Wheels/tires: 19-inch aluminum wheels
255/35R19 Pirelli Sottozero winter tires