The Oval Office, Facebook, the nightly news, your corner bar. No matter where you look these days, it’s hard to see the center, because the center doesn’t sell. The center isn’t sexy. The center doesn’t make for awesome headlines and instant-regret clicks. The center, as always, does nearly all the work, is applicable to more people than anything else, and is truly that which provides the most balance in life. But it doesn’t inspire envy, fear, passion, or hatred.
The 2019 Audi A6 is the center—which is to say once you peel away the marketing tripe and the spec-sheet hype, the A6 is the best pick among its peers for the most people. Why? Well, for almost every reason except brand reputation or Nürburgring times.
Walk up to the A6 and you might walk right past it, especially if it’s outfitted in a charcoal gray business suit, as ours was. It’s a finely tailored look, with taut, nicely sculpted sheetmetal, if you bother to focus on it. But on the whole, it’s rather unassuming, despite a smattering of chrome and standard 19-inch wheels. Open the door and slip inside, however, and it’s a whole other experience.
Unlike the cabins in today’s BMWs, which balance a strange preference for economical plastic against a desire to varnish everything, or the cabins of modern Mercedes-Benzes, which are akin to a business-class airport lounge crossed with an EDM club, the new A6’s innards are clean, smart, fresh, high-tech, and decidedly premium in look and feel throughout, not unlike an executive board room. In particular, the gaps between elements—both from panel to panel and on subfeatures within those panels—are phenomenal, seemingly so tight as to vanish. The fit is so good it feels like handwork, even if it certainly isn’t.
While a really, really nice cabin might not seem like a big deal—it’s no Nordschleife lap record, anyway—in reality, it’s the most critical part of owning any car, given how much time you’ll spend in it. Let’s be real, after all; traffic isn’t getting any better no matter where you live.
To that end, the A6 also has some excellent driver aids. They’re still definitely just that, aids to an attentive driver, but they can help fill the gaps between your morning coffee and your morning commute. The stop-and-go traffic-jam cruise control is particularly useful if you’re an urban highway warrior, managing to brake and accelerate in a largely organic fashion most of the time. It will also help keep you in your lane should you veer as you leer at the unfortunate soul without such aids who smashed into the center barrier. For those who regularly drive in even denser urban environs, the “pre-sense city” feature can see pedestrians and cyclists in the vehicle’s path and can help brake to avoid them at speeds up to 52 mph.
Interaction with most of the driver aids comes through the Virtual Cockpit instrument panel display, which presents a crisp and beautiful vision of the car’s current need-to-know info, with excellent visibility in nearly every lighting condition—markedly more so than many other new luxury vehicles’ screen-based instrument displays. Likewise, the dual-screen center-stack layout offers crisp graphics, no perceptible input lag, and easy interaction once you learn the particularities of Audi’s infotainment setup.
As for performance and handling: It does both just fine. That’s not a very detailed, intuition-laden assessment of the car’s dynamic envelope, which we’d be happy to provide if it weren’t mostly irrelevant. The 2019 A6 drives like it should, steers surprisingly nicely, and is quiet, comfy, and serene without feeling detached. Will it dominate an E-class or a 5 Series? No, probably not. But again, no one really cares, anyway.
No one should care, either, because the A6 is a phenomenal sedan for the luxury buyer with sensational taste, rather than a taste for the sensational. In fact, the only good argument against buying the A6 that we can formulate is Audi’s own A7. But that’s a whole other story.
2019 Audi A6 Specifications
|ENGINE||3.0L turbocharged DOHC 24-valve V-6; 335 hp @ 6,400 rpm, 369 lb-ft @ 1,370 rpm|
|TRANSMISSION||7-speed dual clutch automatic|
|LAYOUT||4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, AWD sedan|
|EPA MILEAGE||22/29 mpg (city/hwy)|
|L x W x H||194.4 x 74.3 x 57.4 in|
|0–60 MPH||5.1 sec (est)|
|TOP SPEED||130 mph|