The A6 is the volume model in Audi's mid-size luxury sedan range, which also includes the performance-focused S6. Now in its fourth generation, the A6 provides an appealing blend of luxury, technology and responsive handling dynamics.
For the latest model year, the A6 benefits from new engines, a slightly redesigned front end and more standard equipment.
Outside, the A6 looks much like a downsized version of Audi's full-size A8 sedan, with a similarly large corporate grille flanked by narrow headlights. The A6 features a large greenhouse, which helps outward visibility, as well as a more formal roofline than the mechanically identical but more arrestingly styled A7 hatchback.
The A6 includes a paneled underfloor to direct airflow beneath the vehicle, resulting in a very low 0.26 Cd despite an upright front fascia designed to meet European pedestrian safety standards. The latest A6 is also about 100 pounds lighter than its predecessor, thanks in part to more extensive use of aluminum components.
As per Audi tradition, the A6 features a well-finished cabin complete with real metal trim and substantial use of aching beautiful matte-finish wood inlays in certain models. A wrap-around dashboard is canted toward the driver, and the latest generation of Audi's intuitive MMI system (think iDrive) is fitted as standard.
A highlight from the list of tech options is Audi Connect, which brings brings in-car internet connectivity and industry-first Google Earth integration - complete with panoramic views and high-resolution 3D satellite and aerial imagery.
Entry-level Audi A6 models are powered by Volkswagen Group's ubiquitous 2.0-liter direct-injected TFSI turbo four, which makes 252 horsepower between 5,000 and 6,000 rpm and 273 lb-ft of torque from 1,600 to 4,000 rpm in this application. The engine sends power to the front wheels through a seven-speed S-tronic transmission, though selecting the optional quattro all-wheel drive system also brings an eight-speed automatic.
The base A6 reaches 60 mph from a stop in 6.7 seconds and it goes on to a top speed of 130 mph. Gas mileage checks in at 24 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway.
The next engine up is a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 that pumps out 333 horsepower between 5,500 and 6,500 rpm and a healthy 325 lb-ft. of torque from 2,900 to 5,300 rpm. It comes only with quattro and the eight-speed automatic, and it carries a 20/30 mpg rating.
Those looking to maximize mpgs can opt for a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6, which is good for 248 horsepower, a stout 428 lb-ft of torque and a econobox-like 25/38 mpg.
Trim Level Breakdown
The A6 is offered in six different flavors: the A6 Premium 2.0 TFSI, the A6 Premium Plus 2.0 TFSI, the A6 Premium 3.0 TFSI, the A6 Premium Plus 3.0 TDI, the A6 Prestige 3.0 TFSI and the A6 Prestige 3.0 TDI.
As suggested by its name, the A6 Premium 2.0 is fitted with the 2.0-liter turbo four. It comes standard with an electromechanical parking brake, xenon plus headlights, LED daytime running lights, LED tail lamps, power-adjustable, auto-dimming, heated door mirrors with a memory function, heated windshield washer nozzles, three-zone A/C, a three-spoke multi-function steering wheel, a manually-adjustable steering column, a sunroof, power windows with a one-touch up function, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, leather upholstery, heated front seats, eight-way power front seats with a memory function, cruise control, Bluetooth connectivity, a HomeLink garage opener, a five-inch driver information system, rain-sensing wipers and automatic headlights.
To those features, the A6 2.0 Premium Plus adds a power-adjustable steering column, voice-activated navigation system with a 40-GB hard drive, Audi MMI touch handwriting recognition (which interprets handwritten inputs), a seven-inch driver information screen, Audi connect (which turns the A6 into a mobile WiFi hotspot), keyless entry, parking sensors on both ends and a rear-view camera. Stepping up to the Premium Plus trim also adds Audi side assist - which monitors the blind spot areas and fast-approaching vehicles - as well as Audi pre sense rear, which helps mitigates the consequences of a rear-end collision by closing the windows and sunroof, tightening safety belts and applying partial braking power.
The A6 3.0 TFSI Premium Plus and 3.0 TDI Premium Plus mirror the features of the 2.0-liter model but add a more powerful engine.
The range-topping Prestige trim builds on the features of the Premium Plus with a power-operated trunk lid, perforated leather upholstery, ventilated and twelve-way power front seats, 630-watt Bose sound system, a heads-up display, a four-zone automatic climate control, LED ambient lighting, rear sunshades and full LED headlights.
A6 buyers can deck their cars out with a plethora of cosseting optional features and packages. The list of standalone options includes several different alloy wheel designs, paint colors and rear side airbags. Additionally, many of the features that come standard on the Prestige trim can be added to Premium Plus models at an extra cost, including the Bose surround sound system and the LED headlights.
The Cold Weather Package includes heated rear seats as well as a heated steering wheel. Buyers who live in a hot climate can order the Warm Weather Package, which adds four-zone A/C and manual sunshades.
Offered only on the Premium trim, the Technology Package brings MMI Touch, parking sensors on both ends, Audi connect, HD Radio, a color driver information system and a rear-view camera.
The S-line Sport Package bundles a sport suspension, S line bumpers on both ends and 19-inch alloys wrapped by all-weather tires.
The Driver Assistance Package includes a top and corner view camera system, adaptive cruise control with a stop and go function, active lane assist, high-beam assist, and Audi's pre-sense plus technology.
A6s equipped with a six-cylinder engine can be ordered with a Black Optic Package, which brings black trim around the grille and 19-inch 10-spoke wheels.
Prestige models can be ordered with a 20-inch Black Optic Package that builds on the 19-inch package with 20-inch alloys and body-colored door mirrors. Finally, they can be spec'd with night vision assist and a Bang & Olufsen Advanced Sound System.
All A6 models come equipped with dual front airbags, driver and passenger head airbags, "Sideguard" head curtain airbags for both rows of seats, driver and front passenger knee air bags and side thorax airbags. Rear-passenger thorax side airbags are optional.
Other standard safety features include traction and stability control systems, ABS with electronic brake-pressure distribution and a tire-monitoring system.
The Audi A6's main rivals include the traditional, luxurious Mercedes-Benz E-Class, the distinctive and sporty Jaguar XF as well as the BMW 5-Series, which courts enthusiasts with a class-exclusive manual transmission option. The Infiniti Q70 and the Lexus GS.