2012 Audi A6 3.0 QuattroPosted on March 16th, 2012
Sport sedan with the versatility for active lifestyles
By Nina RussinOn the surface, the Audi A6 appears to be a fairly conservative car. Its exterior isn’t as edgy as the A7, nor does it have the race-inspired roar of the R8.
A few minutes behind the wheel are all it takes to dispense with those preconceptions. Audi’s midsized sport sedan is a remarkable piece of work: as fast as it is fuel efficient, with an interior versatile enough for athletes. The trunk is cavernous. While sedans are rarely bicycle friendly, the A6 is. Designers added tie-down loops on the cargo floor to make securing large items easier.
A three-liter supercharged V6 engine accelerates from zero-to-sixty miles-per-hour in 5.3 seconds. But thanks to direct injection technology and an eight-speed automatic transmission, the A6 averages 28 miles-per-gallon on the highway. Average fuel economy for my 100-mile test drive was 25 mpg, three miles-per-gallon better than the EPA estimate.
Available Audi Connect turns the sedan into a mobile hotspot, with Google Earth, Google Maps and Google search. If there’s an endurance athlete on the planet who isn’t addicted to some version of Google mapping, I haven’t met him. The system also provides instant access to news, traffic alerts, and road construction updates.
Base price for the A6 is $49,900, excluding the $875 destination charge. A premium option package on the test car adds the Audi Connect, navigation, 18-inch wheels, four-zone automatic climate control, Bose surround-sound audio system, front seat ventilators, xenon headlamps with LED daytime running lamps and the S-line exterior ($6880).
A sport package upgrades the wheels to 19-inch rims, adds a three spoke steering wheel with formula-style shift paddles and sport suspension ($1500). Two additional options, LED headlamps ($1400) and blind spot monitoring ($500) bring the price as tested to $61,530.
Aluminum body and suspension components minimize weight
When engineers redesigned the A6 for the 2012 model year, they increased the use of lightweight construction materials to shave weight off the chassis. The sedan’s 4045-pound curb weight is down 78 pounds from the outgoing model. Aluminum suspension components reduce unsprung weight for better steering response. Front-to-rear weight distribution is 55/45: as good as it gets.
Test drive in PhoenixDuring my week behind the wheel, I drove the new A6 on a variety of surface streets in metropolitan Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe as well as highways through the east valley. At this time of year, traffic in the area swells to several times the volume of the hot weather months, making getting around town at any time of day a challenge.
The available blind spot monitoring illuminates LED signals in the outside mirrors when vehicles pass through blind spots in the adjacent lanes. It’s a great feature for drivers who commute through thick traffic. My only complaint about the Audi system is that the LEDs stay illuminated longer than they need to. Several times, I found that I was able to safely change lanes, despite the fact that the LEDs were illuminated.
The sedan has very thick B pillars, which doesn’t affect visibility to the left, but does so noticeably to the right. Aside from that, visibility around the perimeter is quite good. The rearview camera display includes a graphic of the car, with obstacles around the perimeter highlighted in red. There are also audible obstacle alerts, which can be quite helpful when backing out of vertical parking slots.
The supercharged engine develops peak torque, 325 foot-pounds, at speeds as low as 2900 rpm. It accounts for the car’s exceptional performance off the line, and in the 20-to-50 mile-per-hour range drivers use merging onto the highway. The engine has a relatively high compression ratio, so the manufacturer requires the use of premium unleaded gasoline.
Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive system automatically delivers engine power to the wheels with the best traction. It makes the A6 an all-season car capable of maintaining directional stability on wet and snow-covered roads. The eight-speed automatic transmission keeps engine speeds remarkably low during low-load situations such as idle and steady-state cruising. Driving at 60 miles-per-hour, I was surprised to find the engine revving at a mere 1100 rpm.
Large ventilated disc brakes provide exceptional stopping power on wet or dry roads.
Upscale interiorThe A6 interior is as elegant as it is versatile, with standard leather seating, a four-spoke steering wheel with redundant infotainment controls, satellite radio, power sunroof and three-zone climate control. Designers minimized clutter in the center stack with a mouse device which the driver uses to switch between audio, navigation, telephone and information screens, and to make selections within each category. At the same time, simple controls such as temperature and audio volume are stand-alone controls.
Both front seats have ample lower lumbar support for long drives. I found the rear outboard seats to have plenty of head, hip and legroom. The car’s tall floor tunnel and the location of the center console bin limit legroom in the middle. Vents behind the center console and in the B pillars circulate air in the back of the cabin.
There are ample cup and bottle holders throughout the car, all of which are large enough for 20-ounce water bottles. Cupholders have long been a source of contention among German OEMs, who don’t like the idea of drivers engaging in any distracting activity. While I agree with the premise, carrying fluids is a must during hot summer months in the Southwest. Having storage areas in the car makes it more appealing to buyers in hot weather climates.
The standard sunroof brings plenty of sunlight into the car during the day, while overhead reading lamps over both rows of seating illuminate the interior at night. Both the gauge cluster and center stack screen are easy to read in a variety of lighting conditions.
The rear seats fold flat using either levers on the seatbacks or release straps near the trunk opening. It is not necessary to remove the headrests or the seat cushions to fold the seats completely flat. While the cargo area isn’t as tall as it would be in a cross-utility vehicle, there is plenty of room to stash a road bike with the front tire removed.
The Audi A6 comes with front, side and side curtain airbags, antilock brakes, traction and electronic stability control.
Audi’s factory warranty includes no charge for the first scheduled maintenance and four years of roadside assistance.
Likes: A fast, fuel efficient, versatile sport sedan which is extremely safe. The exceptionally large trunk is capable of holding a road bike.
Dislike: Optional blind spot monitoring system keeps the LEDs illuminated longer than they need to be, preventing the driver from being able to change lanes as easily in dense traffic.
Model: A6 3.0 TFSI quattro Tiptronic sedan
Base price: $49,900
As tested: $61,530
Horsepower: 310 Hp @ 5500 rpm
Torque: 325 lbs.-ft. @ 2900 rpm
Zero-to-sixty: 5.3 seconds
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Fuel economy: 19/28 mpg city/highway
Comment: The manufacturer requires the use of 91 octane unleaded gasoline.
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