By Lou Ann Hammond, Sun, 28 Mar 2004 08:00:00 PDT
Milano, Italy - To most Americans the Audi A6 is just another car in the new line of luxury vehicles. To the rest of the world the A6 has a history, a heritage onto itself.
In 1965 a modified version of the DKW F102 was created. The internal code for the car went from "C1-C5". The "C" car designation changed to Audi 100 and then to the A6 in 1999. The Audi A6 was introduced in September 1999, and was the first luxury brand sedan produced in China. According to Doug Clark, Director of PR for Audi of America, the modified version of the Audi A6 (then the Audi 100) started as a government car. Today sales are still strongest in Europe for the A6, but second is China, then the U.S.
Audi is making great strides in taking the A6 sedan from a tier two German luxury brand to a tier one benchmark in luxury performance in the U.S. Following in the footsteps of its big brother, the Audi A8, the Audi A6 is offering all new engines, higher performance and new exterior lines and shape.
The top-of-the-line model still sports a 4.2-liter V8, but this time around it cranks out 330 horsepower and 304 pound-feet of torque. Midrange models are powered by a direct-injection 3.2-liter V6 that eases out 255 horsepower while the base model uses a new 2.4-liter V6 that offers 175 horsepower. Six-speed manual and six-speed automatic transmissions are offered along with a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) that includes an extra step when placed in manual-shift mode. Quattro all-wheel drive is standard with the V8, optional with the otherwise front-wheel-drive V6 models.
The new A6 makes an impact on a visual level, building on its stylistic heritage. The A6 is built on the same platform as the Audi A4, and the Volkswagen Passat. The A6 engine is linked to an assortment of high-performance transmissions and drivetrains creating dynamic driving and responsive agility, all wrapped in elegantly shaped sheetmetal designed by Achim Badstubner.
The A6's interior shines with a modern cutting-edge design. The instrument panel is high and wide crossing over the center of the dashboard, allowing the passenger to feel like they are in the cockpit, and still giving the driver full control. The A6 comes standard with a Multi Media Interface (MMI) control system, similar to the A8, integrated into the center console. Unlike the BMW 7-Series i-drive, the MMI is intuitive to use. We dubbed the audio voice for the GPS navigation system "Frau Blucher" in honor of Cloris Leachman's 1974 "Young Frankenstein" performance. Frau Blucher directed us well, and redirected us when we didn't do as told. I would have preferred she told us to turn around or that she was redirecting us, but hey, she didn't throw us in the dungeon for disobeying.
The problem with the A6 is that there is no problem. It's a well-built machine that runs smoothly, quietly and efficiently. If it were a person, I would hire it.
Whether you're speeding down the Autobahn, cruisin' the Great Wall of China or on the road again from sea to shining sea, the spacious new interior and more powerful engines of the Audi A6 has what it takes.