Fun Inside and Out
Steve Schaefer, Sun, 20 May 2007 08:00:00 PDT
The Audi A6 is an aspirational car. It combines beauty, performance, and distinction for the lucky folks who can afford the price of admission. It offers features not seen on everyday vehicles.
As part of the Volkswagen family, Audi specializes in all-wheel-drive sedans and wagons (Avants in Audi-speak). You can also find the engaging little TT two-seat coupe and convertible, and a new SUV is on its way. As part of an overall Audi redesign, the A6 received the new corporate nose last year, with its enormous vertical grille. Sales of Audis are up, so the public must like it.
A6s come with either a 3.2-liter V6 or a 4.2-liter V8 engine. My Oyster Gray Metallic test car had the former, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic. That means you can shift gears sequentially, without a clutch, or the system will do it for you. Power is immediate and prodigious, which makes you wonder if you really need the V8. The V6 delivers 255 horsepower, while the V8 produces 335, making it a real family rocket. The V6 is rated at 19 City, 16 Highway-I earned 20.1 overall.
With multi-link suspensions front and rear tuned to perfection, the A6 flies along like a magic carpet, although you do feel the road through the 18-inch, low-profile tires. Quattro permanent all-wheel drive is an Audi specialty for 25 years now, and gives the A6 a real advantage on any kind of road. I was lucky enough to get fair weather for my week of testing, but Quattro can be a wintertime lifesaver.
It would be bliss to just sit in an A6 and listen to the Bose Premium Sound System, without even going anywhere. Sadly, the six-disc CD changer occupies much of the glovebox. This makes for a bit of a reach and tight storage opportunities, but it does leave room on the console for the seven-inch color screen of the Multi-Media Interface (MMI). The MMI controls many of the car's settings and features, using four rectangular buttons in stacked pairs with a circular button between them. You use the four rectangles to pick categories and the center button to select and OK them. This design theme also appears in the heating controls in a smaller scale. After you adapt to using the system, it's not difficult to get what you need.
The front seats have 12-way power adjustment, and automatic dual zone climate control keeps everybody happy. Wood inlays are standard. Mine were stained in Gray Birch, which lacks the heartiness of golden oak, but combined well with the "Amaretto" interior of my tester.
My car featured something called Adaptive Cruise Control. This emerging technology uses a type of radar to keep tabs on the car in front of you. You can set a specific minimum distance, for example, three car lengths, and if you approach a slower car, your A6 slows down automatically, and then accelerates up to your preset speed as space opens up. It's a little eerie, but it works great.
My car came with Sirius satellite radio. The smaller of the two satellite broadcasters, Sirius offers a wide range of different types of music and talk. The sound is sharp and CD-quality, but occasional signal drop-outs continue to plague all satellite radio broadcasts. The display tends to cut off the names of songs and artists, leaving titles like "Down on the Corn," and "Time of the Seas" and performers like Doobie Broth and Engelbert Humper.
My tester had two-way vanity mirrors-one with magnification-so you can proceed with your facial care as you sit in the A6. Hopefully drivers will restrain themselves while the vehicle is in motion.
I enjoyed the high-tech Advanced Key feature. Audi keys have long been little switchblades that pop out of a black fob with lock buttons. With Advanced Key, you can keep the key in your pocket all the time. When you approach the car, the doors and trunk automatically unlock. Sit down, buckle up, and push the Engine Start button to get moving. An Engine Stop button is ready for when your trip ends.
You can buy an A6 for as little as $44,960, but my car was loaded with extras. It had the Technology, S-Line, Premium, and Sunroof packages, as well as premium leather upholstery, front sport seats, and the Adaptive Cruise Control. The Technology package adds Rear Parktronic, which warns you if anything is behind the car while you're in reverse, along with the Audi Navigation system and Sirius Radio. The S-Line package gives you the 18-inch wheels and tires, a sport suspension, gray wood trim, headlight washers, and S-Line bumpers and badges. The Premium package throws in things like the Bose Premium Sound, automatic dimming of all mirrors, and driver's seat and mirror memory.
By the time you add in all the options, the price of my tester stretched to $58,999, including a $720 destination charge. That's some serious cash, but this is one serious luxury performance sedan.