Frank S. Washington, Mon, 26 Mar 2012 11:00:22 PDT
DETROIT - Audi's 2012 A6 sedan was like a wolf in sheep's clothing.
Its single frame grille and LED headlights as well as LED running lights presented a distinctive frontal view. But though it had clean and contemporary lines, from the side the A6 looked fairly conservative. However from the driver's seat, the new A6 felt like an athletic sport sedan.
Under the hood was a 3.0-liter direct fuel injected supercharged V6 engine that made 310 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque. It was mated to an eight speed automatic transmission. Audi is beginning to emphasize its blower assisted engines that increase horsepower while saving fuel.
I traveled from here to Chicago, returned and did some driving in both cities. My point is that I filled the tank once on the way back, racked up 689 miles and still had a quarter of a tank of fuel left when the car was picked up.
That's not bad for a sedan that gets from zero to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds and has a top speed that is electronically limited to 130 mph. One of my quibbles is that 130 mph electronic limitation; it's the same as the smaller Audi A4. For the extra dollars, Audi should at least raise the limit to 140 mph. It would serve as another reason for the extra bucks and it reads better.
Anyway, my test vehicle had quattro and in this case the all-wheel-drive system featured a 40-60 split of the torque between the front and rear wheels. What's more, because of the extensive use of aluminum in the suspension and body panels, the 2012 Audi A6 weighed 78 lbs. less than the car it replaced.
What I'm trying to say is because of that supercharged engine acceleration was assertive and instant. And because of its all-wheel-drive system, the Audi A6 responded to my steering wheel input with laser like accuracy.
Audi is just getting better all over. While the exterior of its vehicles now feature the single frame grille and LED running lights, the interiors of the vehicles I have test driven, the A7, Q5, A4 and now the A6, all had substance, sophistication and that intangible quality of class that's needed to convey luxury.
Overall the interior of my test vehicle was almost luscious. Audi called the color Nougat brown (it looked like milk chocolate to me). The wood veneer was so textured I could literally feel the grain in the walnut. Coupled with the "Aviator" blue of the exterior, my test car was distinctive inside and out.
The 2012 A6 had what Audi called a "wraparound skyline... cockpit." Even though it was a horizontal design which made the car look wider the instruments centered on me, the driver. The heated and cooled seats were easy chair comfortable and Audi inserted some tangible features that just made sense.
For instance, the control screen slid out of the dash board every time I started the car but I could retract it back into the dash where it stayed, even when I started the car, unless I released it manually. In other words, I didn't have to look at a blank screen if I wanted to turn it off.
The blind spot alert was on the inside housing of the side view mirrors, not in the side view mirrors themselves. That meant I didn't have to use as much of my peripheral vision to see the amber blind side alert lights.
A Google based navigation system means you see an aerial map. In other words, I could see the actual streets, my house, my driveway and sidewalk, my neighbors' houses and the trees in my backyard on the navigation screen. I don't know that's its better but it was different and interesting.
The multifaceted media interface (MMI) turned my test vehicle into a WiFi hot spot that could serve eight devices. It could do more but I won't get into it here.
And I think securing Bang & Olufsen as its premium audio system was a bit of a coup for Audi. According to the Denmark based company's Web site, it supplies only three other luxury automakers with its audio systems.
A 15 speaker 1,300 watt elite audio system indirectly leads me to my other quibble with the A6 - it's rear windows do not let all the way down. Like a lot of sedans the rear window retracts only about 75 percent of the pane because of the door design.
Simply put, as I was driving back here and saw that rear window sticking up out of the corner of my eye it reminded me of a lot of compact sedans that cost a lot less than the Audi A6. As a luxury manufacturer nothing should remind an owner of a far lesser priced vehicle.
I trust Audi will, or has, its design engineers working on the rear side window challenge right now. Still, as an owner, you'll be in the front seat of your Audi A6. Thus, that rear window really won't affect you.
Audi's 2012 A6 3.0 TFSI prices start at $49,900. With its many options, my test car was $67,430.