Audi A6 weaves tech, power into luxurious sedan
BY JOHN STEIN Automotive Editor December 26, 2011 10:17PM
2012 AUDI A6
ENGINE: 310-horsepower 3.0-liter supercharged V-6
TRANSMISSION: eight-speed automatic
DRIVETRAIN: all-wheel drive
FUEL ECONOMY: 19 city/28 highway
BASE PRICE: $49,900
AS TESTED: $59,495
Updated: December 26, 2011 10:19PM
The 2012 Audi A6 delivers the driving characteristics that enthusiasts embrace while wowing most everyone else who enters the cabin and encounters the latest technology from the German automaker.
There are lots of reasons to love the Audi A6, the least of which is that is appears on virtually every Top 10 list for 2012’s best cars. I’d have to admit it easily is the most impressive 2012 model I’ve driven so far — but there are many vehicles that give the A6 a run for its money. Here’s to the competition!
Packing a huge array of impressive technologies, this stunning midsize sedan can be optioned to do things such as identify and track potential pedestrian road hazards in complete darkness, adjust speed in stop-and-go traffic, prevent overly aggressive driving maneuvers and apply emergency braking force before hitting a major obstacle.
And if that is not enough to make you wonder when cars started thinking for themselves, the well-connected A6 navigation system feeds information to the full LED headlight system so that the beams aim in the right direction when you enter a corner.
On the outside, the A6 presents the Audi elegance with minimal lines flowing gracefully from nose to tail. In an effort to swallow up the air needed to feed what hides beneath the hood, the bold grille seems to run from the nose all the way to the pavement while the signature headlamp assembly wraps the far edges in several distinct illuminating visual treatments.
Audi offers two power configurations: the 2.0-liter gas turbo (211 horsepower) paired to a continuously variable automatic transmission and the supercharged 3.0-liter (310 horsepower) V-6 quattro that gets the new eight-speed Tiptronic automatic.
I tested the V-6 quattro and the city/highway/combined mileage (19/28/22 mpg) was good enough for a sedan this size that delivers such performance. The supercharged 3.0-liter is an impressive powertrain. I found no lag to the power delivery and a real ability to make me smile over the simplest performance commands. At 3,600 pounds, the A6 feels even lighter when you put it through its maneuvers.
The less-than-perfect roads of our Chicago region can be a bit torturous for some drivers, but not the A6, which easily dampened every bump and imperfection on the pavement and delivered a quiet and comfortable environment.
The 2012 A6 adds 3 inches of wheelbase as well as a hybrid aluminum and high-strength steel body that imparts a significantly solid and smooth driving experience.
Once you enter the cabin, you cannot help noting the high-quality materials and ergonomics that have made Audi one of the premier brands in luxury vehicles. I love the real wood trim (that actually felt like wood).
Sightlines are excellent and the driver can easily see gauges and all the dash elements. A multimedia interface rotating wheel and buttons control functions. The latest generation of MMI features a touchpad that enables character recognition so users can spell words with the stroke of a fingertip. This provides a faster way to enter destinations into the nav system or search iPod music databases.
Providing true connectivity, the A6 manages to do some amazing things with the data it receives, like pre-aim the headlamps (around bends) and illuminate “junction” lights at intersections. The A6’s optional LED headlights not only react to steering wheel input — but aim light based on the nav system and streaming data.
The A6’s charging system uses incoming Nav data that alerts the alternator of upcoming downhill grades or areas where a driver might coast, enhancing battery recharging.
The incoming data enhances the experience of the A6’s sophisticated NAV system. Real-time data is woven into a layered display, which begins as a composite graphic with an animated map as Google Earth data is integrated as well as instructions and current traffic information for the top layer.
Still looking to be impressed? The incoming data stream powers a WLan hot spot that provides a WiFi signal for up to eight devices simultaneously.
The A6’s exterior is compelling, but the performance and technology inside are really the story behind this new Audi sedan. Add real night vision, full-color head-up display and dynamic safety features such as lane-keeping assist and the A6 is worth every penny of the $59,495 as-tested price.
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