2012 Audi A6 3.0 HD Video Review

People expect certain things from an Audi.  A terrific interior.  A large trapezoidal grille. Those fashion forward LED running lights the brand pioneered.  Then there’s the distinctive silhouette. Audis look like Audis in the same way it’s easy to peg a Frank Lloyd Wright home.  They just have that look.

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So there’s no doubt who makes the new 2012 A6 sedan even if you missed the four interlocking rings on the familiar face (they stand for the four companies that became one).  Obviously the folks at Audi are sticking with a good thing, the design is very evolutionary.  More on that later.

If you’re thinking about buying one of these, congratulations, you’re doing pretty well in a down economy.  The main competition is the Mercedes E Class and BMW 5-Series though you can also include the Infiniti M lineup, and the upcoming Lexus GS. Prices start at $42,575, my tester is a Premium Plus 3.0 TFSI model that stickers for $57,470.

Choose Your Motivation

A6 gets two engine choices.  The 2.0-liter 211 horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder is for the fuel economy fans.  Audi crows a best-in-class EPA rating of 24 mpg city, 33 highway. It’s paired to a CVT transmission and is front-drive.  No quattro all-wheel drive here.

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I am driving the 3.0-liter V6 which is the clear choice for enthusiasts.  As the fender badge advertises, it’s supercharged and pumps out 311 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque @ 2,900–4,500 rpm (the four produces 258 lb-ft @ 3,250 rpm).  Opt for the two extra cylinders and Audi automatically installs quattro and an eight-speed automatic gearbox with manual shifting on the console and steering wheel paddles.  Gas mileage using premium fuel is 22 city, 28 highway.

Substantial Lightweight

The new A6 gets a longer wheelbase and shorter overhangs, the hot look these days. Using a hybrid construction of aluminum body panels with steel frame, A6 is 78 pounds lighter now (165-lbs for the four).  That, plus more power give this sedan a quicker 0-60 time of 5.3 (vs. 5.9 for the outgoing car).

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As expected, A6 is quiet and comfortable on the road, striking that desirable balance of sport and suppleness.  Driving dynamics can be adjusted if your mood or spouse dictates.  Audi Drive Select allows changes to the steering, transmission shift points and throttle response so everyone’s happy.

Normally, quattro runs its power bias 60 percent to the rear, 40 to the front. As road and weather conditions change so does the power routing.  It rained most days the A6 was in my keep.  Quattro shines when the sun doesn’t.

Modern Luxury

Audi meets demanding expectations inside the cabin.  Shapes, textures and materials define what a luxury car should be about these days.  Heated leather seats are very comfortable for long road trips.  Large tasteful planks of wood with metal edging are applied throughout.

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Graphics and animation on the gauge cluster screen and seven-inch LCD look sharp.  Bluetooth and iPod integration are now standard.  In this class I’d like to see a panoramic glass roof, the standard sized hole is small considering the competition.

The amount of tech installed will keep a gadget junkie busy for weeks.  The nav system uses photo-grade Google Earth graphics making journeys a very visual experience.   The screen mesmerizes passengers by gliding in and out of the instrument panel (or maybe it’s just who I hang with).  Voice activation is decent though it’s no Siri.

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A small pad near the transmission selector does double duty.  Generally the six numbers are for radio presets. Call up a menu item like the navi and it changes to a blank slate where numbers and letters can be inputted by writing with a fingertip.  It’s easy and accurate, each symbol gets audibly confirmed by the computer.  Blind spot warning is here too.

Of course it’s not an Audi without the MMI interface. It keeps improving, though like many of these luxury car systems it requires time to get comfortable with.  It’s frustrating that scrolling clockwise with the knob causes the radio presets on the screen to scroll up, not the expected downward direction.  Every passenger that tries it agrees with me.

Into Music?

There’s Sirius and HD radio tuners, a hard disc jukebox, and impressive DVD surround sound audio.  The standard 14-speaker, 630-watt Bose system will trounce most home systmes.  Not good enough?  Opt for the 1,300-watt Bang and Olufsen system with 15 speakers which undoubtedly can be turned up to 11.

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It’s possible to stuff an entire Best Buy full of electronics into this car, there’s optional radar-assisted cruise control with stop and go ability, heads up display and even night vision.  An available data plan will turn the A6 into a wi-fi hotspot so your friends and family can surf the web with computers and iPads.  That and the interior is probably better looking than your office.

For those into safety (and who isn’t) Audi’s “pre sense” system warns drivers if a collision is imminent and takes protective measures like pre-charging the brakes and tightening the seat belts.  It even monitors activity behind the car.

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The back seat is roomy for three skinny adults, quite tolerable for three normal ones.  Leg and foot room are generous, and there are many ways to get organized with storage and cupholders in the foldable center armrest and pockets in the seatbacks. Two 12v power ports are handy, there’s an optional four-zone climate system and heated seats in the rear (plus vented units up front).

The deck lid rises smoothly when the remote is hit, revealing a truck that’s finished off as well as many car interiors. That trim keeps the hinge arms from scrunching cargo but reduces volume a smidge. Spare tires are becoming rare, nice to see one on board.

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When it comes to cargo room the two-ply does not lie.  Six bundles of Kirkland brand bath tissue slip in with ease.  That’s an average score but there’s still extra room.  Seat releases in back make dropping the split rear seats easy to lug bigger stuff.

Lets Talk Design

Audi has mastered the art of subtlety, making more of a statement with a gentle curve than others do with an acre of chrome.  A6 gets classic Audi lines but is it maybe… too classic?  Car geeks will spot the difference between 2011 and 2012 cars but many people don’t see it as a new model according to my informal poll with folks on the street.  Those wanting more edge can move up to supermodel sister A7.  The svelte hatchback turns heads but it’s thousands of dollars more plus the rear seat has tighter headroom and one less seatbelt.  For some reason I remember higher road noise too.

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Complaining about design on this car though is like saying Van Gogh never really developed his painting style past all that swirly stuff.  A6 shines in its ability to subtly, yet thoroughly, pamper an owner while keeping things understated.  Nothing about this car is overdone.  Nothing’s underdone either.  It’s probably why their sales are skyrocketing, everything they make seems to hit the sweet spot.  That’s what happens when you give people what they want.

FULL GALLERY BELOW.  ALL STILL PHOTOS PROVIDED BY AUDI

7 Comments

  1. prins004 says:

    I find the rear similar to Kia’s cars. Must be because of Schreyer.

  2. Ted says:

    There’s a big improvement regarding the A6′s exterior styling: they have centered the engine a few inches backwards (just as they did on the A4), which allows shortening the disgraceful, enormous front overhang on the outgoing version whilst increasing the axis-to-dash ratio. This confers a more aristocratic RWD-like stance to the car and improves handling. It’s an issue I had discussed personally with former VW’s CEO, Bernd Pischetsrieder, a few months before he was fired, and he said I was right, that they needed to mimic BMW’s sleek proportions as much as a FWD architecture allows to, so you may eventually thank me for it ;)

  3. apollo says:

    i saw one the other day and had to squint because i was not sure it was the new one. tom is right, it does not look so different from the last a6 or even other audis. will say that it looks preeety good though it is kinda on the formal side with the styling. a audi should be sporty looking. great review as always tom voelk, why are you not really popluar? hmmmm, maybe you are and i don’t know it!

  4. motorstreet says:

    I like this car, I test drove one with my neighbor. He ended up buying a Volvo S60 T6 R-Desgin instead, but really liked the A6. It’s fast, very comfortable, fabulously built, and has tons of technology. I find the MMI very intuitive and has tons of useful features. This car is expensive, but it’s still a bargain compared to the 5-Series. The 310hp A6 3.0T Premium Plus my neighbor was looking at was $4000 less than a comparably equipped 240hp 528i xDrive. My neighbor and I also drove a M37x, the A6 was a much nicer car and was only about $1000 more. I really don’t like the A6 2.0T, because it has a terrible CVT and FWD, yet the more powerful BMW 528i get better fuel-economy (though it is thousands of dollars more). The A6 I really want to see is the TDI model they have been promising since 2004 and the upcoming 420hp S6.

  5. Ken says:

    I owned a bimmer before, now I drive an Audi, I think my next one will be an Audi too, but I will get an A5 conv or an A7, my ultimate Audi will be the R8 or the concept Quattro. They are just beautiful!!! Audi is more like someone who is confident but don’t screaming look at me at a bimmer or a MB.