It's important to look good -- especially when you're a car. And no doubt, Audis are always stylishly dressed in pretty coats. Their dignified Bauhaus themes of clean lines and surfaces, underlined by leather-lined interiors and peppy powertrains, have won the German brand legions of admirers. But, is that enough for the A6 in one of the most fearsome segments in all of autodom?
Styling fits neatly between the smaller A4 and larger A8, looking both athletic and substantial. There's nothing frivolous about it (well, except for the aggressive ground affects). Sure, there's a big grille flanked by LED headlamps, but the arching roofline and high beltline -- planted over 19-inch wheels -- give the car an elegant bunker feel that couldn't be moved by three Panzer tanks. Every crease is neatly stamped. It looks especially pleasing dressed out in S-Line sport trim.
Slip into the interior. Our car's brown leather extended to the door trim and dark brown walnut wood inlays. Looking at console covers, the wood isn't especially convincing. It doesn't feel real. Fortunately, the Bose audio system, heated/cooled front seats, heated rear seats, and heated power-adjusting steering wheel are. Rear passengers could use a little more legroom, but they won't suffer. Three-zone automatic climate control, elegant LED cabin lighting, and power open/close trunklid are also swell.
And, the car is loaded with technology. Audi's MMI infotainment system combines a console-mounted joywheel and buttons with dash screen to control audio, navigation, and climate. AT&T 4G LTE Wi-Fi, USBs, and Bluetooth keep everybody connected no matter where they travel. A head-up display keeps drivers looking straight ahead. Dynamic protection comes from very aggressive Active Lane Assist to keep the car between lines, adaptive cruise with stop & go to maintain a safe distance and creep through traffic, and a rear/top view camera to keep those pretty fenders unmarked.
No Panzer would ever catch the A6. Our car came with the 3.0-liter supercharged V6 engine that delivers 333 horsepower, 325 lb.-ft. of torque, and with auto start/stop, 20/30-MPG city/hwy. Step full into the throttle to spring from 0-60 mph in 5.1 seconds on the way to a 130 mph top speed. Quattro all-wheel-drive is as good at clawing tarmac as snowy backroads.
Typical of Audi, the A6's chassis and steering are the right blend of comfort and sport. It's a car that will soak up potholes, but rides smoothly at almost any speed. It gives the confidence to find open highway and run it out for hours on end (of course, keeping it legal). Miles just melt away.
The A6 is a pretty fancy suit with substance to match. But, it competes against some of the world's best cars - cars like the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, BMW 5-Series, Cadillac CTS, and Lexus GS. In that company, one expects real wood, a roomier back seat, and more distinguished styling. As did competitors, Audi must find a way to evolve while still being Audi. Do that, and the A6 will be spectacular.
A base price of $46,200 -- $68,875 as tested -- keeps it competitive.
View Casey's video of the A6; follow him on YouTube and Twitter: @AutoCasey.
2016 Audi A6 3.0T Quattro
Five-passenger, AWD sedan
- Powertrain: 333hp 3.0-liter SCV6, 8-spd auto trans
- Wheels f/r: 19"/19" alloy
- Brakes f/r: disc/disc
- 0-60 mph: 5.1s
- Top speed: 130 mph
- Fuel economy: 20/30 mpg city/hwy
- Assembly: Neckarsulm, Germany
- Must-have features: Grace, pace
- Base/as-tested price: $46,200/68,875