By Ming Tan
- Great balance – the car did everything well, from managing a mundane highway commute to ripping along a spirited windy road.
- Styling – you can’t miss the profile of an Audi on the road, and as the first brand to embrace LED lighting technology, the car has a trademark stare. It’s sinister seeing the lights come towards you at dusk.
- The 3.0 liter supercharged V6 – Audi’s awarding winning engine building skills have paid off again with the supercharged 310hp V6. It’s lively, smooth, and efficient with plenty of get up oomph to hustle down the road, especially considering the size of the car. The 325 ft-lbs of torque are easily accessible at a very reasonable range from 2900 to 4500 RPM.
- Tire noise – The 19-inch sport package wheel and Pirelli P Zero tire combination proved to be a bit on the noisy side. Depending on road surfaces, the degree of annoyance varied.
- Somewhat flat seating surfaces – the A6 Sport Package does not come with more aggressively bolstered S-Line seats that come with some other Audi Sport Packages.
Admittedly, I’ve always been an Audi guy. Over the years we’ve owned seven Audis, ranging from the fun to drive yet practical A3 to the vaunted RS4 muscle car. I’ve loved them all. I’ve loved them for their overall feel, comfort, sportiness, heritage, and emotion. And for a period, years ago, they weren’t everywhere on the road.
The A6 came as a surprise to me. Originally I was slated to hop into an SUV for my test week, but I wasn’t going to complain. I love cars, from stock econoboxes to sports cars, to lifted trucks and SUV’s. The A6 sits perfectly in the middle: roomy enough for a few passengers, cargo from Costco, and a slab of granite for the deck (all during the same afternoon trip no less); peppy enough to stimulate the need to drive briskly; efficient enough not to need a $4 per gallon fill up every other day; and serene enough to sooth the senses after a long day at the office. In short, the car did everything I asked it to do, and it did them well.
Entering the A6 and closing the door felt very familiar. The heavy door hinge feel accentuates each detent, helping to give the doors a very solid feel. I stepped on the brake pedal, hit the start stop button, and the supercharged V6 came to life. The engine has a great low rumble which is just loud enough to detect. It isn’t overbearing in the cabin, yet it provides great feedback on the road.
The supercharged 3.0 liter V6 is perfect for this car. Rated at 310hp, it performed flawlessly in virtually any situation, whether it was fast highway driving, where passing speed was needed, or attacking the twisties, where you’re constantly on and off the gas and brake. The combination of good power and plenty of torque makes for a responsive car that performs well in any normal driving condition.
The A6 comes with an 8-speed Tiptronic transmission. Audi says this unit is six percent more efficient than a standard 6-speed automatic. Impressively, highway cruising engine speeds are less than 2000 RPM. No wonder the car is so quiet and efficient under normal driving conditions. As with most other transmissions on the market, Audi also specs paddle shifters and a “manual” shifting option with the A6.
The 2012 A6 also has the exclusive Drive Select feature, which allows the driver to choose the throttle response, shift speed, and steering feel of the car. You can choose from Comfort, Auto, Dynamic, or Individual. Toggling between these settings is a multi-step process through the onboard computer. For long, sedate road trips down the I-5, Comfort keeps everything quiet and efficient. Step up to Dynamic and things get more interesting. Shifts are a tad quicker, as is the throttle response. It’s not a huge change, but enough to enliven the feel of the car.