2012 AUDI A6 REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Large luxury sedan
Price: $121,500 (plus on-roads), $149,710 as tested
Fuel Economy (claimed): 8.2 l/100km
Fuel Economy (tested): 10.9 l/100km
When it comes to large luxury sedans, Audi is locked in a do-or-die battle for supremacy with BMW and Mercedes Benz.
For Audi, Europe’s number one premium brand, it has eyes on nothing less than the top step of the podium here.
Last year, its A6 came in for an evolutionary styling upgrade. In the process, it also scored some of the lightweight aluminium technologies that are found in Audi’s flagship A8 saloon.
Inside and out, the thoughtful and thorough design touches show, resulting in a truly premium feel behind the wheel.
Quality: Running your hands across the interior surfaces brings a range of sensory delights. Leather abounds - it’s beautifully trimmed - plastics are high quality and real metal garnishes set off a premium space.
The electrically-folding MMI (multi-media interface) screen in the centre of the dash operates silently, and cleverly features a chrome finisher when opened or closed for a seamless appearance.
The cheap-feeling buttons of the MMI system however are curiously out-of-place in an otherwise smart-looking, quality centre console.
Comfort: Front and back, the well-shaped seats are cosseting and comfortable. In the rear there’s plenty of stretching space for outboard occupants and headroom is generous even under the swooping roofline.
Up front though is a real treat. The optional ‘Comfort Seat’ package comes with electric memory settings, heating and ventilation, and a four-function seat massage program.
At $8850, it’s a pricey option, but if arriving freshly massaged and with your derriere suitably heated or cooled is important to you, you can tick the box.
Equipment: Audi’s sportier S-line appearance package is fitted as standard to A6 V6 models.
It comes with electrically-adjustable front seats, leather trim, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and ignition, sunroof, Bluetooth phone and audio, dusk-sensing bi-Xenon headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, and Audi MMI controlling sat-nav, audio systems and telephony.
Optional equipment fitted to our tester included head-up display ($2950), metallic paint ($2280), LED headlamps with automatic high beam ($3350), Bang & Olufsen 1200W premium high-fidelity audio (an eye-watering $10,780) and the Comfort Seat package.
Storage: Boot space measures 530 litres. It’s incredibly long and wide, although height is a little limited. Folding the rear seats brings 995 litres of storage; there are also ample cabin storage spaces.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: Audi’s 3.0 litre supercharged V6 produces a middle-of-the-road 220kW of power. Like every good forced-induction engine though, a healthy 440Nm of torque from as low as 2900rpm provides powerful get-up-and-go in the mid-range.
Coupled to a seven-speed DSG, the A6 is deceptively smooth and swift, gear changes almost go unnoticed and rarely is it caught in the wrong gear. Selecting sports mode will see gears held into higher revs and faster kick-downs.
Despite a part-aluminium body, with 1815kg to haul about the A6 weighs more than its competitors.
However from behind the wheel you’d be hard-pressed to pick any disadvantage. From a standing start the A6 immediately gathers its skirts and sprints from 0-100 km/h in just 5.5 seconds.
Refinement: Things are certainly serene inside the A6. Wind and road noise is kept distantly at bay; there are minimal external intrusions to disturb a limousine-like on-road ambience.
The 3.0 litre supercharged V6 will occasionally make its presence felt. Quiet in normal operation, but when given a shove the note builds to a crisp and very appealing metallic wail.
Suspension: Audi’s ‘Drive Select’ dynamic handling system allows a choice from four settings (including gearbox settings).
In practice, varying between ‘comfort’ and ‘dynamic’ modes doesn’t seem to alter much in the way of comfort. The A6 simply feels plushly suspended most of the time.
Braking: As well as putting the A6 through its paces in our metered testing, we got a real-world, heart-stopping, collision-avoidance brake test after an errant Falcon pulled into our path.
We gladly report that the big A6 with four-wheel discs and ABS can pull up mighty fast.
ANCAP rating: 5-Stars
Safety features: Stability control, traction control, ABS, EBD, brake assist, eight airbags (dual front, front seat, rear seat and curtain) as well as the security of quattro all-wheel-drive.
Available additional equipment includes a night vision system, blind spot warning, adaptive cruise control and Audi pre-sense collision warning system.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years
Service costs: Service intervals are set for every 15,000km/12 months. Costs may vary, so consult your local Audi dealer before purchase.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Lexus GS 350 Sports Luxury ($109,900) - Until the high-powered hybrid GS450 model arrives in Australia, the GS350 is the closest thing to Audi’s saloon.
Power output is higher and torque output isn’t too far behind, but you’ll need to pedal the Lexus harder to utilise them.
The high-quality interior of the GS lacks the visual panache of the Audi and, in this company, a six-speed automatic seems a stop-gap solution. (see GS reviews)
Mercedes-Benz E350 CGI Avantgarde ($132,635) - Among its fresher peers the E-Class is the least visually-impressive member of the executive fleet. On the road however it is superbly comfortable and dynamically capable.
Passengers will also enjoy the comfort and quietness on board, not to mention the ease of entry through the high-roofed, squared off rear door apertures. (see E-Class reviews)
BMW 535i ($115,600) - As the only other forced-induction car here, the 535i goes toe-to-toe with the A6 and takes the crown. Well, at least in the dynamic contest.
With sublime handling and excellent steering balance the 5 Series is the drivers’ choice. Pressed into commuting duty, the 5 comes with enough bells and whistles, as well as passenger room, to challenge the A6. (see 5 series reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Based on a hypothesis that most of your time will be spent trapped in traffic not moving far nor fast, then the beautifully crafted interior of the A6 would make it a hands-down winner.
Fit the massaging comfort seats of our tester and it becomes all the more compelling.
As a driver’s car though, the A6 TFSI still has a way to go to catch the benchmark BMW 535i. It is also now being tackled in the style stakes by Jaguar’s XF, and challenged on value by the Lexus GS 350.
For the buyer, the choice will come down to margins and matters of personal preference. At the end of the day however, Audi’s A6 TFSI is an accomplished, comfortable and swift premium saloon - and one to have on your short-list.
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