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MAYNARD'S GARAGE- Big Easy: Audi A6 Is Larger and Still Forceful With Downsized Engine Choices PDF Print E-mail
Written by MARK MAYNARD, Creative Syndicate   
Thursday, 17 November 2011 04:49

Audi didn't follow the leader when updating its Audi A6 sedan. It cornered the BMW 5- series and Mercedes-Benz Eclass and then redefined the segment.

With a half an inch here and there in the dimensions, new and tighter tolerances in assembly and clean styling, the 2012 A6 graduates to the Tier 1 league of aspirational sedans.

And it brings its own temptations and considerable fuel economy with a redefinition of power.

Last year, the A6 was sold in two V-6 and two V-8 models in front — and Quattro all-wheel drive. Powertrain options for the 2012 A6 are a front-drive 211-hp; turbocharged 2.0-liter four cylinder with continuously variable automatic; and a 310- hp, supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 with eight-speed Tiptronic. Fuel economy for the 2.0T is 24 mpg city and 33 highway. The 3.0T is rated 19 city, 28 highway. Both engines require premium fuel.

The 3.0T Quattro Prestige test car had a starting price of $50,775 and was $61,530 as tested. The starting prices are about $5,000 less than a comparable 5-series and $3,000 less than the E-class.

Twenty percent of the A6 is made of aluminum, including the body panels and suspension. Its curb weight is 66 pounds slighter than last year's car.

The A6 is completely contemporary, with a strong stance and styling that makes a fast statement. European sedans can be harsh in tone inside, but the A6 is relaxed with clean styling and pleasing textures and tones. Materials and assembly are impeccable.

And if that isn't enough, a tank of gas can stretch more than 550 miles. I drove the car for a week, including a run from San Diego to Los Angeles and back, and I still had a third of a tank of fuel remaining. That's an ideal range for the commuter with a 120-mile daily commute.

This is an easy sedan to live with. Sightlines are unhindered. Entry and exit is gracious, and the wide opening doors have grab handles at the ideal leverage points.

The center console still has a gear-shift lever, not an electronic knob. But Audi also places other frequently used features on the console. Within easy reach are such controls as the ignition button and an electronic scratch pad for various system inputs, including phone dialing. With eyes on the road, the driver can draw phone number digits one at a time while the system perceptively translates the scribble. It seemed quite good at reading my sloppy writing.

The cooled and heated front seats are supportive and bolstered without being restrictive. Both seats are eight-way adjustable with four-way lumbar adjustment for the driver. There are 37.4 inches of backseat legroom, a comfortable seatback angle and a broad fold-down armrest. The center position is slim, with compromised footroom from a tall transmission tunnel. Trunk space is wide, square and expandable with a 60/40 folding seatback.

Ride quality can be set for comfort, sport or an automatic mode to let the system set the pace. The steering weight is uncommonly light for a Euro four-door, but the effect is still sharp and communicative — and deadly precise when diving into a corner.

The brakes — 14-inch fronted vented discs, 13-inch rear — give an absolute response without throwing occupants from their seats.

Audi leveraged comfort, creativity and fuel economy to raise its A6 to a world standard of prestige and luxury. It's a subtle sedan, but elite. For those who want more drama on their daily drive, Audi's sleek A7 Sportback is based on the A6, but with fastback styling. To make that statement will cost around $60,000 to start, which could make the A6 a value statement.

Mark Maynard is driving in cyberspace at Mark.Maynard@UnionTrib.c om. Find photo galleries and more news at Facebook.com/MaynardsGara ge.

Specs Box: 2012 Audi A6 Prestige Quattro

• Body style: large, 5-passenger sport sedan

• Engine: 310-hp, supercharged and intercooled, direct-injection, 3.0-liter V-6 with 325 ft.-lb. torque at 2,900 to 4,500 rpm

• Transmission: 8-speed Tiptronic

• 0-60 mph: 5.3 seconds

• EPA fuel economy estimates: 19 mpg city, 28 highway; premium fuel recommended

• Fuel capacity: 19.8 gal.

• Trunk space: 14.1 cu. ft.

• Front head/leg/shoulder room: 37.2 (with sunroof)/ 41.3/57.5 in.

• Rear head/leg/shoulder room: 37.8/37.4/56.3 in.

• Length/wheelbase: 193.9/114.7 in.

• Curb weight: 4,045 lbs.

• Turning circle: 39 ft.

• Standard equipment includes: keyless start; leather-trimmed seating; three-zone automatic climate control with rear temp control and vents; 17- inch alloy wheels with 225/55/R17 all-season tires; 4-spoke multi-function leather steering wheel; heated/ folding mirrors; tilt-telescopic steering wheel; folding rear seat with pass-through; 5-inch monochrome driver information system; power/heated front seats; power with driver 4-way lumbar; glass sunroof; halogen headlights; Audi music interface with iPod cable; Bluetooth wired

• Safety features include: six air bags; electronic stability and traction controls

• Base price: $50,775, including $875 freight charge; price as tested: $61,530

• Options on test car: Prestige package, $6,880, includes S-line exterior treatment, 18-inch wheels, navigation with Audi connect, front and rear parking sensors, four-zone climate control, cooled front seats, Bose audio system with HD radio, advanced key locking and push-button ignition, xenon headlights with LED driving lights and 7-inch color information screen; 19-inch Sport package, $1,500, adds 19-inch wheels with Pirelli P Zero tires, sport suspension, three-spoke multifunction steering wheel and shift paddles; LED headlights ($1,400); side assist blind-spot detection ($500)

• Where assembled: Neckarsulm, Germany

• Warranty: 4-year/50,000-mile bumper-tobumper with four years of roadside assistance; free scheduled maintenance the first year or 12,500 miles

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