Review: Audi A6 oozes German efficiency, luxury – USA TODAY
MALIBU, Calif. — No one actually needs a luxury car, you just yearn to have one.
Sure, you can swaddle the interior of your Toyota Camry in enough top-grain leather to outfit a heavy-metal band, but at the end of the day, it’s still a Camry. The lines of the current Ford Fusion are so beautifully sculpted that it could ferry diplomats, yet it still has the no-flash soul of a Ford.
Which brings us to the newly redone 2016 Audi A6. It’s a perfectly respectable midsize luxury car that does pretty much everything well. The new one has increased horsepower, a gorgeous integration of Google Earth into the navigation system and newly redone headlights and taillights to keep it on the cutting edge.
The goal was “a more modern look and the look power that comes in the new engines,” says Anthony Foulk, product manager for the A6.
Nice. Not breakthrough. Just nice. What makes it special, however, is that it is an Audi. The refreshed A6, which started coming to showrooms about a month ago, is thoroughly German, a car that revels in its techno-nerdiness and precision on the road. Both in design and driving charactistics, it’s a bit emotionless. If emotion counts, look to the more fluid A7 fastback instead.
How does the new A6 stand out? Three ways:
•Engines. Audi has added a lot more oomph to its engines. The A6 with a 2-liter turbocharged motor comes in at 252 horsepower, up from 220. In the car world, a 32 horsepower leap in a single swipe is considered impressive. With the additional power, the car with this base engine had adequate pep, though not an overabundance.
The more powerful turbocharged 3-liter engine got a 23 horsepower boost, up to 333. And for the most spirited performance, the sport version of the car, the S6, gets a 4-liter engine that turns out 450 horsepower, up 30 from the previous version. There’s a diesel version, too.
Interestingly, Audi’s engineers didn’t achieve those kinds of gains through a single breakthrough. “There are a lot of small things that add up to a lot of efficiency,” Foulk says. A few of them outlined by Rainer Wurms, head of gas engines for Audi, would draw blank stares from most would-be buyers: better turbochargers, a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, improved bearings and alike.
Enough of that. Just give us the extra power.
•Looks. The new A6 is technically a refreshed model, but it has been dressed up quite a bit.
The most noticable differences are in the front and back. The signature LED daytime running lights which look like eyebrows around the headlights have changed from individual bulbs to a single band. It’s a dressier, more upscale look.
The already gaping grille is now a bit wider. In back, the LED taillights have a new design and the twin tailpipes are now more rectangular, not just round.
•Gizmos. You got to love Audi’s hookup with Google maps, which gives Audis one of the coolest navigation system presentations around.
In the A6, the navigation screen slides out of the dashboard and rises up with dramatic flair. Once it’s up, Google Earth presents a three-dimensional view of your route. Driving as we were through valleys and across mountaintops, the journey’s route was especially dramatic. A knob on the console allows the driver to zoom in or out. How far out? You can view your route from space.
Another nifty feature is the car’s ability to show the image on the navigation screen in a condensed space on a patch of the instrument panel to the driver. It allows you to track your journey in a simple glance down, saving a couple milliseconds that your eyes could be on the road.
It’s all great stuff, but the A6 is not without its faults — or at least a few things we wonder about.
The biggest question mark is the stop-start feature. Like so many cars these days, the engine shuts off when the A6 comes to stop. But it can feel abrupt. And you never know when it will happen. Sometimes the engine stays running a few seconds or a minute longer than others. It’s by design, since sometimes the car has need to power more electronics or air conditioning than at other times.
Annoyances aside, there’s a lot to like.
2016 Audi A6
What? A luxury midsize sedan that competes with Acura TLX, Lexus ES, Mercedes-Benz E Class and BMW 5 Series.
When? Went on sale a month ago
How much? Starts at $47,125, including $925 in shipping charges.
Where? Made in Neckarsulm, Germany
What makes it go? The base 2-liter turbocharged engine is rated at 252 horsepower. There’s also a 3-liter engine at 333 horsepower and a 240-horsepower diesel. The 4-liter engine in the S6 performance version spits out 450 horsepower.
How thirsty? The 2-liter is rated at 22 miles per gallon in the city, 32 mpg on the highway and 26 mpg overall.
Overall: Nice luxury statement with a Teutonic twist.