Review: 2002 AUDI A6 3.0 CVT

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

SEE ALSO: Audi Buyer's Guide

By Tom Hagin

SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price $ 35,400

Price As Tested $ 40,325

Engine Type DOHC 30-valve 3.0 Liter V6 With Sequential Multi-point Fuel Injection (SMFI)

Engine Size 182 cid/2976 cc

Horsepower 220 @ 6300 RPM

Torque (lb-ft) 221 @ 3200 RPM

Wheelbase/Width/Length 108.7"/76.1"/192.0"

Transmission CVT automatic

Curb Weight 3552 pounds

Fuel Capacity 18.5 gallons

Tires (F/R) P205/55R16 all-season

Brakes (F/R) Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)

Drive Train Front-engine/front-wheel-drive

Vehicle Type Five-passenger/four-door

Domestic Content One percent

Coefficient of Drag (Cd.) N/A

PERFORMANCE

EPA Economy, miles per gallon city/highway/average 19/25/21

0-60 MPH 7.5 seconds

1/4 (E.T.) 15.5 seconds @ 92.0 mph

Top-speed 130 mph Sales of the Audi A6 have grown each year since the car debuted in 1997. It has steadily gained popularity and, with such advancements as an all-new automatic transmission and a new 3.0-liter V6 engine, Audi expects those numbers to continue to grow.

The A6 is available in front or all-wheel drive, with V6 or V8 power, this week we test the A6 3.0 V6 with the new transmission.

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OUTSIDE - The 2002 A6 has been freshened a bit with new front and rear fascias, but otherwise, it has the same look as it did last year. Ultra modern and still very stylish, its lines convey a minimalist approach, with clean break lines where the body seams meet, with pronounced wheel arch flares and perfectly matched intersections between where the bumpers meet the body and where the body flows into the hood, roof and trunk lid. Most everything on the outside is painted body color except for thin strips of chrome around the side windows and lower trunk lid. Its smooth shape translates into reduced wind noise inside the cabin, and crosswinds affect it less at highway speeds. Five-spoke alloy wheels and P205/55R16 all-season tires are standard, while a set of "wineglass" wheels can be ordered as an option.

INSIDE - The A6's interior is stylish as well, with tactile, attractive and nicely finished details throughout. Numerous seat and steering wheel adjustments allow nearly any size driver to find a comfortable position, while the front seats are very supportive and well-bolstered to keep those inside in place in tight corners. The 70/30 split folding rear seat is lockable and it's very roomy for two adults. But as usual, three across is a tight squeeze. Standard features include power windows, all of which have a "one-touch" up or down feature, power door locks and outside mirrors and 12-way power front seats. Also standard are dual-zone automatic climate control, cruise control, variable-speed intermittent wipers, a 140-watt stereo with eight speakers and a leather gear shift knob.

ON THE ROAD - The A6 3.0 gets its name from the new 3.0-liter V6 engine under its hood. Replacing the previous model's 2.8-liter unit, it now produces 220 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque and weighs almost 27 pounds less. It uses dual overhead camshafts and five valves per cylinder, and features variable valve timing and a two-stage intake manifold as a means of keeping its torque curve consistent throughout its RPM range. In the case of our test vehicle, the engine is mated to a continuously variable transmission Audi calls "Multitronic." This type of transmission uses just one set of gears with a flexible transmission chain that provides an infinite number of gear ratios. Available in the front-wheel drive version only, it is lighter, delivers better fuel mileage and doesn't use a torque converter, the heavy, fluid-filled major component that automatic transmissions have used for decades. It can be used as a fully automatic unit or flipped into a "automatic stick-shift" mode where six discernible gear ratios are available.

BEHIND THE WHEEL - The unibody platform of the A6 is extremely stiff and has been so since its inception, although the 2002 model has been reinforced yet again. And while the latest A6 news focuses on the larger engine and new transmission, almost overlooked is the completely reworked suspension system. Changes have lowered the ride height by nearly an inch, with several of the key components now made of lightweight aluminum instead of steel. Unsprung weight has been reduced by 15 percent, while speed-sensitive, power rack-and-pinion steering that Audi calls "Servotronic" is standard. Braking on A6 3.0 models is handled via four-wheel discs, ventilated in front and solid in back, all utilizing a four-wheel anti-lock braking system. Also standard is "BrakeAssist," a system that assists the driver in applying the maximum amount of braking pressure needed in a panic stop.

SAFETY - Dual dashboard and front seat side-impact airbags, ABS, side curtain airbags, traction control and side-impact door beams are standard.

OPTIONS - Audi navigation system, $1350; Premium Package (multi function steering wheel, xenon high intensity discharge headlights, "Parktronic" reverse sensing system) $1200.

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