Audi A6 3.2 Quattro Review

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MODEL:  Audi A6 3.2 quattro
ENGINE: 3.2-liter DOHC V6
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE:  255 hp @ 6,500 rpm/243 lb.-ft. @ 3,250 rpm 
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic with Tiptronic
WHEELBASE: 111.9 in.
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT:  193.5 x 79.2 x 57.5 in.
TIRES: 225/55R17 all-season
CARGO:  15.9 cu. ft.
ECONOMY:  19 mpg city/26 mpg highway/20.1 mpg test
PRICE: $48,770 (includes $720 destination charge)

The first thing you notice about the Audi A6 is its new styling. The front end, or face, is a cross between a Chrysler 300 and a Honda ridgeline. Yet, despite that rather unflattering description, Audi pulls it off.

The wheelbase has grown 3.2 inches over the previous model, providing good rear legroom to go with excellent front legroom. There are indents in the backs of the front seats for rear passengers to place their knees. Rear passengers also gain a fold-down armrest that contains a first aid kit, as well as the prerequisite cupholders. When it's lowered, the armrest reveals a pass-through from the trunk that's useful for skis and other long, narrow objects.

The trunk itself is deep and measures 15.9 cubic feet, a lot for a car that's classified as a mid-size. The rear seats fold 60/40 to provide a larger cargo area if necessary. There were assist handles at all four doors to aid senior citizens such as myself with entry.

Under the hood is a 3.2-liter double overhead cam V6 engine that delivers a strong 255 horsepower. Power reaches the road through a 6-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic, Audi's version of a clutchless manual. So it's possible to use it as a manual if you so choose, but there's enough power in the Audi's engine that using the manual mode to extract maximum performance is almost redundant.

When I looked under the hood I was amazed by how wide the engine seemed. However, all the dipsticks and fillers were clearly labeled.

One feature I liked about the A6 was the smoothness of the power. While there is abundant oomph under the hood, you never gets the feel that the car is overpowered or overpowering. Like a true luxury car, the performance is distinguished by its invisibility.

Our tester also had quattro, Audi's permanent all-wheel drive system. This is seamless, and you rarely realize it's there. While it's ideal in snow, ice, or wet weather, quattro is also good for getting the most from your handling package, as on tough winding roads. We didn't' have the bad weather, but in the interests of good testing procedures, we checked quattro on some tight corners and it worked well. The front suspension was a four-link design, while the rear had a trapezoidal link.

The instrument panel is clear, with two big gauges and two accessory gauges. The readout even gives the date and year. The navigation system ($1,500) is clear and complete, showing even minor streets. The nav system screen also works with the audio system. Finding stations and tuning takes some practice, but it's an excellent system once you get the hang of it. I liked the feature where all the stations that are in range are shown. There are times when stations I know are in range aren't displayed, and a little finagling with the knobs can bring those stations in. The information on the screen also has car settings, such as oil pressure, HVAC system settings, etc. Adjustments can be made with the joy knob and it's very intuitive. The audio system was excellent, with great sound. We had a Bose premium sound package (part of a $3,000 premium package that also included a glass sunroof, bi-xenon headlamps and wood interior trim) that gave a concert hall feeling.

This is a luxury car and has, among other features: the Multi-Media Interface (MMI) with the 7-inch color screen, automatic dual zone climate control, power windows with "one tough" and automatic pinch control, 12-way power front seats, Bluetooth phone preparation and leather seats.

There were also air bags all over the car and a LATCH system for children's car seats. The A6 seemed like a nicer package that the more luxurious A8, although it's not as technologically advanced. But it gives up nothing to its bigger brother in luxury or performance.

2005 The Auto Page Syndicate

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