New Car Review
1998 AUDI A6 SEDAN
by Tom Hagin
SEE ALSO: Audi Buyer's Guide
SPECIFICATIONS Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price $ 33,750 Price As Tested $ 39,350 Engine Type DOHC VVT* 5-valve 2.8 Liter V6 w/SMFI** Engine Size 169 cid/2771 cc Horsepower 200 @ 6000 RPM Torque (lb-ft) 207 @ 3200 RPM Wheelbase/Width/Length 108.7"/71.3"/192" Transmission Five-speed automatic Curb Weight 3485 pounds Fuel Capacity 18.5 gallons Tires (F/R) 205/55HR16 Brakes (F/R) Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS) Drive Train Front-engine/front-wheel-drive Vehicle Type Five-passenger/four-door Domestic Content N/A Coefficient of Drag (Cd.) N/A PERFORMANCE EPA Economy, miles per gallon city/highway/average 17/28/24 0-60 MPH 9 seconds 1/4 Mile (E.T.) 16.5 seconds @ 84 mph Top speed 130 mph * Variable-valve-timing ** Sequential multi-point fuel injection
The resurgence of Audi in America is particularly surprising since most of its offerings are in the ultra-crowded near-luxury segment of the auto market. The introduction of the A4 two years ago set things off with its sleek styling and reasonable price, and the luxurious new A8 features technology previously unavailable in mainstream vehicles.
In between is the all-new A6, and like all Audis, it comes with front-wheel or Quattro all-wheel-drive. Ours was the front-drive model.
OUTSIDE - The car is striking and quite identifiable as an Audi. The corporate thinking on the A6 styling is that a four-door sedan shouldn't look like one. As a result, the A6 looks like a coupe due in part to its thin, delicate roof line. Compared to the older model, the new A6 is shorter less than an inch, yet has a longer wheelbase by over three inches and weighs less. And where the old model had long front and rear overhangs and a long rear deck, the new model has a stubby, rounded tail and flush, integrated bumpers. Muscular-looking arcing fender bulges cover standard 15-inch alloy wheels and all-season tires.
INSIDE - The A6 interior is nicely detailed, with soft, opulent lighting and many thoughtful touches. Hinged storage compartments on the doors open much like an art deco cigarette case, and when closed, are hidden from view. Buyers can choose from one of three interiors and Audi has a name for all of them. Each is considered an "atmosphere," because they differ in their mix and style of wood and aluminum trim and the stitch patterns and texture of the upholstery. "Advance" is based on earth-tone colors and open-pore wood trim, while the "Ambition" version is classic with its dark, muted colors and rich-looking wood. "Ambience" is the most flamboyant, with bright colors and lighter trim. The standard equipment list is lengthy, with such items as automatic dual zone climate control, tilt and telescoping steering column, AM/FM cassette stereo, cruise control, remote keyless entry and power windows, door locks, seats and outside mirrors all included in the base price.
ON THE ROAD - The A6 is powered by a new 2.8 liter V6 engine with dual overhead camshafts and five valves per cylinder. It produces 200 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque, up significantly from earlier versions. This engine is shared with the Audi A4 2.8, but the A6 has a less restrictive exhaust system, 10 more horsepower and a bit more torque. Acceleration from a standstill is noticeably stronger than the last A6 version we tested, as is passing power over mountain passes. The standard five-speed automatic transmission with its Tiptronic shift mode is fun to use. This system is becoming somewhat common these days, but Audi's version is impressive. With the shift handle put into a separate slot to the right of the main quadrant, the driver can slip through the gears somewhat like a manual transmission. With five forward speeds and the Tiptronic shifter, the driver needn't wait for the computer to downshift through the gears for quick passing power.
BEHIND THE WHEEL - An all-new platform carries the now-famous Audi four-link front suspension and, in the case of our front-drive version, a torsion beam rear setup. This too has been borrowed from other Audi models, though this year some of the components are made of aluminum and lightweight tubular steel, which saved 22 pounds. The ride is tuned midway between soft and firm, with good absorption of all but the meanest bumps and jolts. Coil springs and anti-roll bars control body lean and brake dive, while its wide track keeps the car firmly planted. The power rack-and-pinion steering system is light and accurate, and the special steering geometry works to negate the effects of torque steer, an effect that plagues some powerful front-drive cars. The four-wheel disc braking system uses the latest anti-lock braking (ABS) technology, and gives impressive stopping power with very little or no fade.
SAFETY - Two dashboard and two side airbags are standard as are side-impact beams, traction control and ABS. Rear airbags are optional.
OPTIONS - Six-disc CD changer; $1,300: Cold weather package: $750; Convenience package (glass moonroof, auto-dimming rearview mirror, seat and mirror memory); $1,500: Leather upholstery; $1,550.