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Audi A6 Quattro AT6 Review


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AUDI A6 3.2 QUATTRO AT6 Review
By Steve Purdy
Detroit Bureau
The Auto Channel

We love our quattros on the slippery stuff. Introduced in 1980, quattro was one of the first mass market permanent all-wheel-drive systems. With every generation the system gets even better. This makes two years in a row that we’ve had one as our weekly tester for our 4-hour, dead-of-winter trip to the Chicago Auto Show. We always expect challenging roads for that trip and we were not disappointed this year.

Last year we encountered “lake effect” wet snow that began as ice-glazed roads then became about three inches of freezing slush all the way from Kalamazoo to Chicago. Trucks and cars populated the ditch and median nearly all the way but we just cruised along confidently as the Q7 quattro corrected itself staying securely on the roadway. This year we encountered just a few inches of snow in downtown Chicago and black ice on the drive home. Again the all-wheel drive kept us straight and stable while others took the ditch. It’s much easier to love our Midwestern winters when we have quattro to rely on.

The third generation A6 midsize luxury sedan is a lovely thing to look at. In typical Audi fashion the lines are smooth, rounded and classy. This is not an ‘athletic’ style, rather it projects an image of quiet competence. I find that design language comfortable and attractive. It looks more lengthy than the previous version with large rear doors. The big 18-inch, 40-profile tires on sporty 5-spoke alloy wheels set it off with a nicely modern image. Dual exhaust outlets and a subtle lip on the trunk’s top ridge (they call it a spoiler) add to a authoritative appearance.

Two engines are available in the A6, a 350-hp V8 and this 255-hp, direct injected 3.2-liter V6. The high-performance S6, of course is a different animal all together. Our 3.2-liter makes a respectable 245 pound-feet of torque and is mated to a smooth 6-speed automatic with Tiptronic controls. Acceleration feels plenty strong – not awesome, but more than adequate and seamless. Most drivers will feel no disappointment even after spending the big bucks for this car. Rated at 17 to 25 mpg on recommended premium fuel, we observed 22 on our Chicago trip. It felt like we were getting more since it has a 21.1-gallon fuel tank resulting in the gauge moving slowly down.

Speaking of our drive to Chicago, I found myself annoyed repeatedly by the cruise control. Unless I’m missing some shortcut, getting it set to cruising speed is cumbersome. First we turn on the system and it shows a cruise speed of 19-mph. Then we must bump the stalk again and again and again to get it up to 70, or 80 or whatever we want. We can’t just trigger it at speed. What’s up with that? The only other annoyance presented itself on our drive home in the pitch dark of a winter night. I like to be able to turn the dash lights off altogether or at least turn them down and nearly out to mitigate eye fatigue. You would be amazed at how much difference that makes. After all, if we’re flowing with traffic there is nothing in all that illuminated stuff that we need to know when cruising on the freeway after dark. Well, the Audi will let us dim the dash lights so little that we can hardly tell the difference from full on.

Otherwise the driving environment is classy and comfortable, if a bit conservative. The sporty seats adjust infinitely, it seems, with plenty of bolster and just the right degree of firmness. The leather, wood and other materials are as good as we would expect in a premium luxury car. We feel perfectly safe surrounded by more airbags than a Senate hearing and the A6 has earned IIHS’ best ratings in crash and roll-over protections.

Audi’s Multi-Media Interface including the navigation controls get more user friendly with each iteration. The first one I tried to use a few years ago just was not intuitive at all and after consulting the book carefully I finally figured out how to reorient the map with north at the top, three levels into the setup system. This time I intuited my way to that control only two levels in. Most systems, by the way, allow that change on the screen without keying into the setup mode.

Handling is firm and controlled, also as we would expect from a German luxury car. Speed-sensitive steering, four-link front suspension, trapezoidal rear link suspension, ABS with Brake Assist and Electronic Stabilization Program, combine with the Quattro system to give us lots of confidence on any road surface. Cloverleaf Interstate entrance ramps are a pleasure with little body roll and lots of grip.

Our test car shows a base price of $46,100. No extra charge for the Light Silver Metalic paint, black leather interior or 6-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission. We have the Premium Package which includes power tilt and slide sunroof, heated front seats, Bi-Xenon headlights, Bose sound system, auto-dimming mirror with compass, auto-dimming and electric outside folding mirrors, and memory function for driver’s seat. That all costs $3,550. Then we have the $2,500 Technology Package including Voice Control System, adaptive lighting, Advanced Key and automatic parking system, Homelink and power tilt and telescopic steering wheel. Our S-Line Interior package consists of S-Line sport front seats, special 3-spoke steering wheel, upgraded leather interior and gray birch wood inlays adding another $2,000. The navigation system adds $1,600, sport suspension is $500 and Audi Music Interface costs $290. With all that the bottom line is $57,315.

Warranty is 4-years/50,000-miles with a 12-year guarantee against corrosion perforation. Your first scheduled maintenance is free.

I’m sure glad Audi stuck it out in the US market even after sales tanked, the result of the bogus unintended acceleration scandal many years ago. There was also a time, long past as well, when the popular line was that the only good Audi was one under warranty. That too was bogus. Audi makes a full line of wonderfully engineered vehicles with style and solid content, though a bit pricey, like most German cars.

© Steve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved