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New Car/Review

1998 Audi A6

SEE ALSO: Audi Buyer's Guide

by Larkin Hill

The entire 98 Audi line is spectacular and newly revised; however, the star of the year is the newest addition to the Audi lineup, the A6. Coming in November, Audi will introduce its mid-sized luxury-touring sedan as the "centerpiece" of its 98 line. Completing the 90's Audi family, the all-new A6 sports sleek lines and innovative curves, distinctive from the rest of the family. With an unusual body design it stands out from the crowd. The uniquely designed 3-D taillights distinguish it from the rest of the line and its competition, while the hood, headlights, and bumper sport the unique and familiar Audi face.

In early November along the Central Coast of California the weather is warm and sunny. El Nino seems to be another hyped up catastrophe that has done nothing but brought gorgeous temperatures and blue skies. With the palm trees swaying and the sun shining, the distinctive lines of the Europa Blue Mica Audi A6 adds a touch of sophisticated elegance to the already stunning surrounding. Sliding into the driver's seat and turning the ignition provokes the commanding V6 to purr like a lion.

The luxury sedan gently glided to the highway entrance, and upon slipping it into the Tiptronic system the A6 quickly transformed into a racecar. The powerful V6 packs a powerful punch with its 200 horsepower 2.8-liter DOHC 5-valve engine. This powerhouse uses a revolutionary combination of a five speed automatic transmission with the Tiptronic system and the four link front suspension on both drivetrains (Quattro and FrontTrak) to create the ultimate performance sedan. The A6 hugged the curves and blasted up hills at the flick of the wrist, and even when using the automatic four-speed it conquered steepest of grades with the greatest of ease. The Tiptronic system creates the perfect mesh between comfortable sedan and agile sports car; it truly is the next generation.

To place itself in a separate class, Audi broke the rules for interior design. Now, instead of simply choosing an interior color for your car, there are three different "atmospheres" that can be coordinated to the exterior chosen. Not only do you get to choose the color of the cloth, leatherette, or leather, but also you can chose between wood and aluminum detailing.

The first "atmosphere" is Ambition, which is targeted toward the traditional luxury car buyer who prefers a timeless and sophisticated interior. Ambition comes with the choice of Maroon or Onyx leather or leatherette, complimented by Aluminum Graphite or Polished Burled Walnut trims. Even the front seat pattern for Ambition is different than the other two, with a vertical stitching pattern and rich color selections Ambition will satisfy the most refined customer. The second atmosphere is Ambiente, which offers a sporty feel. Melange, Royal Blue, and Vanilla in a horizontal patterned seat compliment the Aluminum Pearl or the Polished Vavona. The color selections are available in both leather and leatherette. Advance is the third theme that provides softer hues and a choice between leather and cloth. This southwestern earthy theme is complemented by Open Pore Burled Walnut in Terra Cotta and Titanium colored Aluminum Trim. The three colors available are Terra Cotta, Lafo Green, and Tungsten Gray.

All the choices allow for thirty very different possible interior styles. To top it off there are eleven stunning exterior paint colors. Audi has committed itself to being the most accommodating manufacturer on the market. With a superior engine and body design, combined with a vast array of colors both inside and out, Audi has truly outdone itself.

There are many creature comforts one would expect in a luxury vehicle. 12 way power front seats with electric lumbar adjustments with five manually adjustable headrests, three are located in the rear seat. Power door locks and windows allow the driver ultimate control and selection. A 140-watt 8-speaker sound system with subwoofer surrounds the car with sound while the prewiring for a 6-disk CD changer allows for easy instillation. For the safety conscious there are key activated child safety rear door locks and within the central locking system there is a safety unlock feature that automatically turns on the interior lights and unlocks all doors if the airbags are deployed. Audi A6 provides all the features you would expect from a luxury vehicle; with additional comforts available thought five packages along with many stand-alone options.

Overall: While the wrap-around taillights are a very modern touch to a classic manufacturer, it is an advancement I welcome. Similar to what Mercedes did with the E class and its round headlights, the A6, while remaining obviously Audi, has a distinctive touch that positions it between the A4 and A8. The A6 is the ideal understated mid-priced luxury car. Sporty enough to feel young, yet sophisticated enough to know that you've "made it".