The Audi A6 4.2 is a lot like a Michael Bay movie. Bear with me. It's got all the gizmos and gadgetry to make your wildest dreams come true, all centered around a 335-hp V8. Plus, it looks good (more on that later). The A6 4.2 is the automotive equivalent of the summer blockbuster because despite the big stars, jaw-dropping special effects and explosions, it still feels like something is missing, like a plot. Sadly, this analogy still holds true, because underneath all its gadgetry the A6 4.2 is flawed.
But, to really pound this analogy into the ground, neither Michael Bay movies nor the Audi A6 4.2 are bad. They both have plenty to offer, and you cannot be faulted for owning one. Still, Bad Boys II is hardly The French Connection in the same way that the A6 is no E39 (1996-2003) 5-series. It's not exactly a fair comparison, but the point is that sometimes the underlying substance is more important than any amount of gee-whiz gimmickry.
There is plenty about the A6 to praise. First, it's a sharp looking car. I received more complements on the looks of the A6 than any other car I've driven in the last month. It has a very cab-backward look, where the long, flat hood is given more visual length by the fast profile of the roof and the short trunk deck. It's almost a two-box shape. At any rate it's a different take on large-sedan styling, and it works.
Inside the A6 is almost every electronic toy you could dream of. The keyless ignition system is par excellence, if only because you (or your mom, in our case) can ignore it and use a standard key to start the car. But that's just the beginning. The A6 also has smart cruise control, voice recognition, power rear sunshade, and the all-singing-and-dancing MMI interface, which controls the radio and navigation system. There are far too many buttons for a something that's supposed to simplify things for the driver, but it works well and without any delay in input. Yes, it's better than the iDrive, but so is a razor-blade-and-thumb-tack sandwich. Cheap shot? Maybe. True? You betcha.
The A6 4.2 is supremely comfortable, and it cruises at triple-digit speeds with an ease that borders on hilarity. And it arrives at such speeds in a hurry, although without the audible excitement suggested by the V8 at lower speeds. It's just too quiet sometimes, which comes across as a mixed message. The 4.2 is the second-sportiest of A6 models, slotted right below the Gallardo-V10-powered S6. And in that role, should the A6 be a poor man's S6, or more of an executive highway rocket? In truth, it is neither, because the suspension is stiff enough to suggest a level of schportiness that is not supported when it's actually pushed. And the ride on Michigan's third-world roadways is just too damn harsh.
Remember that scene in the The Island where Ewan MacGreagor - no, wait I didn't see The Island either. And until another free one winds up in my driveway, I won't be seeing an A6 4.2 Quattro, even if I could afford it. [by Mike Austin]