Exterior Design: ***
It works and it doesn't. While this luxury sedan has nice, though moderately conservative, styling on the front and rear end, the A6's profile is something Ingolstadt must fix. It is this car's Achilles heel.
Interior Design: ****
The spot you conduct your asphalt assault from is a really nice place to be. The leather interior in the amaretto-and-black color scheme is highly recommended. The seats have several power adjustments, and six levels of heating help you settle in for your drive. When the sun sets, the interior starts to feel a little like an ultra lounge. The controls glow red while white accent lighting comes on under the seats and on the door panels. The overall fit and finish is of a quality most other OEM's should strive to match.
In Part One, I said the power from the 3.2L V6 felt faster than its 255HP rating. While that still holds true, the motor is not sweet-ba-jesus fast. It's quick enough off the line to make you smile, but once I got up to cruising speeds, there were times I wanted more power. Trying to pass going up a hill really highlighted this issue. I found myself thinking, "This is a pretty quick car, but how much fun must the 4.2L V8 model be?" Ahhh yes, the grass is always greener. Nevermind the S6, which is just incomprehensible.
Bringing the A6 to a halt is quick and easy. Under hard braking, the car tracked forward, straight and true, with no lurching to the left or right. During extended periods of...oh, let's say "sporting" driving on my behalf, the brakes were consistent through the whole drive, with no signs of fade.
Ride doesn't get much better than what you experience in the A6. "Smooth" is the only word you need to know. Though to really throw this car into the corners, you'd probably want a stiffer suspension setup or Audi's optional magnetic suspension. Then again, if you're driving the A6 like a track car, you've bought the wrong car altogether.
I spent all week trying to get this car to misbehave and I failed. To the engineering teams that tuned the chassis, suspension and the Quattro all-wheel-drive system, I say, "Well done." I also ask, "How the hell did you do that?!" If I turned into the corner too hard, it didn't matter. If I accelerated out of the corner too early, it didn't matter. The front end never plowed, the rear end never broke loose, and the body roll was minimal. This chassis was telling me to attack the corners in anyway I saw fit. It would hold the line.
Audi's triptonic transmission shifts effortlessly, quietly and without drama. It's also not much fun. While the mostly-automatic transmission will let you pick your own gear by moving the shifter over to the +/- gate, the A6's electronic nannies still watch over you to make sure you don't over-rev the motor. If you enjoy playing in the red zone of your tachometer, this car may disappoint you.
As part of the technology and convenience packages, my A6 included a Bose sound system, coupled with Sirius radio. If I were Barry White, I would describe the sound quality as silky smooth (that word again). A Bang and Olufsen system would probably be the only factory stereo that could top the Bose. However, when the motor makes such a wonderful noise, why would you ever want to listen to music?
The navigation system is about what you'd expect in a $60,000 luxury car. Unfortunately, entering your destination must be done with the Advanced Multi Media Interface control dial. That means you have to enter your location letter by letter. That process can be a bit cumbersome and time consuming. A touch screen that allowed you to punch in the address would have been a better, quicker option. You can try to speak your location to the car using the voice recognition system, but the computer might not hear you right the first time. Or the third time.
Speaking of Audi's Advanced Multi Media Interface, aside from entering nav destinations, it's really not bad. While this kind of system has gotten a bad name courtesy of BMW's iDrive system, Audi's MMI is really fairly logical. By my second hour in the car, I had the system figured out and the user's guide never left the glove box.
The other cool toy in the A6 is the key. As long as the key is in your pocket, the car will lock when you walk away and unlock when reach for the handle. The proximity switch inside the key also allows you start the car without putting the key in the ignition. Just push the "engine start" button on the center console and the motor comes to life. I'm not completely sure why, but, there is something very cool about an engine start button. Maybe it's that, for a moment, that button makes you feel like Dan Wheldon, the Indy car driver, and not Earl, the tax consultant from Racine.
The A6 I drove was fairly loaded, with a window sticker of $60,165. Is it worth that much? My guess would be no. 60 grand buys you an awfully nice BMW 5 series. A 5'er with a 300hp, turbocharged inline six, no less. That's 45 more horsepower than the A6. Don't get me wrong, the Audi is a great drive. But that window sticker ought to be $3000-5000 farther south.
Before getting behind the wheel of this A6, I wasn't much of an Audi fan. For the past year or two, one of my friends from college has always been telling me how fantastic Audis drive. I usually scoffed at his praise, for no reason in particular. I suppose it was because Audi's older products had fairly humdrum designs. Nevermind that I'd never actually, you know, driven one.
Well when I'm wrong, I'm wrong
The A6 is quite a nice drive for a larger, luxury sedan. I came away hugely impressed with the interior and handling. On the other hand, the six-cylinder model wasn't quite fast enough, and the overall exterior styling is in need of more Botox than has already been pumped into the face of Burt Reynolds.
In short: good, not great.