Overview
The Audi A6 continues the firm's legacy of dynamic excellence and exceptional comfort. The A6 is packed with technology, enhancing convenience and driving dynamics. The attention to detail inside and out is impressive.

Most vehicles are redesigned every five years or so and this latest-generation A6 was launched as a 2005 model. It's larger and roomier than the previous-generation version, and features dramatically changed styling. If you believe the best time to buy a new car is in its second year of production, then the time to buy the A6 is now. The newest generation of vehicles typically have the latest in safety features and engineering, and some studies suggest quality is higher in the second year of production because the bugs have been worked out.

For 2006, the A6 lineup has been filled out to include an Avant, or wagon, as well as a new front-wheel-drive model.

There is much to love about the A6. Its cabin is airy and comfortable, with firm, supportive seats. Its styling is crisp, clean and modern, though the front is dominated by a massive grille that's somewhat controversial. There's nothing controversial about the driving experience, however. Underway, the A6 boasts sharp, precise steering, and a firm ride. In high-speed corners the quattro models feel like they're on rails, one of the benefits of Audi's superb all-wheel-drive system. Braking and handling are excellent, whether on dry pavement or when hurdling through a torrent of rain.

V6 and V8 versions of the A6 are available. The well-equipped V6 model delivers brisk acceleration performance, while the V8 qualifies the A6 as a high-perforance sports sedan. Either way, the Audi A6 deserves consideration by anyone shopping for a luxurious sports sedan in its price range.


Model Lineup
The 2006 Audi A6 line includes the 3.2 quattro ($43,970) and 4.2 quattro ($53,770) sedans, and the new Avant 3.2 quattro ($46,870). Also new for 2006 is a 3.2 FrontTrak sedan, which uses front-wheel drive and a CVT automatic.

The 3.2-liter V6 delivers 255 horsepower, while the 4.2-liter V8 generates 335 horsepower. The quattro models feature Audi's all-wheel drive and come with six-speed automatic transmissions. The Avant is a wagon.

The A6 3.2 comes loaded with standard features. Among them: leather upholstery; wood trim; dual-zone automatic air conditioning with pollen filters; AM/FM/6CD with 10 speakers; 12-way power driver's seat with four-way adjustable power lumbar support; split-folding rear seats; tilt/telescoping steering column; leather-wrapped, multi-function steering wheel; leather-wrapped shift knob; theft deterrent system. It comes with 16-inch alloy wheels.

Options for the 3.2 include premium leather upholstery ($1,000); power opening and closing rear tailgate ($450); manual rear and side window sunshades ($250); 18-inch alloy wheels with all-season tires ($900); rear side airbags ($350); a DVD-based navigation system ($1,800); Sirius or XM satellite radio ($550); a leather-segmented steering wheel with shift paddles ($690). Also available by ordering: a heated steering wheel ($200), adaptive air suspension ($2,300), and adaptive cruise control ($2,100).

The S-Line Package ($2,950) includes a sports suspension, 18-inch alloy wheels, gray birch wood trim, S-Line badges, S-Line front and rear bumpers, and headlight washers. Solar sunroof panels are available for 4.2 models ($600). A Premium Package ($2,500) for 3.2 models includes bi-xenon headlamps, adaptive headlamps, a Bose premium sound system, auto-dimming interior mirror with compass, auto-dimming and electrically folding exterior mirrors, memory for the driver's seat and mirror adjustments, Homelink, and a storage package. The Technology Package ($3,800) includes voice recognition, Advanced Key, rear Parktronic, DVD navigation, and satellite radio. A Cold Weather Package ($400) offers heated rear seats and a ski sack. The 3.2 sedan also offers front sport seats ($500).

The 4.2 quattro comes standard with the premium leather, 17-inch wheels, high-intensity headlamps, power sunroof, upgraded mirrors and upgraded audio. The 4.2 offers similar options to those for the 3.2.

Active safety features that come standard include an electronic stability program, anti-lock brakes (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution, and Brake Assist. Passive safety features include two-stage frontal airbags, side-impact airbags to protect the torso, head airbags to protect the head in a side impact, and active front head airbags to help protect occupants from a collision from behind. A tire-pressure monitor comes standard to alert the driver to a soft tire.

     

Walkaround
The Audi A6 is a study in excellent design. It has the look of a four-door coupe, with clean, flowing lines. The overall looks is upscale, masculine. A giant grille dominates the front of the car. Some like it, some don't. It's a slippery design with a drag coefficient of 0.28.

The new 2006 Avant is an especially sleek looking wagon, distinguished by a coupe-like roofline. The arching shoulder line and relatively narrow glass create a dynamic profile that terminates in a gently sloped tail marked by distinctive two-piece LED taillights. Overall the design language says European elegance.

Much of the beauty of the A6 is in the details: Body panels fit closely together around the doors, hood and trunk lid, as well as along places such as the bottom edge of the tail lamp. It's a result of close tolerances. You won't even find a rubber strip at the top of windshield, nor strips on the sides of the roof. Door jams, the trunk flange and other areas normally hidden are Class A surfaces, smooth and painted as on the exterior body panels. Not everyone will notice this level of detail, but most will sense a general look of quality.

Aluminum was used for key body panels to save weight, though not to the extent of the expensive all-aluminum A8. The lever-style outside door handles are stylish, but aren't as easy to operate as the grab handles that don't require flipping your hand over. Overall, the A6 sets a benchmark in quality of materials and build quality.

 

Interior Features
The atmosphere inside the Audi A6 is light and airy, particularly with the lighter-colored leather choices. The leather that comes standard in the 3.2 model is nice, including a handsome two-tone treatment of light-colored seats and door inserts and charcoal dash and door trim. Wood trim now comes standard on all models. Premium Volterra leather comes standard on 4.2 models and is optional on 3.2s. We particularly like the gray birch trim in the S-Line Package.

The front seats are comfortable and supportive. We never gave them much thought during a drizzly day of driving from Milan to Lake Como, a good sign.

The rear seats are comfortable, too. Audi designed room in the rear-seat footwell for bulky shoes, like sneakers on teenage boys, to be able to easily swing by the B-pillar when getting in and out. This latest-generation A6 is much roomier than pre-2005 models.

Up front, everything is oriented around the driver. A center console with a control panel separates driver and passenger, and their legs go into separate tunnels. The driver benefits from a nice four-spoke steering wheel or a nicer, sportier three-spoke wheel and a straightforward instrument panel. The center stack is angled toward the driver. Climate controls are located at the bottom of the center stack that are sophisticated but straightforward and easy to operate. At the top of the stack, above the vents, is a crisp seven-inch screen that displays navigation and other functions.

Audi's Multi Media Interface, which features a large knob and some buttons on the center console, controls many of the interior functions. This eliminates a lot of switches, making for a clean-looking dash. To further reduce clutter, the switch for the glovebox is located on the center of dash. Mastering the MMI takes time and requires reading the owner's manual. Too many times, we've found it a distraction, though less so than BMW's iDrive system.

High technology can also be found in what have been traditionally mundane controls. The parking brake is electronic; pull the switch up to set it, press to release it. The hood release operates only when the door is open. The wipers are speed sensitive. A Bluetooth-enabled interface integrates compatible cell phones.

Typical of German sedans, the A6 does not offer many places to put stuff. The glovebox is very small, especially with the available CD changer. The cup holders are nice, though they are positioned awkwardly toward the rear.

The trunk is deep. Luggage capacity is nearly 16 cubic feet, more than the BMW and comparable to the Mercedes, but trunk opening is relatively small. Attention to detail can be seen inside the trunk. Raise the floor panel to get at the spare tire and you'll note that it can be hooked up in place, making it easier to remove or replace the spare.

If greater utility is needed, the Avant is an elegant answer. This A6 sport wagon provides the versatility of a sport utility without compromising the superb road manners of a European-bred sports sedan. The luggage compartment offers a variety of configurations and features two securing rails recessed into the floor of the load area, while four lashing eyes and a luggage net are provided to secure objects. The load floor can be folded up and locked in several ways, which provides access to a lower load area lined by a plastic tray, an ideal cubby for stowing wet or muddy gear.

 

Driving Impressions
The Audi A6 is dynamically superb. The A6 quattros deliver a feeling of being on rails, benefits of a rigid chassis, a well-engineered sports suspension, and Audi's superb all-wheel drive.

The quiet cabin allows for easy conversation even when driving quickly. The ride feels firm but is nicely damped for sharp bumps. It's among the best in class in comfort and near or at the top of class in handling.

New for 2006 is an adaptive air suspension that optimizes road holding and comfort. It's a marvelous invention that really helps keep the car securely fastened to the ground.

Audi's servotronic steering allows precise control; the driver simply thinks where he or she wants to go and the car goes there. Grip is excellent. Drive the car to its limit, impossible to do on public roads without being socially irresponsible, and you'll eventually encounter a small amount of understeer. The highly rigid chassis gives the car the feeling of being carved from one block of material. This rigidity allowed the Audi engineers to precisely tune the suspension. The A6 uses Audi's proven four-link front suspension and the self-tracking trapezoidal-link rear suspension adapted from the A8.

The flat torque curve of both the V6 and V8 engines gives the A6 a feeling of smooth, sophisticated power and responsiveness at all speeds.

The 3.2 V6 delivers strong response from 2000 to 6000 rpm. It offers lots of torque, giving it quick acceleration off the line and responsive performance at all speeds. Audi says the 255-horsepower V6 is capable of propelling the A6 from 0 to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds, which is reasonably quick. We were able to easily work through traffic between Milan and Lake Como and felt no need for the more powerful V8. This impression was reaffirmed in a subsequent drive of the A6 Avant 3.2 in Italy's Dolomite Mountains. Not only was the V6 in full compliance with our lead-footed driving habits, if we hadn't occasionally looked in the mirror, we couldn't have told whether we were driving the sedan or the wagon as we raced up and down the twisting alpine roads. We also like the V6's better 19 city/26 highway EPA fuel mileage compared to the V8's 17/23.

The V8 produces 335-horsepower, enough to propel the A6 4.2 from 0 to 60 in 5.8 seconds, which is quite quick indeed. Unlike most cars based on front-wheel-drive platforms, the A6 mounts its engines longitudinally, rather than sideways, improving the flow of power between front and rear wheels and improving driving dynamics.

The six-speed automatic transmission that comes on all models is super smooth and adds considerably to the joy of driving the A6 and its responsive performance. If the mood strikes you, shift into the Tiptronic mode and shift manually, but we found it worked exceptionally well in Drive. It always seems to be in the right gear, whether quick acceleration is wanted or smooth, quiet cruising is preferred.

 

Summary
The Audi A6 excels at driving dynamics. It's a wonderful car for quick commuting, smooth high-speed travel, and spirited driving. It's smooth and quiet, good for easy conversation and listening pleasure. It's more enjoyable to drive than the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and is a compelling alternative to the BMW 5 Series, particularly when weather enters the picture. For weather, you can't beat quattro.

NewCarTestDrive.com editor Mitch McCullough filed this report from Milan, with Greg Brown in Italy's Dolomites.

 

Model Line Overview

Model lineup: Audi A6 3.2 FrontTrak; 3.2 quattro ($43,970); 4.2 quattro ($53,770); Avant 3.2 quattro ($46,870)
Engines: 3.2-liter V6; 4.2-liter V8
Transmissions: 6-speed automatic with Tiptronic; 7-speed multitronic CVT
Safety equipment (standard): ABS, ESP, EBD, Brake Assist; two-stage frontal airbags, side-impact airbags, head airbags, active front head airbags; tire-pressure monitoring system
Safety equipment (optional): dual rear seat-mounted side airbags; quattro all-wheel drive
Basic warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles
Assembled in: Germany

Specifications As Tested

Model tested (MSRP): Audi A6 3.2 quattro ($43,970)
Standard equipment: leather seating surfaces, wood interior trim, automatic dual-zone climate control with filter, Multi Media Interface (MMI) with 7-inch color screen, power windows with one-touch up and down, electromechanical parking brake, cruise control, rear window and side mirror defogger, power remote door locks, remote trunk unlock, illuminated vanity mirrors, 12-way power and heated front seats, folding rear seat, floor mats, tool kit, trip computer, anti-theft system, variable intermittent wipers with heatable washers, rain sensor, 10-speaker AM/FM/CD 6-disc changer, Servotronic power rack-and-pinion steering, leather-covered steering wheel and shift knob, tilt and telescope steering wheel, tire-pressure monitor
Options as tested (MSRP): Premium Package ($2,500) includes bi-xenon adaptive headlamps, Bose premium sound system; auto-dimming interior mirror with compass, auto-dimming and electrically folding exterior mirrors, memory for driver's seat and mirror adjustments, Homelink, storage package; Sunroof package ($1,450) includes power glass sunroof and heated front seats
Destination charge: 720
Gas guzzler tax:  
Price as tested (MSRP): 48640
Layout: four-wheel drive
Engine: 3.2-liter dohc 24v V6
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 255 @ 6500
Torque (lb.-ft. @ rpm): 244 @ 3250
Transmission: 6-speed automatic with Tiptronic
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy: 19/26
Wheelbase: 111
Length/width/height: 193/73/57.4
Track, f/r: 63.5/64
Turning circle: 39
Seating capacity: 5
Head/hip/leg room, f: 38.6/57.1/41.3
Head/hip/leg room, m:  
Head/hip/leg room, r: 37.7/56.0/36.9
Trunk volume: 15.9
Payload:  
Towing capacity:  
Suspension, f: independent four-link
Suspension, r: independent self-tracking trapezoidal-link
Ground clearance: 4.6
Curb weight: 4012
Tires: 245/45R17
Brakes, f/r: disc/disc with ABS, EBD, Brake Assist
Fuel capacity: 21.1

Copyright © 1994-2003 New Car Test Drive, Inc.
New Car Test Drive

Copyright © 1994-2009 New Car Test Drive, Inc.

Related Articles & Car Reviews

Find Cars for sale near you:

Research by Vehicle Type

  • Convertible
  • Coupe
  • Hatchback
  • Hybrid
  • Luxury
  • Sedan
  • SUV
  • Truck
  • Van/Minivan
  • Wagon

Shopping Tools

Compare the 2006 Audi A6 with these competing Sedans:

  • 2006 Volkswagen Jetta Sedan
  • 2006 Ford Taurus
  • 2006 Chevrolet Impala Police Pkg

For Sale on Autotrader.com

Please enter your ZIP to see prices and listings near you.

Loading Ajax Content Loading Ajax Content