The responsive 2014 Audi A6 reminds us of how midsize sport sedans used to be. Blessed with an athletic chassis, great outward visibility and available quattro all-wheel drive, the A6 is a no-nonsense driver's car. By contrast, the once-unrivaled BMW 5 Series has gone soft as of late, and no other competitor has stepped in to fill the void. That's why we think a properly equipped A6 may be the best-driving sedan in its class.
This year, the A6 gets even better with its newly available turbodiesel V6 engine. Boasting 240 horsepower and a whopping 428 lb-ft of torque, the TDI V6 can really move, but wait till you hear about its fuel economy. At an estimated 38 miles per gallon on the highway, the A6 TDI rates as one of the best combinations of performance and efficiency we've ever driven.
Of course, every A6 has a beautifully crafted interior with cutting-edge technology, and we love the understated exterior styling, too. If you're after a midsize sport sedan in the mold of BMWs past, the 2014 Audi A6 just might be your next ultimate driving machine.
What's New for 2014?
The turbodiesel TDI model joins the fold. The 2.0T engine gets an extra 9 hp, and the supercharged 3.0T engine is no longer offered in the base Premium trim level.
What We Like
Lovely supercharged and turbodiesel V6s; nimble handling; top-shelf interior; technology galore
What We Don't
Base engine is short on power; CVT leaves us cold; back-seat comfort could be better
The A6 2.0T features a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline 4-cylinder rated at 220 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. Front-wheel drive with a continuously variable automatic (CVT) is standard, while all-wheel drive with an 8-speed conventional automatic is an extra-cost option. Fuel economy checks in at 25 mpg city/33 mpg hwy with front-wheel drive and 20 mpg city/29 mpg hwy with all-wheel drive.
The A6 3.0T is a whole new ballgame with its supercharged 3.0-liter V6 rated at 310 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque. Both the 8-speed automatic and quattro are mandatory here. Fuel economy is 18 mpg city/27 mpg hwy.
The TDI boasts a turbodiesel 3.0-liter V6 that produces 240 hp and a prodigious 428 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy checks in at an equally impressive 24 mpg city/38 mpg hwy.
Standard Features & Options
The 2014 Audi A6 is available in three trim levels: Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige.
Note that the 2.0T engine is offered in Premium or Premium Plus trim, while the 3.0T and TDI engines are offered in Premium Plus or Prestige trim.
The 2.0T Premium ($43,995) starts with 17-inch alloy wheels, LED taillights, a sunroof, keyless entry with push-button ignition, Audi's Drive Select system (featuring electronic adjustments for steering, throttle and transmission calibrations), leather upholstery, tri-zone automatic climate control (including separate rear controls), power front seats (heated in the 3.0T model) with driver lumbar adjustment, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, Bluetooth, a 10-speaker audio system and MMI Radio Plus -- a basic version of Audi's Multi-Media Interface that includes a 6.5-in power-retracting TFT display screen, full iPod integration, a console-mounted control knob and twin SD-card slots.
The 2.0T Premium Plus ($48,295) adds 18-in alloy wheels, xenon headlamps with LED accents, parking sensors, an upgraded 7-in color driver information display for the gauge cluster, Audi connect online services (including mobile Wi-Fi), a navigation system with Google Earth compatibility and voice recognition software and an upgraded MMI interface with the MMI touch handwriting recognition pad.
Both 2.0T trims come standard with a CVT and front-wheel drive, while all-wheel drive is an extra-cost option that brings with it an 8-speed conventional automatic transmission.
The 3.0T Premium Plus ($55,995) largely shares the equipment roster of the 2.0T Premium Plus, but it comes standard with the supercharged V6 engine, all-wheel drive and the 8-speed automatic.
The TDI Premium Plus ($58,395) trades the supercharged V6 for the turbodiesel TDI V6.
The 3.0T Prestige ($58,795) tops things off with Audi's S line exterior treatment, adaptive xenon headlamps, cooled seats, a power tilt-telescoping steering wheel, quad-zone automatic climate control (including two sets of controls for rear passengers) and a Bose audio system.
The TDI Prestige ($61,195) substitutes -- you guessed it -- the turbodiesel V6.
Many of the higher trims' features are available on lower trims as options. Also offered is a Bang & Olufsen audio system, adaptive cruise control, a Black Optic appearance package and a Sport package that brings a lowered suspension, a 3-spoke steering wheel with shift paddles and 19- or 20-in wheels.
The 2014 Audi A6 comes with standard stability control and 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes. The 3.0T models get ventilated rear disc brakes, while the 2.0T has solid rear discs. Eight airbags are standard (front, front side, front knee, full-length side curtain), and rear side airbags are optional. Numerous advanced safety technologies are also available, including pre sense, a collision mitigation system with automatic braking.
The government generally doesn't crash-test midsize luxury sedans, but the independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the A6 its top rating of Good in every impact category.
Behind the Wheel
The A6's cabin is a thing of beauty. The materials are exceptional, and practically every button, lever and knob oozes class. We're disappointed in the A6's back seat, though. The bottom cushion is rather low, so passengers with longer legs will notice a shortage of under-thigh support. One thing we do appreciate about the A6's rear quarters is the standard separate climate controls, which even gain dual-zone functionality in the 3.0T Prestige.
On the road, the 2.0T engine feels lackluster for luxury-sedan duty, and the entry-level CVT is an imprecise tool, though it does return solid fuel economy. We much prefer the 2.0T's optional 8-speed conventional automatic transmission, which comes bundled with quattro all-wheel drive and gives the A6 a crisper, sportier feel on the road.
If performance is a priority, skip the 2.0T and go straight to either the 3.0T or the TDI. The former is exceptionally refined and delivers authoritative acceleration well into criminal territory, while the latter is almost as fast and much more fuel efficient. We'd only ask for smoother shifts from the 8-speed automatic in spirited driving, particularly when in manual mode.
Although the current A6 continues to use a front-wheel-drive platform, its weight distribution has never been more balanced, and the quattro all-wheel-drive system can send up to 60 percent of the engine's power to the rear wheels for improved driver control. The result is a car that drives smaller and lighter than it really is, especially with one of the Sport packages in place. The ride isn't as buttery-smooth as in some other fancy luxury sedans, however, so we suggest staying away from the gorgeous 20-in wheels, tempting as they may be.
Other Cars to Consider
BMW 5 Series -- The 4-cylinder 528i easily outpaces the A6 2.0T, albeit at a higher price, while the V8-powered 550i would pummel any A6 at a drag strip. But on a winding road, we'd rather be driving the Audi.
Lexus GS -- The recently redesigned GS comes with either a strong V6 or an efficient hybrid powertrain, and it can take a corner with the best of them.
Mercedes-Benz E-Class -- The E-Class's driving dynamics are conservative relative to the A6's, but we love the way the E barrels down the highway, and the E550's twin-turbocharged V8 is intoxicatingly strong.
We prefer the new A6 TDI for its incredible fuel economy and turbocharged punch. It's pricey, but it's also a pretty special car.