Overview

Audi is among the sportiest of the luxury brands and the all-new 2005 Audi A6 kicks it up a notch with its dynamic excellence and exceptional comfort.

The A6 is packed with technology, enhancing convenience and driving dynamics. Its interior is airy and comfortable, with firm, supportive seats. It's roomier than last year's model. The 2005 A6 is larger than the previous-generation version, substantially wider and with a longer wheelbase.

Its styling is all new, crisp, clean and modern, the front dominated by a massive grille. It looks upscale with a contemporary design that will not be confused with the rounded lines of the previous A6. Regardless of what you think about the styling, the more closely you look at the new A6 the better it looks. The attention to detail inside and out is very impressive. This is a high-quality design.

Underway, the A6 boasts sharp, precise steering, and a firm ride. In high-speed corners it feels like it's on rails, one of the benefits of Audi's superb quattro all-wheel-drive system. Braking and handling are excellent, whether on dry pavement or when hurdling through a torrent of rain. The well-equipped V6 model offers brisk acceleration performance, while the V8 qualifies the A6 as a high-perforance sports sedan. The 2005 Audi A6 deserves serious consideration by anyone shopping for a luxurious sports sedan in its price range.

Model Lineup

Two models are available: the A6 3.2 and A6 4.2. The 3.2-liter V6 delivers 255 horsepower, while the 4.2-liter V8 generates an estimated 345 horsepower. Pricing hadn't been announced at press time, but Audi said the 3.2 model would be priced around $40,000, while the 4.2 would be in the low $50,000 range. Both come with a six-speed Tiptronic transmission and quattro all-wheel drive.

The A6 is equipped with the latest-generation in active safety features to help the driver maintain control and avoid a crash. Its electronic stability program virtually eliminates skidding of the front or rear tires. Slam on the brakes and the anti-lcok brake system (ABS) allows the driver to maintain steering control by eliminating tire lockup. Electronic Brake-force Distribution transfers braking force to the tires with the best grip to improve braking performance. Brake Assist provides full braking force when it senses the driver has mistakenly reduced pressure on the brake pedal. A tire-pressure monitor alerts the driver to a soft tire.

In the event of a crash, the A6 offers a carefully designed structure, excellent seatbelts, 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.

Walkaround

The previous-generation Audi A6 seemed a bit on the small side for its class, and the new model addresses that. The 2005 A6 is nearly 2 inches wider. It's just an inch longer overall, but the wheelbase is significantly longer (by 2.3 inches), which results in a roomier interior.

Clean, flowing lines give the new A6 a more upscale, more masculine appearance than the rounded lines of the previous generation. A giant grille dominates the front of the car. Most people seem to like it, but the design has drawn criticism from some quarters. AutoWeek magazine ran a head-on shot of the yawning A6 aside a highly publicized photo of a panicked Macaulay Culkin from the movie "Home Alone." We think the new A6 looks much better in person than it does in photographs. The grille makes sense when viewed as part of the progression of A6 design over the years because it essentially joins what had previously been upper and lower grilles into one large one. The chief designer for the A6 told us while conducting a walkaround that Audi spent a considerable amount of time and effort designing the grille to work with U.S. license plates. A6 models sold in states that do not require front plates get an elegant blank panel with two chrome strips. In spite of the grille controversy, the A6 is a study in excellent design. It has the look of a four-door coupe. It's a slippery design with a drag coefficient of 0.28.

Much of the beauty of the A6 is in the details: Body panels fit more 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 closer tolerances. You won't find a rubber strip at 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 these details, of course, but most will perceive 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 we find they aren't as easy to operate as the grab handles that don't require flipping your hand over. That's a personal preference on our part. Overall, The A6 sets a benchmark in quality of materials and build quality.

Interior Features

Like the exterior, the interior of the new Audi A6 is more expressive than that of the previous model, and the attention to detail is remarkable.

The interior is light and airy, particularly with the lighter-colored leather choices. The standard leather is nice and is available in a good-looking two-tone treatment light-colored seats and door inserts and charcoal dash and door trim. Among the trim choices, we liked the dark brown walnut and light beige birch wood trim found on the 4.2 model better than the standard aluminum trim on the 3.2.

The front seats are comfortable and supportive. We never gave them much thought during a day of driving on a drizzly day in Italy, 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.

It's a driver-oriented cockpit. 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. We sometimes found it a distraction, though less so than BMW's iDrive system.

High technology can also be found in what were previously 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 many 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.

Driving Impressions

In terms of dynamics, the new A6 is a superb automobile. It delivers that feeling of being on rails that we've come to expect from Audi, benefits of its rigid chassis, well-engineered sports suspension, and quattro 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. 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, which is hard to do on public roads without being socially irresponsible, and there's a small amount of understeer as is typical of a front-drive based chassis. The highly rigid chassis gives the car the feel of being made from one block of metal and allowed 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 V6 delivers strong response from 2000 to 6000 rpm. It offers lots of torque, that force that propels you from intersections and up hills, 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. Audi says the 335-horsepower V8 can accelerate from 0 to 60 in 5.8 seconds, which is quite quick. Unlike most cars based on front-wheel-drive platforms, the Audi 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. It always seems to be in the right gear, whether quick acceleration is wanted or smooth, quiet cruising. If that isn't good enough for you, select the Tiptronic mode and shift manually among seven ratios. But we found it worked exceptionally well just leaving it in Drive.

Summary

The all-new 2005 Audi A6 represents a compelling alternative to the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, and other cars in this class. It excels at driving dynamics, making for a wonderful car for quick commuting, smooth high-speed travel, are spirited driving. It's smooth and quiet, promoting easy conversation or listening pleasure.

The V6 and V8 engines coupled with the excellent six-speed automatic deliver responsive performance. Quattro all-wheel drive makes this a stable ride regardless of prevailing environmental conditions. Comfort, luxury, a feeling of quality, and those driving dynamics make this a great luxury sedan.

Model Line Overview
Base Price (MSRP)
$NaN
Model lineup:
Audi A6 3.2 quattro; A6 4.2 quattro
Engines:
3.2-liter V6; 4.2-liter V8
Transmissions:
6-speed automatic with Tiptronic
Safety equipment (Standard):
quattro all-wheel drive, 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):
N/A
Basic warranty:
4 years/50,000 miles
Assembled in:
Germany
Specifications As Tested
Model tested (MSRP):
N/A
Standard equipment:
leather seating surfaces, aluminum 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 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:
Premium Package with wood interior trim, multi-function steering wheel, bi-xenon headlamps, Bose premium sound system; rear Parktronic; DVD navigation system; premium leather upholstery
Destination charge:
N/A
Gas Guzzler Tax:
N/A
Price as tested (MSRP)
$NaN
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:
N/A
Wheelbase:
111 in.
Length/width/height:
193/73/57.4 in.
Track, f/r:
N/A
Turning circle:
N/A
Seating capacity:
5
Head/hip/leg room, f:
N/A
Head/hip/leg room, m:
N/A
Head/hip/leg room, r:
N/A
Cargo volume:
N/A
Payload:
N/A
Towing capacity:
N/A
Suspension F:
independent four-link
Suspension R:
independent self-tracking trapezoidal-link
Ground clearance:
N/A
Curb weight:
N/A
Tires:
N/A
Brakes, f/r:
disc/disc with ABS, EBD, Brake Assist in.
Fuel capacity:
N/A
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