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2011 Audi A6 - 2011 Detroit Auto Show

author photo by Autotrader January 2011
January 12, 2011

Audi is earning a name for its expertise in aluminum vehicles, with the all-aluminum A8 flagship sedan recently debuting in its third generation. Aluminum construction is lighter, lending cars both better efficiency and performance, but it is costlier, which is why the technology is concentrated at the high end of the product range.

With the new 2011 A6, Audi aims to democratize aluminum a bit, spreading some into the mid-range luxury models in ways that maximize the benefit without making the A6 uncompetitively expensive. In addition to some of the common bolt-on aluminum bits such as the bumper beams, hood, fenders and trunk lid, the A6 has aluminum castings in places such as the suspension strut mounts.

And the steel is advanced too, made so it is thinner where it can be and thicker only where it needs to be, contributing to minimized weight. The company says drivers can expect gas mileage to be as much as 19 percent better in the new car compared to the outgoing model. The body’s weight is reduced by 15 percent, with the A6’s total weight starting at about 3,500 depending on the powertrain.

Look for a 204-hp 2.8-liter V6 engine to be the base engine in the U.S. with predicted highway fuel economy of 32 mpg. A supercharged 300-hp 3.0-liter V6 engine will be the high-end option, giving the A6 0-60 acceleration of 5.5 seconds while achieving an expected 27 mpg highway.

Efficiency hounds will have two thrifty options to choose from in the A6 line: a 245-hp 3.0-liter V6 diesel engine providing 0-60 acceleration of 6.1 seconds while sipping fuel at 39 mpg or a hybrid electric that is slightly slower and less efficient. The hybrid can, however, whirr around town on electric-only power at speeds as high as 62 mph over a distance of about two miles.

The A6 will offer Audi’s signature all-LED lighting as an option, with a combination HID/LED system also available and halogens as the basic lights. Interestingly, Audi has connected the adaptive lighting system to the navigation system, letting the active lighting system aim into curves before the driver even turns the steering wheel.

Maybe in the next car, the nav system will turn the steering wheel too, rather than just the lights. If so, the driver will be able to better enjoy the soothing sounds of the A6’s mack daddy stereo, the 1,300-watt Bang and Olufsen Advanced Sound System which boasts 15 speakers covered in appropriately technical-looking aluminum grilles. The Advanced Sound System no doubt draws its name from the fact that when the owner’s teenage son drives the car, the whole neighborhood will know he’s coming in advance.

DAN CARNEY is a veteran auto industry observer who has written for, Motor Trend, AutoWeek, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Popular Mechanics, Popular Science, Better Homes and Gardens and other publications.  He has authored two books, "Dodge Viper" and "Honda S2000" and is a juror for the North American Car of the Year award.  Carney covers the industry from the increasingly strategic location of Washington, D.C.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2011 Audi A6 - 2011 Detroit Auto Show - Autotrader