The Audi A6 has been a leading midsize luxury sedan for many years-except in the U.S., where it has generally played second fiddle to rivals from BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and even Lexus. Despite the A6’s vaunted Quattro all-wheel-drive system and impressive equipment roster, it never found stateside success that compared to its dominance overseas. Audi knew that a certain something was missing, so it resolved to make the next A6 a luxury sedan that even the most discerning American would desire.
With the arrival of the 2012 Audi A6, that next generation is now, and we think Audi has mostly hit the mark. The new A6 maintains the previous model’s front-wheel-drive layout with available Quattro, but it has otherwise been completely reinvented. Amazingly, it’s actually lighter than it used to be, which pays dividends in both fuel economy and performance. In most other respects, too, the new A6 is a major improvement over its predecessor.
Here are AutoTrader’s five reasons to be an early adopter and buy the 2012 Audi A6:
1. New 2.0T model provides exceptional fuel economy: In keeping with these increasingly green-conscious times, Audi has downsized the A6 under the hood, replacing the old base 3.2-liter V6 with the same turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 (a.k.a. “2.0T”) that powers the A4 sedan. The A6 2.0T also gets a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), just like the A4. The results are impressive: the EPA rates the base A6 at 25 miles per gallon city, 33 mpg highway, and a whopping 28 mpg combined-one mpg more than the standard-issue Chevy Cruze economy sedan. Moreover, because the A6 2.0T is front-wheel-drive, it weighs less than 3,700 pounds, which means it can still get out of its own way, even with just 211 horsepower from that turbo four.
2. Interior is a home run: Audi has long made some of the best interiors in the business, but it has really outdone itself with the 2012 A6. Materials quality is excellent, and the overall look is exceptionally sophisticated. As for the technology offerings, well, in the words of the late Macho Man Savage, “Oooh, yeah!” You’ve got the latest version of Audi’s multimedia interface (MMI), which uses a crisp display screen that retracts into the top of the dash. You’ve got built-in 3G wireless connectivity with Google Earth graphics for the navigation system. You’ve even got a little digital scratch pad that can “read” what you scrawl on it with your finger. Cars don’t get much geekier than this (and we mean that as a compliment).
3. Exterior styling is mature and appealing: Audi’s design team has quietly distinguished itself by keeping its designs crisp, cutting-edge, and perfectly proportioned. The new A6 may be its best effort yet-just look at the exquisite detailing of the headlights and taillights, or at how this fundamentally front-wheel-drive car is clipped at the nose to give it the taut profile of rear-wheel-drive rivals. Whereas the previous A6 was a bit bulbous and overgrown, the new one’s had all that fat trimmed. No doubt about it, this Audi’s got style.
4. Supercharged V6 is powerful and fuel-efficient: Introduced toward the end of the old A6’s run, the available supercharged 3.0-liter V6 (name “3.0T,” for reasons clear only to Audi marketers) delivers 310 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque. If that doesn’t seem like enough, don’t worry-Audi has almost certainly underrated this engine by a significant margin, as numerous performance tests have revealed its ability to keep up with many V8-powered rivals. Doesn’t hurt, of course, that the A6 3.0T weighs a couple hundred pounds less than the typical V8 bruiser. In terms of fuel economy, though, the 3.0T is very un-V8-like. Rated at 19-mpg city, 28-mpg highway, and 22-mpg combined, the A6 3.0T delivers virtually unprecedented efficiency for a high-performance, all-wheel-drive luxury sedan.
5. Fun-to-drive meter is at an all-time high: Yes, we know that most luxury-sedan drivers don’t take their rides to weekend track days, but there’s something to be said for a car that’s happy to dance when asked. While BMW used to have the market cornered in this respect, its recent efforts have focused more on luxury than sport, leaving the door open for a rival to claim the fun-to-drive crown. We think Audi may have done just that with this new A6. Light on its feet and extraordinarily responsive, it’s got the kind of handling that makes you want to take the long way home. Even if you never fully exploit the A6’s newfound athleticism, it’s still nice to know it’s there.