Engine: 2.0-liter turbo four
Power: 252 hp, 273 lb-ft of torque
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Fuel Economy: 22 MPG city, 32 highway, 26 combined
US As-Tested Price: $55,775 including $925 in destination fees
Early last year, I reviewed the high-performance Audi S6, a speedy yet subtle sedan that strikes a seamless balance between suppleness and sport. After putting it through the ringer for a week, I was smitten to say the least.
But not everyone shopping for a luxury four-door wants something that athletic, which is why the four-ring brand also offers several mainstream versions of this generously portioned car, including an entry-level model with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder.
But is such a small engine appropriate in a vehicle with such a rich sticker price? Also, has the pendulum swung too far in the other direction with the 2016 A6? Is it too soft compared to the S6? Let’s find out …
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Starts Like a Lamb, Roars Like a Lion
The A6’s pint-sized powerplant (actually, it’s about 4.23 pints, but who’s counting?) is as familiar to most enthusiasts as breathing air and being covered in skin; it’s omnipresent throughout the Volkswagen Group empire, seeing duty in a wide range of cars and crossovers around the world.
Mounted longitudinally in the A6’s engine compartment this little dynamo puts out a robust stable of 252 horses along with an impressive swell of torque, which peaks at 273 lb-ft, all of which is available from 1,600 rpm to 4,500 on the rev counter.
The quattro-equipped test car we sampled featured an eight-speed automatic transmission, though front-drive variants receive a seven-speed twin-clutch gearbox, as does the S6.
As for consumption, our A6 stickered at 22 miles per gallon in city driving and 32 on highway jaunts. These figures make for a combined score of 26 mpg, which is nothing to sternutate toward. Front-drive models are even more economical, delivering up to 35 miles per gallon on the highway.
During my time with the A6, its on-board computer told me we had managed to achieve 24 mpg in mixed driving; when asked for winning lottery numbers the machine wouldn’t respond, so I reset it. Take that!
This performance is slightly less than what the window sticker claims the car should achieve, though driving like Clyde Barrow running from the law didn’t do efficiency any favors.
If you love everything else about the A6 but want a little more under the hood, Audi also offers a supercharged 3.0-liter gasoline V6 that’s good for 333 horsepower. A turboed diesel six-shooter is also available, serving up a big rig-like 428 lb-ft of torque. Choice is a wonderful thing.
Typical Audi …
Focusing our attention inward, the A6’s cabin is warm and inviting. The test car’s interior was dressed in a tan hue called Atlas Beige, which went nicely with its inky Midnight Blue metallic paint job, a color that added $550 to the sticker price.
Overall, this cockpit is typical Audi, which may sound like damning with faint praise, though it’s actually a compliment. The Ingolstadt-based automaker is still an industry leader when it comes to interior quality and the A6 coddles passengers in numerous ways.
Audi’s attention to detail means all of the buttons and switches feel top shelf, the materials are premium and there’s an abundance of thoughtful design touches. Overall, it looks like the car was created by an OCD jeweler trying to clone a Fabergé egg. It’s cohesive and arguably nicer than the sum of its parts.
The open-pore wood trim is particularly noteworthy. These pieces are made from thin slices of timber laminated between contrasting strips of darker material. This gives it a technical look yet one that’s still warmer than what you’d get from either aluminum or carbon fiber.
The A6’s rear seat is generous for taller passengers, though a little additional headroom would be appreciated. Likewise, any rider seated in the center of the bench will pine for more foot space as a large hump in the floor gobbles up much of the real estate reserved for lower extremities, a common issue with Audis and their all-wheel-drive systems.
On the subject of seats, the A6’s front buckets are surprisingly uninspiring. Simply put, they’re not all that comfortable, lacking both support and bolstering. Better seats can be found in economy cars, which is a shame for a vehicle that starts close to 50 grand.
Putting this sedan in motion reveals one compelling thing; it actually drives like its price tag indicates it should. The A6’s diminutive four-cylinder engine kicks hard just past idle, pulling with unexpected enthusiasm throughout much of the rev range, especially between 2,000 and 5,000 rpm. This car is way quicker than you’d think, particularly when you consider its tubby curb weight, which is just 43 pounds shy of two tons. S6s are even huskier, straining the scale at nearly 4,500 pounds, though they do have a huge power advantage, with 450 horses on tap.
With the eight-speed transmission and quattro Audi claims our test car can hit 60 miles an hour in just 5.8 seconds, which is nearly a second quicker than models equipped with the dual-clutch automatic and front-wheel drive.
Further justifying its price tag, the A6 is impressively refined. The engine is slick, doing a convincing impersonation of a premium V6, plus the body feels extremely sturdy and well made. Take a direct hit from a nasty pothole and the car shrugs the attack off thanks to its rigid structure and relatively soft suspension.
The Price Tag
Base price for a 2016 Audi A6 is $47,125 including $925 in shipping and handling fees. That’s almost $4,500 less than a similar entry-level BMW 5 Series sedan ($51,545). A bargain-basement Mercedes-Benz E-Class is about two grand more expensive than Munich’s offering ($53,575).
The A6 we evaluated rolled off the assembly line with an out-the-door price of $55,775, which seems pretty reasonable considering what you get. The premium package, which adds things like auto-dimming, power-folding exterior mirrors; blind-spot monitoring; a full-color driver information display; and more padded the base price by $3,700. The Warm Weather Package added another $900 to the total, while 19-inch wheels shod in all-season tires increased it by an additional 800 bucks. The abovementioned walnut-wood decorative trimmings cost an extra $500.
The Verdict: 2016 Audi A6 Review
The 2016 Audi A6 is a thoroughly enjoyable luxury sedan. It’s spacious, stylish and unexpectedly swift even when equipped with the “entry-level” four-cylinder engine. Its over-the-road solidity is appreciated, as is its feature content and high-quality interior.
Downsides are few, though a more spacious back bench, more comfortable front buckets and better fuel efficiency would be welcome. The mainline A6 may not perform like a hopped-up S6, but this car is no slouch and is still plenty entertaining, even for enthusiasts.
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