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Old 12-01-2010, 10:31 AM   #1
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Default 2012 Audi A6 - Official Photos and Info

Audi plays it safe with its next-generation A6

About a decade ago, when Mercedes-Benz was plagued with quality problems and BMW was about to launch its curiously styled E60 5-series, the Audi A6’s rise to European executive-sedan favorite began. Behind its trademark grille lurked powerful engines (with 580 hp eventually available in the RS6); all-wheel drive was standard in many versions, and the fit and finish and attention to detail—especially in the interior—was enough to make the competition weep.

Stylish Shoes to Fill
While we’re not so sure the wild, pseudo-sporty styling of the latest Mercedes E-class was a step forward, BMW has washed away a lot of sins with the current F10 5-series. Audi, therefore, needed to raise the aesthetic bar again with the next-generation A6—hopes were high, considering the beautiful A5 and A7 models by which the car would be bracketed. Audi has proven time after time its styling leadership among premium brands. Was the boxy and conservative design of the new A8 a singular aberration?

We are afraid not. Laying eyes on the A6 in a hidden studio near Audi's headquarters in Ingolstadt, Germany, we couldn't help but feel disappointed. But let's describe it in more detail first: The front end is dominated by Audi's new corporate grille, and it serves up a new headlamp treatment, one similar to that seen on the Sportback concept but not on the production A7 Sportback. The hood bulges slightly, as on the A4, and the longer wheelbase provided by a front axle that’s been pushed forward gives the new model a more muscular stance than its predecessor's. Order the radar-based cruise-control/distance-keeping system, and you get two black orbs where you expect the fog lights.

The side view is dominated by Audi's typical arcing greenhouse, a sharply folded upper character line, and a sloping trunk. The unobtrusively styled door handles of the predecessor have given way to bulkier units. The rear quarter is characterized by lighting units similar in shape to the A8’s, and a trunklid with the suggestion of a rear spoiler. It's an altogether pleasant shape, but a very conservative one as well, and it seems to us like someone chipped away at the A8’s boxy lines to reveal a bloated A4 underneath.

"The A6 never was a radical car," we are told by Audi, but that's not true; just look at the extremely aerodynamic Audi 5000 C3 (a direct A6 predecessor), or the Claus Potthoff–styled C5-generation Audi A6, with its almost TT-like trunk. We doubt that the S-line package, which Audi will offer later, makes much of a difference. On the A7, for example, it actually detracts from the visual experience. Perhaps it's a better bet to wait for the Avant if you want visual satisfaction.
As on the A8, the lighting technology is perhaps the most fascinating aspect of the vehicle's exterior. Halogen front headlights are standard; xenon (with an LED light strip) and full-LED headlights are optional. With full LEDs, the A6 displays a particularly cold and technoid style, but in the quest for originality, the contour of the LED daytime-running-light strip changes direction perhaps one too many times. The rear lighting units are characterized by a wide, U-shaped lower strip—a new, but not an easily comprehensible, element. Audi will offer a number of aluminum wheels, from 16-inch to 20-inch diameters.

It’s What’s Inside That Counts

While the exterior underwhelms, the interior is arguably best in class. A few clever changes to the A7's trim create a markedly different experience, even though much of the hardware and actual panels are shared. The equipment level can be brought up to A7 standards, with an optional touch pad for the MMI system and a Bang & Olufsen stereo system. The cabin’s wraparound feel evokes the A7 as well, but the door trim is exclusive to the A6 and makes for a different effect. In the car we were able to study, the fit and finish of the switches and buttons were exceptional and simply a class above anything else offered in this segment. The cold white of the instruments is reflected in the optional ambient lighting. Audi offers an exceptionally beautiful, layered wood trim, but there are other cool options as well, including open-pore wood or genuine aluminum.

When the A6 launches in Europe, it will be powered by two gasoline engines and three diesels. The diesel options include a 177-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder; a 204-hp, 3.0-liter V-6; and a 245-hp, 3.0-liter V-6. Gasoline engines include a 204-hp, naturally aspirated 2.8-liter V-6 and a 300-hp, supercharged 3.0-liter V-6. This larger V-6 will be the main engine for the U.S. market; Audi predicts a 5.5-second run to 62 mph and European-cycle fuel economy of 29 mpg.

But there are more versions to come. The one Audi talks most about is the A6 hybrid, which will be front-wheel-drive but otherwise shares its technology with the Q5 hybrid. The A6 hybrid is powered by a 211-hp, 2.0-liter gasoline TFSI four teamed with a 45-hp electric motor. System power is 245 hp; 0 to 62 mph comes in a claimed 7.3 seconds, top speed is 148 mph, and consumption is rated at 38 mpg in the European cycle. With this car, it is possible to drive up to 62 mph on battery power alone, but the range is very limited (two miles at less than 40 mph). You can select fully electric mode if you wish, but Audi engineers warn that it is not always the most efficient mode of transportation. Power is channeled to the front wheels through a modified ZF eight-speed automatic. This model is not yet slated for the U.S. market, but it could easily be added to our lineup.

Less Weight and More Power on the Way

The good news is that Audi has significantly reduced the A6's weight through the liberal use of aluminum: average weight reduction is a claimed 130 pounds. In its current generation, the A6 has won two comparison tests in a row against newer rivals, and this new car should bring further dynamic improvement. The new car’s optional Quattro all-wheel-drive system uses a crown-gear center differential, and you can get a full set of chassis modifications, including an adaptive suspension, Audi's torque-vectoring Sport differential, and active steering. We've driven the A7 extensively, and since the big hatchback shares its chassis with the A6, we have grounds for very high expectations.

Future models will include an entry-level, four-cylinder turbo (not for the U.S.); a long-wheelbase version produced and offered exclusively in China; and an S6, which will be powered by the same turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 soon to be found in the entry-level Bentley Continental GT. The Avant wagon will return, as well.

If the dull exterior doesn't completely put you off, you should be pleasantly surprised by the interior and the dynamic capabilities of the A6. We think the car’s prospects are shaping up well—if only we could say the same about the exterior.

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Old 12-01-2010, 02:05 PM   #2
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It looks fine to me. i'm guessing still no MT though.
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Old 12-01-2010, 03:45 PM   #3
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Less weight, (still with) direct injection. I approve of the concept although you won't catch me in a VWAG product any time soon.
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Old 12-01-2010, 06:40 PM   #4
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The hybrid variant sounds efficient...but I would never get a FWD Audi...kind of defeats the point. I'd love to see a 2.0L turbo A6 with the return of a 6MT.
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Old 12-01-2010, 07:12 PM   #5
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I always see comments about how bland Audi's look, but to me they are the best looking car in their class.
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Old 12-01-2010, 11:21 PM   #6
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Nice. I love the front end but I would love to see flares over the wheels like they used to have. That rear quarter panel looks bland as is.
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Old 12-02-2010, 10:36 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Stanley View Post
I always see comments about how bland Audi's look, but to me they are the best looking car in their class.
The A6 is bland... Only the RS6 makes it worthy to look at (exterior wise).
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Old 12-02-2010, 11:56 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by BigElm View Post
The A6 is bland... Only the RS6 makes it worthy to look at (exterior wise).
I suppose one person's bland is another person's classy. It's a very subjective metric.
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