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Old 03-17-2011, 08:46 AM   #1
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Default Shopping Tools * Vehicle History Report Advertisement 2012 Audi A6 3.0 T

Audi’s diesel V-6 proves a terrific match for its delicious new mid-sizer

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In our first drive of the 2012 Audi A6, we did something a bit unusual. We said the A6 is “approaching perfection.” We don’t drop the P-bomb too often, because there is no such thing as the perfect car. A perfected car, on the other hand, is conceivable, and after driving the 2012 A6 again, this time in diesel-powered 3.0 TDI form, we’re even more convinced of Audi’s proximity to this goal. Even better, the company recently announced that the A6 3.0 TDI will come to the U.S. within the next 24 to 30 months.

Redesigned Diesel Engine
The A6 3.0 TDI’s 2997-cc turbo-diesel has been redesigned from the ground up. Weight drops by 11.5 percent (55 pounds) compared with the 2967-cc engine it replaces . Some 13 pounds were trimmed from the crankcase alone, which now is made from a high-strength cast iron, while sundry rotating parts have been lightened as well. Other changes include a redesigned drive system for the camshafts, as well as improvements to the common-rail injection system, intake and exhaust systems, the turbocharger, and the intercooler.

There will be two versions of the engine, with programming being the only difference. The conservative tune makes 204 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, with the more-powerful engine churning out 245 horses, its 369 lb-ft peaking at 1400 rpm. (The outgoing 3.0 as installed in our long-term Q7 TDI makes 225 hp and 406 lb-ft.) While both will be available in the A6, we sampled only the more powerful one, which is the one more likely to show up in the U.S. In Germany, this version of the engine will come standard with Quattro all-wheel drive and Audi’s new eight-speed automatic transmission, but the exact equipment plan for the U.S. has not been finalized. Thus equipped, the A6 proved plenty quick as we charged up and down the narrow, hilly roads around Sicily. Regardless of grade or elevation, the car gains speed forcefully, making almost no sound unless you absolutely hammer it. The turbo rush seems omnipresent, with virtually no lag.

Regardless of tune, the A6 3.0 TDI will not be slow: The more potent variant should hit 60 mph in 6.1 seconds, with the less-powerful version taking a still reasonable 7.2 seconds to achieve the same velocity. Top speeds are claimed to be 155 mph for the hi-po version, 149 for the other.
The supercharged, gas-powered A6 3.0 TFSI remains the more scintillating driver’s car, both from a character standpoint and by the numbers (we predict a 0-to-60-mph time of just 5.3 seconds ). A different set of numbers, though, does slightly enhance the diesel’s attractiveness: its fuel-economy advantage. While the EPA is yet to rate the 2012 A6 with any powertrain, the diesel six should better its gas counterpart by a few mpg in all conditions. We expect highway fuel economy to reach as high as 30 mpg, with the city figure coming in around 21.

Other A6 Attributes Just as Strong
Going diesel does not mean living with less. The car we drove had Audi’s Drive Select chassis-control system, which offers Dynamic, Auto, Comfort, and driver-customizable Individual modes. It will be standard on all gas-powered A6s in the U.S., but its inclusion on diesel cars here is TBD. Regardless of mode, Drive Select makes the A6 nearly impossible to upset. We do wish for more natural steering, but that is hardly a new complaint when it comes to Audis with this system.

Everything else that had us fawning over the A6 the first time we drove it remains, from its nifty optional LED headlights and gorgeous 20-inch wheels, to its incredibly well-designed interior. Even the unusual pinstripe-look layered-oak trim is growing on us. We won’t know how Audi will configure our A6 TDIs until closer to the car’s U.S. launch, but in Europe, its options list is just as long as that of the gas-powered cars. We can’t imagine Audi would hold anything back here.

Audi is mum on pricing for all A6 models, but company representatives tell us that the base, four-cylinder turbocharged A6 2.0 TFSI will come in “well below” our $52K estimate for the gasoline V-6–powered car. Both gas models will be introduced to the U.S. market later this year. When the oil-burning A6 finally arrives in 2012 or 2013, it should carry a premium of around $3000 over the gas-fired V-6 model, leaving spendier buyers with a daunting decision: the quiet, instant-on performance of the supercharged gas V-6, or the smooth, rushing torque and fuel efficiency of the diesel. A difficult choice like that is a good problem to have.
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