Throw a dart at the list of mid-size luxury cars and it would be tough, if not impossible, to hit the name of a car that is not exceptional. One of our favorite brands in that segment is Audi ? we like the design, the copious use of turbochargers and supercharges and especially the quattro all-wheel drive.
There are five Audi models on the mid-size list including the A6, A7, S6, S7 and RS7. The 7 series cars all have slick-looking four-door coupe lines and a hatchback, while the A6 and S6 are traditional sedans. The 2014 Audi A6 2.0T quattro Tiptronic recently spent a week in our garage. In case you are not familiar with the Audi nomenclature, that means it had the 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine, with quattro all-wheel drive and eight-speed automatic transmission with manual shifting capabilities on the steering wheel and at the shifter.
Audis are noted for their excellent interior and exterior design, and the new A6 is another variation that reinforces that perception. The newest exterior design is evolutionary maintaining the distinctive clean Audi family look from the trapezoidal grille back to clean rear end topped off by a small spoiler lip. The new generation A6 employs Audi ultra-lightweight technology with extensive use of aluminum body panels to reduce weight and increase efficiency. The A6 also has a lightweight chassis that helps produce superior ride quality, handling and driving dynamics.
While many mid-size cars with four-cylinder engines seem lethargic, the 210-hp TFSI turbocharged four-cylinder in the A6 is quite spunky accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in 7.4 seconds. Our experiences with other variations of this engine have left us thinking that Audi might use bigger and more powerful horses than other brands. The additional benefit of this engine and transmission combination is the fuel economy, which is listed at 20 mpg city, 29 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined. We actually averaged 25.7 mpg during a week of mixed driving.
The Premium Plus trim level , which we drove, has an extensive list of features like Xenon headlights, MMI? navigation, keyless start and parking system. It comes with two other engine choices in addition to the four-cylinder turbo. The optional gas engine is the powerful 310-hp supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 and the other option is a 240-hp diesel TDI 3.0-liter V-6. The obvious advantage of the diesel is the 24 mpg city, 38 mpg highway and 29 mpg combined fuel economy along with a 5.5-second 0 to 60 mph time. The engine produces an amazing 428-lb.ft. of torque.
The top model, the Prestige adds all the gee-whiz technology like adaptive Xenon headlights, blind spot monitoring and tons of other luxury and MMI Navigation with a cool touch handwriting technology that allows you to spell out commands with your finger on a small pad on the console. The Prestige raises the ante to $58,795.
The lower level Premium is well equipped with standard features like leather seating, heated seats in front, the MMI radio system, Bluetooth and many other luxury features. The Premium has the excellent four-cylinder turbocharged engine, but with front-wheel drive and a continuously variable transmission. The Premium is an excellent value with a starting price of $43,995, including the destination charge, for those buyers who want the comfort and styling of the A6 and doesn?t need the advantages of quattro.?However, living in an area where the roads are often wet and occasionally snowy, we?d insist on the quattro. It is a great safety feature that not only provides excellent traction, but it improves handling. Even on dry roads it has desirable handling advantages.
Shoppers who want even better performance will want to step up to the S6 with its 420-hp, supercharged 4.0-liter V-6. It?s capable of a 4.5-second 0 to 60 mph run, and has a top track speed limited to 155 mph. Of course it costs more; the starting price is $74,295.
Audi?s infotainment system, Audi connect?, is standard on V-6 engine models and an option on the four-cylinder versions. The award-winning system was the first to offer factory-installed in-vehicle connectivity for passenger use for up to eight wireless devices. The navigation system is especially noteworthy, because you are actually seeing Google satellite photos with the streets imposed on the photos. It?s amazing to see the actual buildings and geography. Audi connect also features real-time local weather, news and fuel prices. Then there is Google Voice? which gives the vehicle quick access to restaurant and hotel information.
The Audi A6 2.0T quattro Tiptronic is an extremely smooth and comfortable sedan, while maintaining enough performance and roadability to still be entertaining to drive. We?d love to have this one, or the diesel version residing permanently in our garage.