Reviews

2013 Audi A6 Driving Impressions


The 2013 Audi A6 offers two powertrains, a 2.0 turbo and a newer 3.0 supercharged V6. The new S6 features a 420-hp twin-turbocharged V8 that replaces the old naturally aspirated V10. It's all about efficiency, now.

Audi's 2.0-liter turbo engine found in the A6 2.0T is certifiably smooth and relaxed at 80 mph, and is a fine choice if you're content with 211 horsepower. The CVT might not perform as well as the Quattro version with the 8-speed automatic transmission, but it's the best choice for fuel economy. And it costs about $8000 less.

The supercharged V6 in the 3.0T feels like the perfect midsize luxury car engine. All the speed you need, smooth acceleration and a nearly seamless 8-speed transmission. Fuel economy isn't bad, either with an EPA-estimated 19/28 mpg City/Highway, although we got a spectacular 31.6 mpg running with the cruise control set at 72 mph, on premium fuel. Puttering around town, we dropped as low as 16 mpg.

You can drive the A6 in a racy manner without holding back, assuming you know what you're doing and are doing it safely. The unibody chassis is stiffer and lighter, with aluminum hood, front fenders, and suspension bits; and things like laser welds between the roof and side panels make a difference in rigidity. The Servotronic steering is electromechanical and speed sensitive, meaning it gets more precise as the car goes faster.

The versatile suspension stays flat and with you all the way. Our A6 was equipped with the optional Sport Package, including 19-inch wheels with summer performance tires and firmer suspension tuning. Over speed bumps and sharp edges at slower speeds, the ride can surprise you with a small shot now and then, but over unsmooth pavement at 50 mph there's no discomfort.

Quattro all-wheel drive seamlessly shifts power between the front and rear wheels according to the available grip. While cruising on the highway, the front/rear power distribution is split 40/60, but depending on traction demands it can vary from 15/85 to 70/30.

Drive Select, a standard feature, allows the driver to select from four modes (Comfort, Auto, Dynamic, Individual) that adjust the transmission, power steering and engine to alter shift points, steering boost and throttle response. With this many options, one of them will be just right for what you're after.

The S6 is like an A6 on steroids. Its 420-hp twin-turbo V8 is strong and responsive, and the variable sport air suspension manages the S6's weight beautifully around corners. With its upgraded brakes, the S6 stops quickly.

Like the A6, the S6 also uses Drive Select. Around town, we recommend Comfort or Auto mode for the smoothest ride and best fuel economy (although we realize some would consider this a waste of the S6's potential). On city streets, we found Dynamic mode to feel twitchy, with jackrabbit-like acceleration and grabby brakes. On high-speed sweepers or twisty canyon roads, Dynamic mode was well-suited to the task. But it lacks the seamless refinement of the sport mode found on the BMW M5. We were fond of the Dynamic mode's enhanced exhaust note, however.

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