Audi A6 Personifies All-wheel Drive Luxury

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Physician's Money Digest, February15 2005, Volume 12, Issue 3

Classic cars typically adhere tosubtle evolutionary designchanges. With this in mind,Audi and other German automakersneed their stylists to lookahead at least 5 to 7 years. Engineersand stylists must project fashion andtechnology far into the future.

Sporty Sedan

Audi's new look for the A6 has anattractive, classic appeal. The styleremains distinctively Audi, as do themechanicals. The new A6 sports eithera 6- or 8-cylinder engine. All modelshave a 6-speed automatic transmissiondriving all four wheels constantly. Thisdistinctively sporty sedan is in aunique marketplace. Its principle competitorsare the Mercedes E-Class andthe Volvo S80.

The 4-valve, 3.2-liter V6 engine nowhas direct injection of gasoline right intothe combustion chamber. You will beseeing more direct injection vehiclessoon because they promote more thoroughcombustion, thereby offering morepower, better fuel economy, and fewerpollutants from the tailpipe.

Quattro-Ready

The 6-speed automatic is quick torespond to your foot. Power is dispersedto all wheels as traction allows.This gives the most definite bite whenyou launch the car on wet pavement.The all-wheel drive Quattro systembuilds confidence by how it holds theroad. You can feel the A6 build to thelimits of adhesion, allowing you themost driving control.

The standard stabilization programemploys brake assist to keep you in theturn you intended. The stabilizationprogram is transparent to the occupantsand they may never be aware that itkept them from making an unplannedtrip into the guardrail or another car.The fully independent suspension has alight, nimble feel that skillfully tracesthe contour of the roads.

Solid Body Parts

The best part of the A6 is the body,a splendid unitized structure. It addsso much to a car's quality when youstart with a robust central structure.The steering becomes more accurate,the driveline more responsive, the suspensionmore compliant, and even thebrakes much tighter.

How do you know the Audi A6 issuperior to BMW's new 5-Series? Justadd water. The rear-wheel drive 5-Series is no match for the all-weatherperformance that Quattro offers. Sure,rear-wheel drive is better than everthese days with a better-balancedstructure and even traction control,but it still isn't all-wheel drive.

Advanced Technology

Walk up to the driver's door andpull open the flush-mounted handlewith your fingertips. The door unlocksautomatically because you have theAdvanced Key option in your pocket.Once you are seated, simply press thestart button to fire up the engine, allwithout using any kind of apparent key.

The driver's area is somewhat of acockpit, inclusive of the center consoleand information panel. A large analogtachometer and speedometer dominatethe dashboard with a small informationscreen directly between bothgauges. We appreciate the fact thatAudi still gives an engine coolant temperaturegauge so you can see if yourengine is getting into trouble.

In front of the center console atlevel with the driver's gauges is a 7-inch color screen called the multimediainterface (MMI). It controls vehiclediagnostics, radio and CD functions,instrument cluster, climate control, andthe optional navigation and voicerecognition systems.

The voice recognition system canrecognize your telephone throughBluetooth and control the entertainmentand navigation systems as well.The MMI is not a touch screen; it hascontrols just behind the gearshift leveron the center console. The whole centerconsole is ingeniously designed toencourage your passenger to havesome control. The MMI is equally easyfor both driver and passenger to use.

On the four-spoke steering wheelare two thumb wheels at 9 and 3o'clock. When you are test-driving,you must try these scroll wheels, whichalso work as push buttons, to selectand initiate action. After about a halfhour of study we were able to work itall with great ease.

The interior is rich with textures,earth tones, and soft curves. The seatsare soft, firm, and comfortable. Orderthe Cold Weather Package and all fourseats are heated. You are likely to adda few thousand dollars' worth ofextras, such as a moon roof, tire pressuremonitors, navigation system, andsatellite radio. While you might be ableto get a basic V6 for about $40,000,you should expect to spend closer to$45,000 for all the goodies.

and Ashly Knapp are independent

research reporters and the founders of AutoAdvisor.com.

Jean Swenson