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The Audi A6 is a handsome, capable, luxurious sedan that still manages to get lost in the shadows. Not only does it face off against two of the toughest premium sedans ever to hustle down the Autobahn--the BMW 5-Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class--it also faces internal foes, in the form of the superlovely Audi A7 hatchback that's virtually identical aside from its skin, and the less expensive A4, which is nearly as roomy and much more affordable, as a purchase or a lease.
With the A6, Audi has a classic middle-child conundrum that it solves by lavishing lots of attention on it. It may look more pedestrian than the A7, but with the 2013 Audi S6 and its 420-horsepower turbocharged V-8 engine, seven-speed S tronic gearbox, and performance upgrades, excitement is just a tap-shift away. The cockpit of the A6 and S6 are clones of the A7 and S7, and that's a relief, with plenty of rich materials arranged perfectly in coordination with each other.
One of the best attributes of the 2013 A6 is its 310-horsepower supercharged V-6--matched with all-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission. A base front-wheel-drive model with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) and the 211-hp turbo four-cylinder engine is offered, but you should skip that. Thankfully this year there are also four-cylinder quattro models with the eight-speed automatic.
With its swept-back, more rear-biased sport-sedan look, the A6's silhouette does rob some interior space, feeling seemingly smaller than some other mass-market models that are roughly the same size. Interior space is excellent in front, but legroom can feel tight in back, and that middle space back there isn't adult-sized. That also makes the four-seat A7 and its practical hatchback cargo area, again seem more appealing.
The 2013 Audi A6 and S6 are very well-equipped at the base level, as luxury sedans. But it's the options for the lineup that will really impress passengers. From Google Earth maps, to in-car wireless Internet access, to an innovative system that lets you trace out letters with your finger, this lineup goes above and beyond with tech options. The A6 also offers all the active-safety features you'll find on its luxury peers from Mercedes-Benz and BMW--including front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, blind-spot monitors, a night-vision system, and a head-up display.
All that said, the A6 and its conservative style land in an odd place in the U.S. luxury market. With the A7, as well as style-conscious spinoffs like the Mercedes-Benz CLS and BMW 6-Series Gran Coupe, which offer nearly as much usability, the A6 and A7 have limited appeal among those who want to indulge yet not stand out.
- Strong performance (3.0T, S6)
- Great gas mileage (2.0T)
- Striking interior design
- Google Earth maps
- In-car wireless Internet
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- Nowhere near as appealing as the A7
- Somewhat numb steering
- Good for four, not five
- CVT base model