- Strong performance (3.0T, S6)
- Great gas mileage (2.0T)
- Striking interior design
- Google Earth maps
- In-car wireless Internet
- Nowhere near as appealing as the A7
- Somewhat numb steering
- Good for four, not five
- CVT base model
Traditional looks disguise this Audi's brilliance: it's a blast to drive in either 3.0T trim or S6 spec.
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-hp turbo V-8, 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox, and performance upgrades, driving fun is just a paddle-shift away. The cockpit of the A6/S6 is a clone of that in the A7 and S7. That's a relief, as it houses plenty of lovely shapes and textures, arranged in perfect coordination.
One of the best attributes of the 2013 A6 is its 310-horsepower supercharged V-6--matched with an 8-speed automatic and all-wheel drive. 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.
The A6 has a swept-back silhouette styled to appear as if the car has rear-wheel drive. Interior space takes a hit. The back seat in the A6 feels smaller than the back seat in some rivals, though by cubic feet it's roughly the same. Space in front is expansive, but the back seat's leg room is tight and three adults across will be a tight fit. The A7, with its hatchback cargo area and four-seat configuration, has more appeal.
All A6 sedans come very well equipped, with the usual power features, leather, and high-power audio system. Options draw deeply from the tech well. In-car wireless Internet pumps in Google Earth maps into the navigation system. Active safety features include a rearview camera, parking sensors, night vision, blind-spot monitors, 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.