Every 2012 Audi A6 has features expected in a $50,000 luxury sedan. It's the options that will stun your passengers, from in-car wireless Internet access to Google Earth street-level navigation.
Standard equipment on the base A6 Premium includes the usual power windows, locks and mirrors; cruise control; leather-trimmed seats; tilt/telescoping steering; 17-inch wheels; ambient lighting; three-zone automatic climate control; power front seats; a sunroof; pushbutton start; LED taillamps; AM/FM/XM/CD audio with a 6.5-inch LCD screen; and MMI, Audi's multi-media interface.
We've applauded and complained about MMI in the past, and it's not substantially different here from the system that rolled out two years ago. That update cured the knob-controlled system of its worst logic, but MMI remains a hybrid system of clicks, wheels and roller knobs that cuts down on the button count on the days, but requires several physical movements to accomplish what used to be a single tap. As an example, pushing a preset from the steering-wheel controls could be governed by one switch, but MMI forces drivers to press a mode button, then scroll down to a "presets" command, then choose a preset.
There's a secondary presets pane on the console that doubles as a writing surface, and it lets drivers enter destinations for the navigation in handwriting. Tapping a radio control really requires your attention to move to the console, which isn't an improvement, and it's easy to see all these systems being replaced by touchscreen LCDs with more highly evolved navigation. For now, it's a usable, complex mess--and it's mandatory on every A6.
The next step in the A6 equipment schema is the $4,220 Premium Plus package. All the Premium gear is standard, with the addition of a seven-inch color display; a CD changer (for anyone who still uses physical artifacts); 18-inch wheels and tires; HD Radio; front and rear parking sensors; real-time traffic data; and Audi Connect, an in-car wireless data service linked into T-Mobile USA, and free for the first six months. We've connected iPhones to the service with no issue and really, in similar systems from Ford, Chrysler and GM, the only issue is the network itself, with T-Mobile having a more limited footprint in America that Verizon or even AT&T, with which it's engaged in merger talks.
With the Plus package you'll also get Google Earth navigation, a stunning, simple add-on to conventional navigation that skips POI icons drawn by graphic artists and goes right to the Web titan for real-world pictures of the landmarks you're passing. Keeping in mind that Google Earth only reshoots every few months to more than a year, some landscapes won't appear exactly as they are today--but the backup plan of real-time traffic supplements that information nicely in case of roads damaged by storms, or disabled for construction. Audi's system also allows you to plan and send up to 50 destinations to the car's navigation system from a computer and Google Maps.
The last layer of features comes to the 2012 A6 in the Prestige package. For $6,880, Audi adds on distinct 18-inch wheels; four-zone climate control; adaptive headlights; LED interior lighting; a Bose speaker package; ventilated front seats; a power-adjustable steering column; cornering lights; and S-line cosmetic trim, including its own grille and bumpers.
Options on the A6 include heated rear seats and steering whee, in a cold-weather package, and an aweseom 15-speaker, 1300-watt Bang & Olufsen sound system with tweeters that rise out of the dash like Miracle-Gro mushrooms.Value is a serious concern with the A6. It barely stickers below $50,000, and fully trimmed Prestige models easily top $70,000.