The 2012 Audi A6 is billed as a five-seat sedan, but its relatively skimpy trunk space and fifth-passenger space has us thinking most buyers will be better off with the four-seat hatchback version of the same running gear--the Audi A7.
The A6 rides on a wheelbase of 114.7 inches, identical to that of the A7, while its overall length of 193.9 inches is shorter than the A7 and its ride height almost two inches taller than the more sleek hatchback counterpart. There's a touch more headroom inside the A6 as a result, and up front, passengers will find lots of head, leg and knee room, though the A6's center console widens a bit and nibbles out a bit of the available space. The power front seats are exceptionally comfortable on long trips, and for those who notice protruding active headrests on some luxury cars, Audi's units recess for better neck comfort. Front seats are heated as well, and on the most expensive models, they're ventilated--a must in Sun Belt states.
The back seat and trunk create the biggest functional differences with the A7, at least on paper. We're not convinced the A6's rear bench would hold any third passenger comfortably, since it's raised on the transmission tunnel and since shoulder room isn't extravagant. Two six-foot passengers will have adequate room, though, with a bit of contact with the headliner and about an inch of knee room to go with roomy foot wells. The seats themselves hit a sweet spot for firmness, and the seatback angles a bit for touring comfort, but there's not a magnitude of difference back here from the sinuous A7. Entry and exit are better in the A6, for sure, with its taller doors and wider door openings.
Trunk space makes it clear. You can either settle for the 14.1 cubes in the A6's trunk, and deal with a fairly high load floor--or you can have about 25 cubic feet under the A7's hatchback. Both cars have fold-down rear seats to boost cargo capacity, and neither rear seat folds completely flat.
Small-item storage isn't lavish inside the A6. The armrest bin is shallow, and the glovebox runs lean, too. Door panels have molded-in spaces for water bottles, and twin cupholders sit just a bit back from the ideal spot. Audi's cupholders are sumo wrestlers, though--try to wedge in a couple of Starbucks tall lattes and the cupholders' tight packaging and strong tensors mean you'll pop the lid off every time. Considering Audi's vocally smug owner body, this oversight is bound to trigger J.D. Power IQS fails from day one.