German automakers are famed for their styling philosophy for sedans: one shape, three lengths. It can be a sore point for cars like the Audi A6, which looks a lot like its smaller A4 stablemate, while skipping the ultrafabulous curves of its A7 sibling.
The A6 is good-looking, don't get us wrong. The sheetmetal's nicely contoured, the details are crisp, the profile is handsome. It's just a bit more ambivalent than those other Audis. With the A7, you get a styling statement; with the A4, you're co-opting more expensive cars.
The A6 simply executes its global mission, to be the executive four-door that sells en masse, around the world. Still, it stings that its signature nose-to-ground grille is becoming a meme around the industry, for better or worse. Not only that, the A6's signature sill line--the "tornado" line--has now been copied by automakers on cars as prosaic as a Hyundai Elantra.
The styling inside, though, remains singular. Audi succeeds in subduing the effect of many lines and textures better than any car company. The A6's overarching shapes are pleasant, and the concave door trim panels and boatlike dash line are handsome in a vintage way (just like they are on the Jaguar XJ and the Nissan Maxima). And the center-stack area is canted very slightly toward the driver, though not at all in a way that limits space.
All that said, the A6 interior has dozens of pieces, panel joints, air vents, and metallic trim, which can add up to a busy look in some combinations, although a clear control layout helps with that. The A6's instrument panel is slim and rather low, which means the optional navigation system's LCD screen must flip incongruously out of the dash. And Audi's signature red lighting doesn't always work with some of the more exotic interior treatments, like its layered-oak look.