The second-generation A6 put Audi on the map, heralding the company’s arrival at the cutting edge of design. From 1997 to 2004, the A6 helped Audi establish a presence rivaling that of BMW and Mercedes in the driveways of affluent Americans, and yet another metallic-grey German midsize sedan was added to the “gotta-have-it” pantheon of American motoring.
Since then, Audi has skyrocketed, adding a dizzying array of vehicles to its lineup as it branched out into ever more niches, culminating in the launch of its mid-engined R8 supercar this year. The second A6 – code-named C5 – had a long run, spanning eight years of production with steady updates and a variety of engine choices, from small sixes to twin-turbo V8s.
So how does the new, third-generation A6 stack up against its standard-bearing predecessor? Well, Audi was smart enough not to tamper with a winning formula. Audi sets the bar pretty high for itself in the styling game, and somehow manages to top itself every time.
The new car, designated B6, is an evolution of the B5’s imposing profile. It’s instantly recognizable as an A6, and the “A-to-B” motoring crowd might not even notice the difference. But, as BMW did with the new X5, the A6’s strengths have been cranked up to eleven. It has the now-ubiquitous taller grille, and the squarish beltline has been emphasized even further. Otherwise, the silhouettes of the two generations are strikingly similar.
A more imposing look is complemented by larger wheel choices, one of which was fitted to our test car. Our A6 wore 19-inch deep-dish alloys with a BBS flavor to them, part of the “S-line” sport package. Incidentally, we became privy to the benefits of the A6’s wheel design through the misfortune of our video crew. During a running shot, the A6 struck a sewer grate on a parkway, seriously damaging the right-side tires and wheels. However, since the wheels are two-piece affairs, and only the lip was damaged, we are inclined to think it would be a much less expensive proposition to repair them. For the record, the car weathered the impact quite well, remaining maneuverable despite the sudden manifestation of golf ball-sized welts on two of its 19-inch Pirelli P- Zero Rosso tires.
You can also watch the 2007 Audi A6 Car Review Video on YouTube.
Until that inopportune event, the A6 had impressed staffers with a level of driving dynamics commensurate with its place in Audi’s lineup. Steering is sharp, although it takes a little getting used to. Most cars will more or less guide themselves back to center upon executing a turn of more than thirty degrees or so, but the A6 is more precise and can’t be ham-fisted – it will follow whatever path the wheel is on and must be guided in exacting fashion. After a few turns of overdoing it with too much turn-in, we adapted to the slow, deliberate style of movement that the A6 requires. Given that the Q7 we tested recently exhibited similar behavior, we’d assume it is somewhat of a family trait.
However, the most impressive thing about the A6 was its trunk. Yes, the trunk. We were able to stuff our road test editor in there without inconveniencing him too much (although he is only five-foot-six). It’s not extraordinarily wide, but it is almost unfathomably deep. It had that jaw-dropping, goofy shock value that is usually elicited by stupendous acceleration or a magical engine note. Really, it’s that big. The rear seats also fold down to form a vast slope of carpeted acreage. Barkley, our lanky video man, complained about the rear seats being small, but the car can house four normally sized adults comfortably. It’s an incredible machine for a family of that size, or for a couple that routinely carries other twosomes.
The rest of the A6 isn’t too shabby either. The 3.2-liter V6 is a version of the proven mill that resides in almost every Volkswagen and Audi product. Here it produces 255 horsepower and 243 pound-feet of torque. We didn’t test the A6’s 0-60 time, but we estimate it to be eight seconds or less. Midrange acceleration is good, and the engine does make enough noise when pushed that the A6 leaves a sportier impression than some of its leisurely-performing six-cylinder predecessors.
As with the Q7 (or any other German car), the purchase of an A6 requires an open-minded perusal of the options list. Our test car started at $45,100, but shot up to sixty with the addition of four packages (Technology, S-line, Convenience, and Premium), as well as a few assorted a la carte options like sport seats, premium leather, and upgraded paint. If you’re looking at Audi products to begin with, we’ll assume that you’re more Robb Report than Consumer Reports. Therefore, you won’t bat an eye at what it will cost to outfit what is already a very elegant and distinctive sedan.