Redesigned for 2005, Audi's A6 sport sedan resembled its predecessor but featured a bold, squarish grille. Available with V-6 or V-8 power, this was the first Audi with optional adaptive headlights that swivel to improve night views on twisty roads. Quattro all-wheel drive is standard.
Inside, the driver uses an electrohydraulic parking brake. The Multi Media Interface system features a 7-inch color display screen. Optional keyless entry provides electronic access, unlocking the door as it's pulled. Light and rain sensors and a tire-pressure-monitoring system are standard.
Audi's multitronic continuously variable transmission has returned on a new A6 3.2 FSI sedan with FrontTrak front-wheel drive. An Avant 3.2 wagon with a Tiptronic transmission and quattro all-wheel drive is also new for 2006.
S-line series sedans with a sport suspension and 18-inch wheels are available for the 2006 model year. Bose surround sound is standard on the A6 4.2 sedan. Heated front seats are standard on 3.2 Avant and 4.2 models. Adaptive Cruise Control and an adaptive air suspension are optional.
People are likely to focus first on the A6's large trapezoidal grille. The sedan has an upswept shoulder line and what Audi calls a "curved dome" in the middle of the hood. Wraparound taillights and a horizontal chrome trunk strip are installed. Alloy wheels hold 16-inch tires on V-6 models and 17-inchers on cars equipped with quattro or the V-8 engine. Wagons can have a tailgate that opens at the push of a button.
Each model holds five people on leather seating surfaces. Controls on the wide center console face slightly toward the driver. A large tachometer and speedometer are installed, and the four-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel features a trapezoidal center design that mimics the grille.
Automatic climate control is standard. Trunk volume totals 15.9 cubic feet. With the rear seats folded down, the wagon holds 58.6 cubic feet of cargo. Options include a DVD-based navigation system.
Under the Hood
Audi's 4.2-liter V-8 produces 335 horsepower and 310 pounds-feet of torque, versus 255 hp and 243 pounds-feet in the 3.2-liter V-6. Both engines team with a six-speed-automatic transmission that incorporates Tiptronic for manually selected gear changes. Permanent quattro all-wheel drive is standard, except in the FrontTrak CVT sedan with front-wheel drive.
Sideguard head-curtain airbags, side-impact airbags and active front head restraints are installed. Audi's Electronic Stability Program is standard. Antilock brakes include electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist.
Confident handling and sure-footed all-wheel drive are the A6's strongest attributes. The car doesn't qualify as a powerhouse, but acceleration is quite satisfying with the V-6. Paying more for a V-8 permits full-bore takeoffs, accompanied by a richer exhaust note. The A6 is quiet, but not eerily silent.
The automatic transmission responds promptly and effectively with either engine and delivers a civilized experience. The taut suspension reacts promptly but not excessively. It can cope with most road roughness, but the ride can become bouncy through harsher stretches.
The supportive, firm seats are on the hard side, and visibility over the left shoulder is limited. Most controls are satisfactory, but Audi's MMI setup is still too complicated and the display screen isn't in the driver's line of sight.