2012 Audi A6
Starting MSRP $41,700–$49,900
Scheduled to hit the U.S. market in late summer or early fall of 2011, the 2012 Audi A6 is a complete redesign, the seventh generation of Audi's midsize car. Though it's also sold overseas as an Avant wagon, Audi will be importing only the sedan. A new hybrid and a performance-oriented S6 model are being considered for U.S. sale but haven't been committed. The A6's competitors include the BMW 5 Series, Cadillac CTS, Jaguar XF and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, among others.
The A6's styling has evolved, but it isn't dramatically different from the previous version, as it still bears a deeply plunging grille. The complex headlight clusters are more squat than before, and LED headlights are optional. LED running lights, previously separated from the clusters, are now integrated.
Likewise, the car's dimensions are similar: The wheelbase is close to 3 inches longer, and the car is a mere half-inch wider.
Increased use of aluminum has shaved more than 60 pounds off the car — impressive, because redesigns typically add weight rather than remove it.
Except for the trunk, which has grown to about 18 cubic feet, the interior volume is comparable to that of the previous generation. Standard leather seats are an advantage over some competitors, most notably BMW and Mercedes-Benz, which include vinyl seats in their base models.
The A6 adopts the latest version of Audi's Multi Media Interface multifunction controller, including MMI touch, which recognizes letters drawn on a touchpad. An associated LCD screen motors out of the center control panel to rest just above dashboard level but not high enough to block the driver's view. Options include Bose and Bang & Olufsen premium stereos and a head-up display that projects information on the windshield. Optional night vision is incorporated into this display. Google Earth navigation and Audi Connect telematics are additional options.
Under the Hood
Although Audi has two gasoline and three diesel engines for the A6 in Europe, the U.S. will start only with a 310-horsepower, supercharged gas V-6. The eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission teams with Quattro all-wheel drive.
Audi cites a zero-to-60 mph time of less than 5.5 seconds. The efficiency has improved, but mpg ratings aren't finalized as of this writing.
The A6 comes with two front, two front-seat-mounted side-impact and two side curtain airbags. As required of all 2012 models sold in the U.S., it has standard antilock brakes and an electronic stability system, which Audi has included for years.
Active safety features include a blind spot monitoring system and a collision avoidance system called "pre sense," which optionally uses radar and other sensors to detect a pending collision and intervene by warning the driver and then braking automatically. The Active Lane Assist feature, which nudges the car back into its lane if it strays, will be introduced but isn't available as of the A6's U.S. launch.
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