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Expert Reviews 1 of 6
By Jim Flammang
February 27, 2002
Vehicle Overview Still offered as a sedan or an A6 Avant wagon, Audis midsize model sees some sheet-metal revisions for 2002, along with a new transmission choice. A 3.0-liter V-6 replaces the 2.8-liter engine in the base 3.0 model, while the A6 2.7T continues to carry a turbocharged V-6 and the A6 4.2 packs a 4.2-liter V-8.
The A6 can have front-wheel drive, but most are equipped with Audis quattro permanently engaged all-wheel-drive system. FrontTrak front-wheel-drive models can have the new multitronic continuously variable transmission (CVT), which yields greater fuel economy. A new Sport mode is available on the Tiptronic automatic transmission.
Audi Telematics by OnStar, an adaptation of GMs OnStar communication system, will be standard on Audis 2.7T and 4.2 sedans and optional on the base model, starting in January 2002.
A new high-performance S6 Avant wagon joins the 2002 lineup and comes with a 340-horsepower, 4.2-liter V-8 engine and a dual exhaust system. The Tiptronic automatic transmission operates with steering-wheel controls. Special features on the S6 include a sport suspension, 17-inch Avus alloy wheels, an in-dash six-CD changer and gray birch wood interior trim.
Audi is the luxury division of Volkswagen, and about 80 percent of U.S. sales have been quattro all-wheel-drive models.
Exterior Smooth, flowing lines were part of the picture when the A6 debuted in 1998. Front-end styling was revamped for 2000 to accommodate a new V-8 engine. Freshening for 2002 includes a new front end and headlights, new bodyside moldings and a revised rear end. Clear glass headlights are new, and high-intensity-discharge headlights are an option (they are standard on the S6 Avant). The grille on the 3.0 and 2.7T sedans now extends to the bottom of the hood, and outside mirrors are bigger for 2002.
Measuring 192 inches from bumper to bumper, the A6 is about the same size as the Acura TL and just a hair longer than the Lexus ES 300. Riding a 108.7-inch wheelbase, the sedan is 71.3 inches wide and 57.2 inches high. A sport suspension with 17-inch wheels is optional for the 2.7T and 4.2 models.
Interior Audi buyers expect elegance in the passenger space, and they get it with the A6, coupled with ample space for five adults. Wood trim on the doors, center console and dashboard adds a touch of warmth. New door seals and thicker window glass should keep the cabin even quieter than before. Leather upholstery is standard in the 4.2 and S6 and comes as an option in 3.0 and 2.7T models.
Trunks in the front-drive sedans have a capacity of 17.4 cubic feet, but space dips to 15.4 cubic feet in models equipped with quattro all-wheel drive. The cargo floor is wide and reaches well forward, and the opening is large enough to load bulky items with ease. In addition, the rear seatback folds for additional space.
Under the Hood In Audis model scheme, the engine size designates the model name. The base 3.0 sedan uses a new 3.0-liter V-6 that produces 220 hp a 20-hp increase from the 2.8-liter engine it replaces. The A6 2.7T holds a 2.7-liter V-6 with dual turbochargers, which cranks out 250 hp. Topping the line, the A6 4.2 is equipped with a 300-hp, 4.2-liter V-8 the same engine used in the larger A8 sedan. When installed in the high-performance S6, the 4.2-liter V-8 develops 340 hp.
Transmissions vary with the engine. A five-speed Tiptronic automatic and a new Sport-mode setting goes into the 3.0 sedan. Audis new multitronic continuously variable transmission has no conventional gears and is optional on front-drive models. A six-speed-manual gearbox is standard in the 2.7T, and a five-speed-automatic is optional. Only the five-speed-automatic is offered in the 4.2 sedan and the high-performance S6.
Audi says the new gearless multitronic transmission has the equivalent of almost double the gear-ratio range of a conventional automatic and is the first use of a CVT with a larger engine. A six-position manual mode is included, to give a feel similar to that of a gear-type transmission, but its essentially an illusion created by software programming.
Safety Like other Audis, the A6 offers an abundance of safety features. Side-impact airbags are standard for the front seats and optional for rear occupants. Curtain-type airbags deploy along the side windows during side-impact collisions to protect the heads and upper bodies of all outboard passengers. Antilock brakes are also standard.
Driving Impressions Audis newly available multitronic transmission works with satisfying subtlety, delivering a smooth and steady speed increase with no gear changes. Because the engine is quiet, you dont keep listening for a shift to occur, as is the case with some CVT units. Even better, the A6 with CVT responds eagerly to a touch of the gas pedal. Though it is a clever innovation, the manual mode isnt especially appealing after trying it out a few times.
Any A6 feels relatively heavy, but its a sensation of substance. Steering response is quick and precise but not like that of a smaller car. A person could hardly ask for more in comfort or anything beyond the A6s smooth yet tautly secure ride. Quietness is hard to beat, and the 4.2-liter V-8 engine with Tiptronic unleashes plenty of available power. Overall, the A6 is a super road car that also excels in performance.