By on December 30, 2011

“How ya gonna keep ‘em down on the farm after they’ve seen Paris?” So said the farmer to his wife about the chances that their sons would return home following the end of the First World War. The societal implications aren’t quite so large, but the same might be wondered about the redesigned-for-2012 Audi A6. Now that the sexy A7 is available, why get the staid sedan with which it shares a chassis, powertrain, and interior?

Exterior styling is far and away the largest difference between the A6 and A7. To craft a Mercedes CLS competitor out of the sedan, Audi more dramatically flared the wheel openings, removed the frames from the side windows, lowered the roof a couple of inches, and relaxed the arc of the roofline to flow it all the way to the rear of the car, creating a hatchback. None of the tweaks are eye-grabbingly radical, but together they do yield a considerably more stylish whole. The most beneficial tweak might be the upward sweep of the A7’s beltline over its rear wheel. There’s no such curve in Audi’s sedans, including the new A6, and the rear quarters appear less dynamic as a result. (Though there’s just enough metal between the rear wheel opening and beltline of the new A6 to avoid the poorly proportioned, pinched appearance of the current A8’s rear quarters.) This isn’t to suggest that the A6 is an unattractive car. It’s very tastefully styled and in aesthetic terms easily holds its own against the current BMW 5er and Benz E-Class. The problem is that we’ve now seen the A7. This makes Audi a serial offender: the A4 sedan doesn’t look so good once you’ve seen the related A5 coupe. On top of this, while I’ve never had an inherent problem with the “same sausage, different lengths” German design philosophy, and even believe that a high level of design consistency is good for a brand, the current trio of Audi sedans might carry this philosophy too far. They’re hard to tell apart at a glance.

Some interior details vary between the A6 and A7, but as with those that have too often been relied on to differentiate the sibs within GM’s litters they’re the sort of differences you’ll only notice when directly comparing the two cars. For example, the triangle of wood trim on the front doors has a high trailing point on the A7 but a low trailing point on the A6. Both interiors are attractive in the same tastefully restrained way, especially when fitted with the same trim options (such as the naturally finished wood trim on the tested A7 instead of the glossy timber on the tested A6). Both cars are available with the same impressive electronics, including a nav system that employs Google maps to display a satellite image of your location and front-and-rear obstacle detection systems that display the closeness of nearby objects by quadrant in addition to the typical beep.

Coupes that are more stylish than their sedan counterparts are far from new. But about 30 years ago manufacturers realized that they could craft sedans that looked and drove more like coupes, and coupe sales consequently plunged. Over the past decade there has been a mild revival in coupe sales, if we’re willing to grant that the Mercedes CLS and Audi A7 are “coupes” despite their rear portals. But why offer both a “four-door coupe” and a sedan? Ostensibly, for the same reason you’d offer both a coupe and a sedan: the latter will be roomier, easier to get in and out of, and altogether more functional. No problem here in the original Mercedes case: the first-generation CLS was certainly far less functional than the E-Class on which it was based.

The problem with the Audis—admittedly not a bad problem to have: the A7 isn’t significantly less roomy than the A6. The A7’s roofline might be a couple inches lower, but somehow headroom is only reduced by a few tenths up front and by less than an inch in back. Shoulder room and legroom similarly differ by only a few tenths of an inch. The A7 is also just about as easy to get in and out of as the A6. People getting into the rear seat don’t have to engage in contortions to avoid banging their head on the header. Once they’re ensconced, either car’s back seat is adequately roomy and comfortable. Nothing impressive, lest the A8 lose its raison d’etre, but little to complain about, either. The A7’s primary interior limitation is entirely artificial: there’s no center seating position. On the other hand, the A7 is actually the more functional car when cargo hauling is called for, given its large hatch.

If you’re not feeling much need for speed, and care more for keeping the initial outlay and fuel bills low, the A6 sedan is available with Audi’s ubiquitous 211-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. I actually requested an A6 with this engine, but none was available. So the tested A6’s four wheels, just like those in the A7, were driven by a 310-horsepower supercharged 3.0-liter V6. The supercharged six isn’t dripping with character even in 325-horsepower tune in the performance-oriented S4, and has even less personality in the A6/A7 application. But driving all four wheels through a ZF eight-speed manually-shiftable automatic transmission it certainly accomplishes the task of moving the car, feeling much more powerful than its official power ratings suggest in the process. Tipping the scales at just over two tons, the A6 3.0T is about 150 pounds lighter than the A7, and consequently might be a little quicker. Though the BMW 535i xDrive manages to point a little higher, the A6 3.0T’s EPA ratings of 19 city and 28 highway are nevertheless impressive given the car’s curb weight, performance, and all-wheel-drive (if far off the 2.0T’s almost shockingly good 25/33). The trip computer’s reports were in line with these ratings.

Much like its powertrain, the Audi A6’s chassis is supremely competent. Understeer creeps in later and less heavily than with older Audis and body motions are well controlled, with just a hint of bobble from time to time. Thanks to the all-wheel-drive system, even unwise throttle applications mid-turn don’t upset the car’s composure. The harder the sedan is pushed, the better it behaves, inspiring confidence. Within the segment, only the BMW arguably handles with as much precision and poise, and even the 5er now has less communicative steering. Compared to the A7, the A6 rode a little more smoothly, but how much of this was due to the lower profile tires on the former (265/35YR20 vs. 255/40YR19)? The A7’s optional sport suspension might be a little firmer than that in the A6, but the difference is not dramatic. Especially when so equipped neither car provides the sort of smooth, quiet, insulated ride you’ll find in a Lexus. Older A6s had higher interior noise levels, but the new ones continue to trail the ultra-low segment average. And yet, compared to the S4 with which they share an engine, both the A6 and A7 also feel considerably larger and much less overtly sporting. The A6 is about eight inches longer and nearly two inches wider than the S4, but it’s only about 200 pounds heavier, so the difference in driving feel isn’t entirely a matter of physics. One factor: the S4’s optional active rear differential isn’t offered in the A6 or A7. In either of them you’re clearly driving a largish four-door. Perhaps a more overtly sporty driving experience should have been part of the A7’s role. If so, consider this an opportunity lost. For better or worse, the A6 and A7 drive nearly the same. Competence to spare, but limited passion.

So far we’ve got no compelling reasons to buy the A6 instead of the A7 unless you’re a knuckle-dragger who believes hatchbacks are only suitable for subcompact economy cars. But how about this one: Audi charges over $7,000 extra for that fifth door. Equip an A7 like the $57,470 tested A6, and the sticker will read $64,845. How attractive does that A7 seem now? Should the A6 instead be seen as offering all of the goodness of the A7, save the sexy sheetmetal, at a considerably lower price?

Well, this depends on how the 2012 Audi A6’s price compares to those of its direct competitors. Equip a BMW 535i xDrive with everything on the tested Audi A6, and it lists for over $10,000 more. But it also includes more stuff because of how BMW packages features and options: things like power-adjustable seat bolsters, adaptive shocks, a power-adjustable steering column, and keyless access and ignition (a standalone option not on the tested Audi). Adjust for these using TrueDelta’s car price comparison tool, and the Audi’s price advantage shrinks to a mere $6,670. Skip the sport packages and this difference is cut in half (BMW charges much more for its more comprehensive package). No longer $10,000, but no matter how you slice it the Audi is considerably less expensive than the 5er as well as its prettier sister.

The usual caveat at this point: compared to anything German, you can spend a lot less by opting for something Japanese. Yet compare the Audi A6 to the Infiniti M37 and you’ll find that they’re within $1,000 of one another, with the modest advantage usually going to the Audi. In this light, the A6’s price seems very competitive.

Ultimately, it’s hard to find fault with the 2012 Audi A6 based on any objective criteria. It might not be as fun to drive along a winding road as an S4, but then no sedan with an adult-friendly rear seat is. The A6 3.0T’s engine is strong yet efficient. Its chassis handles with poise and precision while also riding fairly smoothly and quietly. Its interior is stylish and adequately comfortable, if short of luxuriously plush (that’s just not the Audi way). We’re back with the problem posed initially: the A7 performs the same, accommodates people about as well, accommodates cargo better, and has a sexier exterior. How, then, to get excited about the A6? We’re left with its much lower price, but how exciting is that? The A7 proves that it’s possible to offer a more stylish car with no significant tradeoffs. So why not do it? Or, taking a different tack, if you’re going to offer two models, why not style and tune the A7 to make it far edgier than the A6? One possibility comes to mind: even though it’s nearly as conservative as the A6, the A7 is just too sexy for too many luxury car buyers. After all, many doughboys DID return to the farm. For those luxury car buyers who cannot handle the sleek hatch (and those who simply don’t want to pay the excessive premium for it), the A6 does just about everything very well.

Audi provided the car with insurance and a tank of gas.

Michael Karesh operates, an online provider of car reliability and real-world fuel economy information.

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63 Comments on “2012 Audi A6 3.0T...”

  • avatar

    When you are talking $50-60K, $7K just is not a lot of money. A couple of option packages at most.

    I of course find it incredibly annoying that Audi is not bringing the A6 Avant to the US anymore. That is the only one worth having, IMHO. But a sloping hatch is better than no hatch at all. Sedans are just pointless.

    • 0 avatar

      I find Audi to be among the most overpriced vehicles, period, given their overall reliability, handling, comfort and performance characteristics, but my opinion is free, so treat it accordingly.

      When I bothered to price A4s and their S4 counterparts recently, sticker shock was the understatement of the millenia, viewed in isolation, and especially in comparison to almost all the competition, with similar equipment levels and performance characteristics.

      Let’s face it; while economies of scale make it smart and efficient for automakers to utilize shared platforms, motors and other major components across even a wide range of their brands, their is a definite premium in pricing that rises to the punitive level when precisely the same components are utilized in…say an Audi…as the same ones are used in their VW cousins. At that point, the aspirational buyer is making an emotional decision to pay a massive premium based on how well the up level brand can market differentiation in badge image, more standard equipment and available options, more finely honed interior trim, some added sound insulation and prettier/more aggressive exterior aesthetics.

      Jeremy Clarkson strikes a similar chord when he rags on Richard Hammond’s affinity for all things Porsche when he refers to even the 911 as a “Beetle” (not that he’s an authority, but given the common thread running through VW-Audi-Porsche, I find it humorous nonetheless – and his insult is not remarking on performance necessarily, but pedigree, AFAIK, although Porsche has certainly suffered some black eyes in the quality control department lately, IMS bearing failures, other mechanical land mines, and denial of warranty claims for even non-tracked cars notwithstanding).

      And from personal experience, I would like to mention that we have owned a VW with the Audi-shared 2.0T motor used in the A4 as well as the Passat, and it was a unmitigated POS, with the most number of mechanical problems of any vehicle we’ve ever owned, but that the salt was rubbed in MY wounds when the dealer service manager informed me in a very matter of fact tone that it was perfectly normal for the motor to burn 1 quart of synthetic oil every 1000 miles, which it was doing for an extended period of time (before we bailed on the vehicle at a steep loss; and we maintained/serviced the vehicle by the book, after having purchased it new).

      But hey, lots of people are apparently falling under Audi’s seemingly magical spell, as Audi is on a huge roll, banking average transaction prices and profit margins way above any competitor that I can think of, with the potential exception of BMW (and I won’t even go there, because that’s a different story for another comments section)

      • 0 avatar

        I can fully understand why people like driving newer Audis. Most buyers of the A4 and up, come from a history of smaller FWD cars, and are more used to the somewhat nose heavy handling characteristics of Audis, than the RWD dynamics that enthrall journalists to Bimmers. In many ways, big Audis with Quattro drives like some imaginary expertly tuned FWD that doesn’t torque steer.

        Especially once traction gets more limited, the way quattro equipped Audis drive, is a lot more predictable than the way Bimmers do.

      • 0 avatar

        Agreed on Audi. Their ‘premiumness’ seems to be based almost entirely on marketing. I think more favourably about BMW. Despite the fact that you pay a pretty penny for them, at least they actually do strive to consequently offer a USP in driving dynamics. Yes, they’ve lost focus a bit over the last few years but if you buy their core products like the 3 and 5 series, you get a class leading product IMO. The spirit of the great BMWs of the past is still in there somewhere, and I don’t think the competition does any better.

        How much you should be willing to pay extra for those qualities is of course debatable.

      • 0 avatar

        @ DeadWeight –

        The first generation 2.0T had a great number of problems, no doubt about that. I can vouch for it personally: failing PCVs, coolant flanges that cracked, diverter valve failures, HPFP/cam follower / cam shaft failures, AC compressor failures – you name it, the 2006 – 2008.5 model years had it all. Thankfully, Audi has stepped up to the plate and now has extended the warranty on many of those components to 10 years/120,000 miles.

        The second generation 2.0T that debuted in 2008.5 with the chain driven timing belt is years ahead of the first gen model. The third generation 2.0T which is in the works is an even further refinement of the same basic design to reduce complexity and also to chiefly deal with the carbon buildup issue on the valves that is due to the direct injection system. The 3rd gen model is purported to use a dual-direct injection system that will be able to wash a small amount of fuel over the valves to eliminate carbon.

        The new MLP product (A4, A5, A5 Sportback, Q5, A6, A7, A8) have shown themselves to be *substantially* more reliable than the products they replaced. I have a few friends with the B8 A4 from the ’09 model year and so far they’ve been flawless for them. The big issue with the V6s was a batch of bad water pumps that would grenade within the first 10,000 miles or so, but those have all been recalled, IIRC.

        As usual when it comes to German cars, they tend to be a labor of love that ain’t for everyone. I’d be lying if I said I’m 100% satisfied with my ’06 A3, but I’ve really enjoyed the car and I also have a fantastic dealership that has gone above and beyond to minimize the financial pain since I’ve been out of warranty. The old saying is true: salesmen sell the first car but the service department gets you to come back for the second one.

      • 0 avatar


        I have to say your comments seem entirely dated. If you read the review here you might begin to understand why.

        Dynamically the new A6 is superior to the BMW. So there goes the main reason most people would buy a BMW over an Audi. It’s clear the Audi has the far better interior, it’s been that way for a long time. SO what exactly are you commenting on here? That you are married to your old stereotypes and biases?

        It’s so easy to make sweeping statements without anything to back them up. You’re certainly entitled to your opinions but everything I just read from you seems derived from bias rather than fact.

        Things change.

      • 0 avatar


        Some things change, but Audi’s FWD (biased) chassis don’t and their design doesn’t either. Light clusters are more or less similar front and back, there’s always the rather big front overhang due to the FWD (based) chassis that also still makes them frontheavy and understeery (even the S4 with its trick differential that was supposed to end that), and all the sedans have that extra window behind the rear door that looks tired IMO.

        In terms of the interiors Audi had an edge 10 years ago and what’s changed is they don’t have that edge anymore. Some of their interior bits are nicer than BMW/MB and some are worse. Overall I wouldn’t rate Audi’s interiors better than either of those two anymore. In fact concerning the A4/5, I think the facelifted C-Class and the new 3 series offer better interiors.

        10 years ago I would have at least considered an A4 over an E46 and 5 years ago I would have chosen an A6 Avant over an E61/W211, but since Audi hasn’t changed and the other Germans have caught up while still offering their old core values Audi can’t hang with. I think the fact that the Audi sedans are still more noisy than either BMWs and Mercedes is yet another testament to their lack of real ‘substance’ as a luxury brand.

        And btw concerning this lil gem here “I have to say your comments seem entirely dated. If you read the review here you might begin to understand why.”

        I’ve read the review, thx. It’s a little ironic you’re talking about biased generalising statements without substance considering these kind of remarks you’re making. From your comment I just read an uncalled for personal slight and some generalising statement about ‘Audi interiors rule supreme, yo!’. Maybe you can point out to me how exactly it is clear that Audi has superior interiors? Cause to me it really isn’t.

  • avatar

    I would agree that the A4/6 model resemblance has gone too far. I saw one in traffic a few weeks ago and thought it was an A4 until I saw the A6 badge. I would also say that the A6 looks even more conservative in person than it does in pictures.

    • 0 avatar

      I must admit to being a little surprised by these photos when selecting them for the review. The A6 does look better in them than I recall it looking in person. The whole week I had the car I kept thinking about how boring it looked. Didn’t have this problem the week I had the A7.

      • 0 avatar
        Byron Hurd

        When I see the A7 head-on or from any angle that involves the rear end, the last thing that comes to mind is “too sexy.” That ass is dumpy, and the front just doesn’t know what it’s doing.

        A5 Sportback though.. now we’re talking.

      • 0 avatar

        I think the conservative profile is terrific for the buyer who wants the luxury but doesn’t require the “look at me” nods. The styling is slightly more aggressive in front with the grille and LEDs (still nobody doing these nearly as tastefully as Audi). Also love the lower belt line vs most new designs, it looks like you could actually turn around and see out the rear window, which is becoming more and more rare these days. The interior is a perfect 10, and and Michael didn’t even discuss the incredible LED in the instrument panel which I’ve seen in other reviews. The bottom line trade off is more functionality at the expense of exterior styling. This thing seems to be an ideal commuter car. Great review Michael, loved the angle you approached it from comparing to the 7.

        Also loved the comparo to the 5er, but no mention of the Eclass, which seemingly is becoming a distant third along with much of MB’s lineup. I still shudder at the horrific tech in the MB sedans, as noted in the recent CLS review.

    • 0 avatar

      This happened to me too, and I like to think I know about these things. A8 doesn’t stand out either, despite it’s size.

    • 0 avatar

      Heh, at least they don’t sell an A4L here or it’d be near impossible to tell. Even in China they don’t bother to sell the regular length A6.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree completely, but there is one thing that Audi does right, IMO. It’s that if you take the badges off of almost any Audi there is, any casual observer, even those who aren’t car fans, will still be able to tell that it’s an Audi. Can’t say the same for Lexus, Acura, and many more recent Benzes. Germans are the king of “one sausage, three different lengths” because it’s what’s always worked for them.

      This recent A4/6/8 generation, though, is pretty bad about it. Even the newest 5/7 series (and the upcoming 3-series) are fairly easily distinguishable.

      The A7 is certainly much nicer looking. Still a pity that we don’t get the A5 sportback, too.

  • avatar

    Great review.

    I like the way the A6 looks better than the A7, so there’s that.

    It might not be as fun to drive along a winding road as an S4, but then no sedan with an adult-friendly rear seat is.


    • 0 avatar

      The Panamera isn’t a sedan. But it does prove that a large car can feel agile.

      Some people might also argue that a CTS-V has an adult-friendly backseat, though it’s certainly not competitive with the 5-Series/A6 in this area. It drives larger than an S4, but it’s at least as much fun.

      By and large, though, even the best midsize sedans are much less fun to drive than those a size class down.

      • 0 avatar

        I’d be very surprised if the Pan is not primarily shopped as a sedan. For those seeking a coupe (man, I hate that term for 4 door cars), P has plenty of more attractive (literally) offerings.

        Also, please don’t give VW honchos any more reasons to pick Audi for designing future large, sporty car chassis, over Porsche. The Pan is sublime (if overpriced); and the way large, fast, performant cars should be built. Man, just imagine an A4 sized Panamera derivative, with an engine commensurate with it’s price…:)

  • avatar

    I’m not really enthused about the upward sweep of the beltline, or the raked rear window, no matter how much it improves the exterior styling. It makes the rear window virtually useless, and it tends to get dirty faster. No wonder the feds are considering mandatory back-up cameras. Another effect of coupe styling in a sedan is the small size of the trunk lid. The trunk itself may be large, but try wrestling a large suitcase into the opening. If Audi really wanted to differentiate the A6 from the A7, they should have made the former with sedan functionality.

    • 0 avatar

      Good point. I argued in the review that, with two cars, they needn’t have made the A7 as conservative as they did. By the same logic, though, they could have made the A6 even more conservative. But if they’d made the rear seat and trunk better, then what would be the point of the A8?

      • 0 avatar

        The elephant in the room, M5?

      • 0 avatar

        I have two old A4s and an old A6 – the latter a 2002. With a quick glance, I can barely tell the difference between the A6 and A8, although my bank account would. I am not even sure that the A8 is more spacious than the Merkur Scorpio I owned – the Scorpios were by God hatchbacks with a long stretch back seat. How is it that a quarter century later, no car gives me the 5 door hatch functionality of the Scorpio or for that matter the 3 door functionality of my old 99EMS?

      • 0 avatar

        The above-discussed A7 does give you the hatchback combined with the interior room of the Scorpio. A little bit larger, but most cars have grown that much in the past two decades.

        In Europe there would be rather more choices …

  • avatar

    having been in both cars, I can honestly say that I hate the A7. The headroom in the back is less. I know it’s not much less ,but it’s noticeably less and when sitting in the back, it makes the car feel cheaper. The rear visibility out of the car is also hamstrung by the rear end, and I don’t like it one bit. You better pony up for the rear view camera and the blind spot detection system, you’ll need them.

    Now let’s talk about the price difference, which is obscene considering all you get for it is an aesthetic treatment. for the A7 premium, I’m most of the way to an S6. Which would you rather have?

  • avatar

    A7 look stunning. BMW ought to be taking cue from A7 for next generation 5 GT. A7 simply makes 5 GT looks like an Aztek.

  • avatar

    Put me on the list of folks who prefer the A6 to the A7. I’ve seen the two of them next to each other at the local Audi dealer, and I prefer the A6’s looks from the front and rear.

    The CLS has a considerably nicer interior than the E-class, which sort of makes up for the price premium. The A7 really doesn’t. The strip of wood on the dash extends all the way to the passenger door in the A7, it does not in the A6. That’s about the extent of the difference.

    I think Audi should’ve been more daring with the A7, rather than use it to try to appeal to A6 Avant buyers. I think those buyers will just buy an E350 wagon instead.

    Mike, how would you compare the seats in the A6 to the 5 series?

  • avatar

    Looks like a good car,
    but I am wondering, everybody is using turbo engines now (BMW,Audi,VW ), how long the turbo last? What is the reliability of turbo engines?

    • 0 avatar

      This car is supercharged rather than turbocharged. But either way failures seem to be rare before 120k miles, and not large enough sample sizes after that point.

      You can scan the repairs that have been reported through TrueDelta’s Car Reliability Survey here:

    • 0 avatar

      An “T” or “S”…alphabet soup of letters and number that don’t represent anything on the car. But that was a nice example when customers get confused.

  • avatar

    I, too, prefer the A6 to the A7. The A6 looks like it belongs to a responsible adult — a doctor, or a lawyer. They don’t need flashy sheet metal to tell the world they’ve made it. Too much flash makes a car look like it belongs to the pop star of the week. This is like the difference between a Buick and a Cadillac used to be back in the olden days.

  • avatar

    I love the A6, have for some time. But when I price one out equipped the way I want, I get north of $70K and I just can’t justify it.

    If I’m to to $70K, I’ll go CTS-V wagon.

  • avatar

    I don’t see myself ever buying an Audi. In fact, when I get into conversations about cars with people and “Audi” comes up, I simply cannot comprehend why they want one so badly. My first experience with a German sedan was my old Boss’ Audi A8 back in 2005 while I was working Investments/Loans. I thought it was the coolest car ever…until I leased a Benz which had more interior space, a nicer body and even more technology. The last Generation Audi looked better. The newer ones, with the exception of the A7, look like 5-minute reskins.

    I’ve been on the road next to a bunch of A6’s and A7’s. I’ve even seen A7’s popping up at my local used car dealership. They are nice, but, they definitely aren’t big enough inside and no one actually “loves” these cars. Once the new model comes out, people just dump em for a new one (around here anyway).

    • 0 avatar

      “I’ve even seen A7′s popping up at my local used car dealership.”

      I’m going to go ahead and call BS on that one. Audi has no cars on the lots these days due to China. They only imported 3,000 A7s to the US in all of 2011.

  • avatar

    Nice for a Volkswagen.

  • avatar

    Propaganda: I’ll take a more stylish 2011-2012 Volvo S80 T6 AWD (300HP, 325LB of torque) with a proper inline six and add the Inscription Leather package and the soon to be released PoleStar tune to take it to 325HP and 354LB of torque while retaining the factory warranty. It will outlast any VAG product.

    • 0 avatar

      S80 is more stylish than what? A cinder block? “Stylish Volvo” is like military intelligence. I’m sure Stasis can take the A6 to 410HP and 370LB.Ft while retaining the factory warranty. Nice try.

      When it comes to performance and handling, the S80 can’t cut it. The S60 can’t touch the F30 3 series, and the S80 can’t touch the F10 5 or the C7 A6. That’s probably why Volvo has sold like 12 of them.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s not clear yet how reliable current Volvos will be in the long-term. But the most troublesome cars in TrueDelta’s Car Reliability Survey are decade-old Volvos.

      • 0 avatar

        Audi owners themselves are admitting they can’t tell A4-A6-A8 apart – ‘NUFF SAID. BTW SURE isn’t the same as CAN and I doubt a VAG engine pushed greatly beyond its factory performance perimeters will last more than 50K miles. Hell the stock 3.6 Liter V6 has been flying apart (literally!) at a unbelievable rate – spend sometime on VWVORTEX if you don’t believe me. Scour YOUTUBE and you will see videos slightly modded turbo VAGS throwing rods on the regular.

        The S60 is SELLING VERY WELL and TRACK NUMBERS usually show it exceeding the equivalent performance of a BMW 3 series on a dollar per dollar basis – POINT BEING you have to buy a significantly more expensive BMW or Audi class per class to equal performance of a Volvo S80 T6 or S60 T6/R-Design and only a fool needlessly parts of their hard earned money and America has plenty of fools – hence the VAG product sales levels!

        Need your forget VW had to do some significant COST CUTTING of the PASSAT and the JETTA to get a sale bump because its “German values” didn’t compute otherwise.

        Ever noticed how CHEAP you can buy a used Audi A8 for ? The originals owners dump them like pennies in the U.S.

    • 0 avatar

      @MICHAEL K

      1. Honestly I would have to see confirmation myself of TrueDelta’s data but knowing many VAG product owners and Volvo product owners I will take a decade old Volvo over any decade old VAG product. I would question the sample size of True Delta VS Consumer Reports which CURRENTLY ranks Volvo as the most reliable European brand sold in the U.S.
      BTW I owned a 1985 Audi 5000 (crap) at the same time I owned a 1985 Volvo 740GLE (very reliable but the main electrical harness did fail and was replaced at significant cost but was very reliable post repair and the 740GLE saved my life from a 50MPH T-bone on the driver’s side and yes I was driving and I WALKED away and can supply a photo as proof of the wreck). Mercedes repeated Volvo’s mistake of adopting bio-degradable wiring harnesses in 1990s.

      2. Volvo’s reliability DID drop significantly between 1999-2002 in part due to the adoption of Italian supplied Electronic throttles , early Aisin-Warner 5 speed automatics (Lexus/Toyota transmission builder) and GM trannies. GM supplied transmission issues extended until 2005 but Volvo has been replacing them without too much fuss the past several years. Volvo learned their lesson WELL and stopped using GM as a transmission supplier and went back to their decades long Aisin-Warner transmission supplier for all their needs. Is BMW still using GM as a transmission supplier ?

      3. Volvo realized they had a reliability issue a decade ago set out rectify the problem which they have done.

      4. 3-5 years at most of subpar reliability does not equate to DECADES of subpar reliability which is why some many people run away from VAG products to NEVER return. Even with the reliability issues Volvo had their ENGINES were generally very stout and the aftermarket provides corrected Electronic Throttles and Volvo themselves are warrantying the troublesome ETMs to 200K miles if you choose to stay with the dealer replacement.

      5. Of recent history I am only aware of 1 “Volvo” engine that had notable failure rates the 2005 Volvo XC90 Yamaha built V8 and Volvo has been replacing or rebuilding those engines readily on their dime when/if they fail. Volvo has dumped the Yamaha V8 engine in favor of their up powered T6 engines. Regardless I doubt you will see the timing chains failing on the Yamaha V8s (sans 2005) by 100-120K miles like VAG V8s do and you definitely won’t see the timing chains on the T6 engines failing that early – they will likely do 300K with EASE on their timing chains.

      6. One of my best friends runs a busy Auto Repair Shop and I hangout their from time to time just because of my general interest in cars since I was 16 (I am 38 now) and we can give you first hand accounts of VAG owners seeking relief from the dealer and their German junk piles. I have driven many variety of Porsche, Mercedes, BMW including grey market performance variants none of them have successfully tempted me away from Volvo.

      7. I would CONSIDER a nice used Mercedes SL500 (2005-2006 is reasonable in terms of purchase price) but my shoulders are probably some of the widest you will ever see and I don’t fit comfortably in a SL500 nor a 2011+ Volvo C70 convertible (my other convertible choice) as they have the exact same shoulder width down to inch. I enjoy lifting weights too much.

      • 0 avatar

        OK OK, a Volvo is a better value proposition than an Audi, an Audi is a better value proposition than a Beemer, and a Hyundai is a better value proposition than a Volvo. You won’t get much argument from people on any of these. If thats worth writing diatribes while beating on your caps lock, more power to ya.

        As a subtle defense of VAG where engines don’t last longer than 50k miles, my 2003 Jetta is running strong at 174k with annual maintenance costs averaging $120/month inclusive of tires and brakes. Engine is quiet as can be and turbo is strong, knock on wood!

        …and the not-so-subtle mention of how big your shoulder muscles are from weightlifting should *immediately* be inducted in the Internet hall of fame!

      • 0 avatar

        > my 2003 Jetta is running strong at 174k

        I concur.

        My 03 Jetta 1.8T just turned 200k. My wife’s ’03 Passat turned 150k. My 1997 Jetta 2.0 just turned 360k. My 1987 Golf lasted 624k. My 1975 Scirocco lasted 250k. My 1977 Datsun 280z lasted 250k.

        Swedishiron, when it comes to cars and maintenance, My track record shows that I wipe the floor with you when it comes to cars (and aircraft as a former aircraft mechanic in the military).

        Since you’re incapable of making a VAG automobile run past 50k, I suggest you take your 38 year old rookie self back to mechanic school for remedial training before running with the Big Dogs!

        Consider yourself schooled…

        Class dismissed.

  • avatar

    For this price it makes more sense to buy a Q7 or GL. It is much more car for the money.

    • 0 avatar

      Who said American buy everything by the pound the other day? Amen.

    • 0 avatar

      Only if your single qualifying characteristic for “much more car” is size. Personally, for the money, I’ll take a car over an SUV, due to better driving characteristics, a lower ride, and fuel mileage. No need for a big SUV yet, as I only have one kid, and even if I have two more, you’ll have a hard time talking me into a big SUV. (disclaimer: I currently have a midsize SUV – a Ford Explorer – but after finding that my brother in law’s Honda Civic coupe swallowed up as much people and cargo as I needed, only my lousy credit is really keeping me inside the Explorer.)

  • avatar

    Looks like this A6 finally gets the flip-flopped transmission and differential that Audi designed to shift the front wheels forward. The long front overhang always made the A6 look ungainly compared to the competition. Anyone know if this is the case? While it looks better it’s got to add a lot of complexity to the drive train…

    • 0 avatar

      @ ckgs –

      Yes, the new A6 is built on Audi’s MLP design upon which all their longitudinally mounted vehicles share. It’s the system that allows them to economically do things like the A5 and A7 sportback models. Personally, they still need to trim a couple of inches off of the nose to help better proportion the vehicle, but it’s miles ahead of the previous generation model.

  • avatar

    Just look at that trunk lid! It’s useless! It is supposedly mid size sedan, but the opening looks like sub compact! Oh yeah, that’s how Audi is forcing you to buy a crossover, if you need to seat 5 and have some luggage, since A6 Avant is NLA.

  • avatar
    joey c

    It seems that reviews for the 2.0t version are hard to find. Its a much different car than the quattro reviewed here. Far less expensive and higher economy. I’d like to know how successful they were in transcending the limitations of fwd and having a cvt. when do you think you’ll be able to get your hands on one?

    • 0 avatar

      I would also love to read this. The review would probably have to be in the south, since the front wheel drive Audis are only shipped North if ordered. My dealer in the Midwest says he sells 2 non-quattros per year.

      One would assume the power is sufficient since the 2.0T A6 is 30 lbs lighter than the A4 Quattro, but ye old CVT would be a hyuge compromise for the enthusiast driver. But Christ, that’s a ton of interior goodies for $45k.

    • 0 avatar

      I actually requested a 2.0T, in an attempt to not essentially review the same car again. They only have 3.0Ts in the press fleet–hence the lack of 2.0T reviews.

  • avatar

    The A7 is drop dead gorgeous. Will buy one as soon as I hit the lottery! Why doesn’t Audi sell the A5 Sportback here? Dumb decision.

  • avatar

    Good review.

    Regarding the qustion Why A6 if there is a “same price” A7, just don’t forget company car user.
    A7 may fit in the budget, but often it is too “nice”, looks like a coupe or a sport car.

  • avatar

    After reading through some of these comments, I feel like I lost a brain cell or two… and I don’t have all that many to begin with :)

    From my point of veiw, current generation Audi vehicles are spot on product-wise, but in the USA their image as a tier 1 luxury player is lagging reality.

    Audi had significant momentum in the 80s with their 5000 / 100 model, but then the ‘unintended acceleration’ negative PR occurred, almost obliterating the brand from the US. It took a good 10 years (plus the homerun of the B5 A4) for Audi to regain its reputation and customers.

    Now that Audi has some of its most competitive products ever, the brand image seems to be increasing, but that 10-year gap is a still plague. My guess (and hope) is that Audi will be considered a tier 1 luxury brand in the US in another decade.

  • avatar

    The 2012 A6 can be very nice for under 50K. Mine is not quattro, but it is still very responsive. Here is a video showing how it looks before and after tint. Very nice.

  • avatar

    On two separate occasions we had Audi A6 3.0t’s in our R & D dept for testing, both new 011’s. On both occasions that I drove the cars I was expecting to be impressed by the interior, power and overall package, being a E46 (dated)driver. Not so, both cars had extremely vague steering, so much that it was difficult to keep the car from wandering in the lane without constant corrections. This was noticed by several of our engineers including our European specialist. It was so bad that if I was test driving to buy I would consider the car faulty and tell the dealer such. With all of the praise about Audi interiors I was expecting a lot more, it was definitely more modern and “updated” from my E46 but not clearly superior in materials or styling (my 325iT is sport/premium equipped and is no slouch in interior material quality fit/finish). As for power, it had it but didn’t quite know when and how to deliver it, it had definite lag in throttle response and when left in full auto mode had trouble with the down/up shift.

  • avatar

    Wow. If you’re not impressed with the interior pictured above, I don’t know what to tell ya. Tough crowd, I guess. I test drove this and have sat in an A7 and was supremely impressed….couldn’t think of anything I would change. The LCD screen between the tach and speedo (which are beautiful BTW) is unreal. Bottom line is incredible tech done tastefully all around.

  • avatar
    Manny Calavera

    Audi’s are good competent cars – quite silent, good workmanship, nice engines. But their main selling point is the “sober, affluent” image. Leave out the image, a Toyota/Lexus is the better people carrier, which the A6 basically is: less failure-prone thus more reliable, cheaper to buy and run, just as big and comfortable, etc. If I was going for teutonic steel (and image) I’d opt for the Merc or the BMW, which at least feel more “special” behind the wheel.

  • avatar

    Audi A6T-Q won me over versus the E350, 5-Series, TL-SHawd, and Infiniti G37x. (all AWDs) I was looking for a combination of power, handling, and overall quality. Yes, the Bimmer handles better but is it better? The E350 isn’t necessarily a performance car rather one to be “noticed in”. G37x is excellent only if you are street racing to 60mph – small and rough ride.

    I looked at the A7 but with no noticeable advantages, plus the “coupe” style for 2012 and the useless 5th door, I chose the A6 3.0T. No problems and the 19/28mpg – I’ve gotten on average 21/29mpg. Nice car yes it’s expensive but you get what you pay for.

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