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A6 Oozes Luxury And Tech

March 30, 2019 GMT

Did you know? There’s an all-new Audi A6 on the road. No? Well, don’t worry. You probably would not have noticed with anything less than a quick glance. But it’s true: The 2019 edition of Audi’s midsize sedan is fully redesigned, although this fifth generation’s changes over its forebears seem largely evolutionary from an aesthetic standpoint. The new car is practically the same dimensions as the 2018 model while sporting a similar sophisticated, aerodynamic exterior profile. The principal changes involve technology, of which the A6 has a gracious plenty. Gone is the old center console-mounted button-and-knob multimedia interface (or “MMI” in Audi-speak); controls and readouts have been relocated in a pair of bright, easy-to-read touchscreens located on the center stack and in the “virtual cockpit” gauge cluster. Everything from climate control to the audio system to throttle-response modes and beyond are controlled from there using a selectable array of haptic buttons. The new A6 rolled into showrooms in one basic form: All current models are powered by a stout and creamy-smooth 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 rated at 335 horsepower and 369 foot-pounds of torque (a downmarket version powered by Volkswagen’s ubiquitous 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four is reportedly in the works). A quick-shifting dual-clutch seven-speed automatic transmission is standard, as is the company’s Quattro all-wheel-drive system. There are three trim levels — Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige — distinguished largely by various options packages. Pricing starts at $58,900 for Premium models, which includes a set of 19-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry and ignition, automatic wipers and dimming mirrors, leather upholstery, heated and power-adjustable front seating, frontal-collision warning with emergency braking, driver’s seat memory and more. Premium Plus adds automatic high-beam headlights, a digital instrument cluster, a larger MMI interface, a surround-view camera system and an upgraded Bang & Olufsen audio setup. Topping out the range is this week’s tester, an all-the-way Prestige sample boasting a warm-weather package, upgraded LED headlamps, dual-pane sunroof, power-folding sideview mirrors, four-zone climate control, ventilated front seats with lumbar support and much more. An extensive list of options that added S-Line sport suspension, 21-inch alloys, four-passenger Individual Contour seating, Firmament Blue paint and Driver Assistance brought the bottom line in at a head-clearing $77,290, delivery included. That’s a lot of dollars (or euros, if you prefer), but to be fair, German high-end rides tend to be pricey, and this is a fair amount of car that competes nicely against competitors like BMW’s 5 Series and the Mercedes-Benz E Class. The familiar exterior profile is augmented by some additional sheet-metal curves and bulges, and the whole kit and kaboodle sits low to the ground and looks Autobahn-ready. Audi’s long-lived rep for attractive, well-crafted and intelligently designed cabins is on full display in the new A6. Handing over the lion’s share of controls to the touch-screen MMI interface cleaned up the center console and results in one of the more button-free cabins I’ve sampled since the tech-heavy Land Rover Velar. The interface’s command over so many vehicle functions at first seemed overwhelming, but a week of fiddling with it showed it to be fairly intuitive. The V-6 delivers power in a linear, seamless fashion with little in the way of turbo lag. Acceleration is correspondingly brisk, with 60 mph arriving in roughly five seconds. The engine feels perfectly mated to the dual-clutch automatic transmission, which picks its shift points quickly and intelligently. The only hiccup during the week involved an occasion when the engine failed to turn over when the ignition button was depressed. The solution, as I learned, was simple: I wasn’t pushing down hard enough on the brake pedal. That having been learned, the rest of our A6 tester’s visit was flawless. The MMI-controllable Driver Select driving modes adjust for five settings — efficiency, comfort, automatic, dynamic and individual — that rejigger shift points and throttle response to optimize fuel consumption or put a grin on your face. Overall handling is excellent, with the AWD system keeping the A6 on a true line while accelerating through corners. Others have deducted points for the steering system light and disconnected feel, but I didn’t mind it. Front-seaters are treated to a pair of comfortable and supportive seats, while the 40/20/40 split-folding rear bench offers enough legroom to keep medium-sized adults happy on middle-distance hauls. The 13.7-cubic-foot trunk is small by midsize sedan standards. 2019 Audi A6 3.0T Quattro Vehicle type: Four-door, five-passenger midsize luxury sedan. Base/as-tested prices: $58,900/$77,290. Engine and transmission: 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 (335 horsepower and 369 foot-pounds torque); seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. EPA estimates: 22 mpg city, 29 mpg highway, 25 mpg combined. The good: Fully redesigned fifth-generation A6; lots of revised technology, mainly centering on the redesigned haptic-touch-screen multimedia interface; creamy-smooth and powerful turbocharged V-6 delivers vigorous acceleration; quick-shifting seven-speed dual-clutch automatic rows through gears seamlessly; standard Quattro all-wheel drive; luxuriously quiet and comfortable ride quality; still fun to drive through sweeping expressway turns; drop-dead gorgeous interior and aerodynamic, handsome exterior; roomy 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats. The bad: Asking price skyrockets with options; smallish trunk; new MMI interface requires a period of introduction; remember to depress the brake when starting up. Bottom line: Sleek, stylish and swift, Audi’s new A6 offers more of what made the model popular and holds its own against similar German luxury rivals.