Audi A6 offers quiet, powerful ride

Audi has the roads covered in engines and prices when it comes to sedans for sale in these United States.

The German company has four-cylinder, V6, V8 and 12 cylinder sedans with prices ranging from $30,000 to $130,000 for the A4, A6, A7 and A8 models. They are compact, mid-size or full-size sedans. The coupes are an A5 and a TT.

Perhaps the most highly regarded is the A6 with the choice of a four cylinder, V6 or V8 engine and a price range of mid-$40,000s to high-$70,000s.

The 2014 A6 in for a week of test driving cost $45,200, which paid for  a 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder developing 220 horsepower and an all-wheel-drive system that Audi has trademarked as quattro.

That engine and AWD system also can be found in the A4 and A3. Instead of a six- or seven-speed sequential DSG shifting mechanism, though, the A6 had the engine mated to an eight-speed shiftable automatic transmission.

Needless to say the shift points were not noticeable and torque was quietly provided at all speeds. This 3,957-pound sedan can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds, according to the factory.

Braking is in the 120-foot range on P255 all-season 17-inch tires mounted on the 10-spoke alloy wheels. Front and rear brake discs measure 13 inches. Airbags are in front, on the sides and overhead. Traction and stability controls cooperate with a four-wheel antilock braking system. The five seat positions have headrests and seatbelts (pretensioners in front).

Highlights of the test A6 included leather seating surfaces, halogen headlights with LED daytime running lamps, a navigation system with voice control, keyless start, stop and entry and front and rear sensors for reflection on a rear view camera. It can really help in tight parking situations. The sound system included 10 speakers, compact disc player, MP3 playback and iPod capability, Bluetooth, AM-FM-satellite radio with presets.

Quibbles are few but included small buttons for the directional vents of the heating and air-conditioning systems. They are tiny buttons and could use an increase in size.  The MMI sound system with the 7-inch color screen was confusing, but an owner's manual  explained how to use it.

Trunk space is 14 cubic feet is small for a mid-size sedan, but the storage space can be doubled as the split rear seats can fold flat.

Although the exterior design is prosaic and understated, this means it will not go out of style in a few years. It may look as fresh or in vogue 10 years from now as it does today.

Silence prevails in the cabin when the sound system is off. This is a tight, highly insulated sedan.

The multilink suspension system was tuned to a sport ride so expect to feel the road more than normal. Seats are buttressed and comfortable front and rear. The front seats power back for taller folk. Officially the leg room in front is 41.3 inches, but that is when seats have not moved leaving 37.4 inches of leg room in the rear. When the front seats power back, more leg room becomes available.

Steering is precise and begs for fingertip control. Quattro provides a system where road conditions and speed dictate power flowing to front or rear axles. The system seeks the most tire grip for the car. If Audi engineers can be believed, that tire grip is not only sought but found. Traveling around corners at high but legal speeds was done safely and without incident. In fact, the A6 quattro system kept the car as balanced on those sharp corners as in straightaways.

Amenities are above the norm and include a power sunroof and tilt-telescoping steering wheel  to accompany power express windows, power and heated front seats plus heated side mirrors.

The mirrors are power and, at night, a driver can see the lighted control. Other goodies are power door locks, an automatic three-zone climate control system, cruise control and courtesy lighting.

There are rain and light sensors to trigger windshield wipers and headlights.

Options, such as sound system and sport packages, can easily raise the price above the $50,000 mark.

Warranty coverage of four years or 50,000 miles includes 24-hour roadside assistance. Free scheduled maintenance is provided for one year or 5,000 miles.

In the luxury midsize sedan market, the A6 stands out and is worth a look and test drive.

For information, visit Audi USA.

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