Since I’m not an automotive journalist with credentials, I usually cobble together my reviews by driving friends’ cars. By way of borrowing a 2015 Audi A6 for my photoshoot with Clark Griffiths, I drove the car around town for a day, and got to properly thrashÂ it, with naryÂ 20 miles on the odometer!
We asked for a TDI A6 from Audi Tampa. Naturally, the day before, I get word they are sold out of the diesel-engined model. They all look the same outside, but from a driving perspective, I was excited to sample what most Americans consider a commercial truck method of propulsion.
The AM sales manager, Mike, kindly offered us a 2.0 liter turbo four-cylinder example with Quattro all-wheel drive. $55,000 out the door. Black over brown. 220 horsepower.
We’ll take it.
I’ve been a passenger in a friend’s more powerful 3.0 liter turbo six cylinder A6, and driven it briefly, but to be honest, the forward response feels about the same. There is no huge lack of passing power with the smaller engine, and oddly, not a great fuel savings either. The TDI is the choice engine, from what I hear about acceleration (torque!!), and economy.
But who cares? I’m far more finicky about forms and quality.
The 2015 A6 is quite attractive from all angles. Its exterior is sporty and pert, yet black-tie conservative. It doesn’t color too far outside the lines, but can be optioned to do so, if one wishes. See: S-line Sport package, which replaces chrome trim with black and matte stealth trimmings.
The interior is gorgeous, simply put. Not super showy or glossy, but with a nice balance of leather, molded plastic, wood, and metallic bits. The buttons move with hushed precision, and the multimedia display powers open and closed with James Bond “wow!”
Some tactile parts could be upgraded, like the signal and wiper stalks on the steering column. The A6 also doesn’t offer power steering column adjustment or multicontour front seats; the BMW 5-series does.
In motion, the A6 is comfortable and pleasant. It doesn’t lurch or surge unless requested, in which case it has to overcome a bit of turbocharger lag. Suspension is just right for drivers who do 90% calm and 10% spirited driving.
Compared to the 528i, equipped similarly, I would say the BMW still retains a lead on steering feel. The A6’s required turn effort is very minimal at low speed (higher at higher speeds), thanks to variable electro-mechanical steering, which is a technology becoming all the rage. No more hydraulic fluid for ‘analog’ steering, which is what gave older BMWs their famous road feel.
I loved the power rear sunshade and manual rear window shades. The Bose sound was crisp. Leather smelled fantastic.
Things I would add/change: a panorama (or just larger) moonroof, a power-operated trunk lid (keep those hands clean!), and ventilated seats (an option). Otherwise, the example I drove and Clark photographed was pretty sweet.
On the way out of the showroom, I spotted a loaded A4â€”$50,000. For a few grand more, I could get the same engine in a bigger, more modern and in my opinion more attractive car. Seems like a no-brainer.
On the other hand, $55k buys a lot of other nice models. The new S3 sedan, the sportier version of the A3, starts at $41k, though I’m sure it can be optioned up to $51k. Sure it’s smaller, but other than realtors and parents, who needs a big backseat?
In comparison to its direct competition, the A6 is a deal. The 528 flies past $55k equipped similarly. The E350 too. The Lexus GS350 rings in about the same, as does the Cadillac CTS and Infiniti Q70.
Thus, I conclude: should I be in the market for a true five-seater, and want contemporary beauty and luxury with undramaticÂ performance, I would surely choose the A6. Since I’m not, I willÂ be forced to accept the siren call of other, more exciting models.
An Audi S3 will come standard with LED headlamps, quilted leather seats, and a mean 290-horsepower turbo 4-cylinder. Uh, yeah!
Thanks again to Reeves/Audi Tampa for allowing us to borrow the A6 for the day, and for me to review it like a proper journalist. Visit them on East Fowler Avenue in North Tampa.