No scoffing at my 2.0T badge!
It only takes a block of driving to know: this Audi is a time machine.
It takes us into a future of downsized, forced-induction engines that hold their own beside V8s. And cruise onward while others take the exit ramp to refuel.
Power, speed, efficiency and value come standard on the 2016 A6 2.0T. There are a few option boxes omitted on the test car that we think you will enjoy, however. And one bombshell performance secret to why the 32-MPG A6 quattro is a *must* over the 35-MPG A6 2.0T in its $46k, front-drive guise.
The A6 was a revolution right in our driveway the other week, and we have some good, great and wishlist items to detail in this HD Drive review.
100 or so new photos of the car we affectionately nicknamed Oh 'Black Betty' (ram-a-lamb), along with the normal section headings of Exterior, Interior, Performance, Pricing and Summary. Also included? A 20-minute HD video review highlights many of these elements -- set to the soundtrack of the A6 on full throttle in Dynamic mode!
HD Drive Video - 2016 Audi A6 2.0T Quattro
Fact-checker's notes on the above video:
-- the A7 is the best up-level model to enjoy more back seat space; a fact we curiously forgot while shooting this.
-- the USA A8 for 2016 does not come standard with the 2.0T engine. We were mistaken.
The new A6 is battling its own success on the appearance front. Yes, it instantly looks chic and classy on the roads. And yes, there are new elements to excite the eye around the flared sills and new-look rectangular exhaust finishers.
But there are times when a traditional-looking A6 spec can look worryingly stale. This happens most in the familar glasshouse and proportions.
But look further, and there is new and timeless beauty to discover. Check out the slim new lower bumper element, extending slightly forward from the grille and wearing a chic slice of chrome. Helps the car look wider and much pricier than before.
The new A6 is easiest to spot thanks to its split-arrow LED designs for the lighting. Those gorgeous LED headlights are actually optional, though, on all the 2.0T A6s. The standard look is also new, but employs bi-xenon projectors + LED DRLs. The new LED DRL in front for base-ish A6s is this thin and ultra-bright white LED strip along the top of the lamps. It is unique and sexy -- but certainly less so than the Full LED lights that are a $1400 option.
These standard lamps are terrific in terms of light depth and consistency, so it feels a bit silly to recommend the optional LEDs right off the bat. But there is more to it than pure vanity.
We'd bummed to report that self-proclaimed LED leader Audi has regressed a bit in the name of easy entry prices. This is clear when you see the bulb blinkers in front.
Similarly, the new LED DRL look recalls the A3 more than the A8 W12-style chrome, horizontal grille details.
Forgiving many things is possible for the test car thanks to its tremendous value at $56k.
The new A6 look is sharper and more premium than ever -- but the details (beyond the lights) are hard to spot at first.
That being said, the car is quite chic even in this nearly black Moonlight Blue example. The $800 19-inch alloys are a nice upgrade -- but again stick with a very traditional appearance. These blade-sharp multispokes are painted an interesting bright silver -- but are a far cry from the latest trend toward dark wheels and de-chromed body styles.
We also longed for the slightly lower and meaner look of the S-line bumpers and aerokit all around. Yes, the gloss-black and chrome standard face is chic and premium. But where are the RS-like intakes!? Where are the hot wheels?
They are just a $1600 option-box away, my friends.
The S-line A6 2.0T for 2016 is a secret-weapon of a car: looks and sporty stance that almost beg you to slap on a few S6 badges here and there. Or at least debadge the trunk.....
The cabin of the A6 is the first place you really 'get' why Audi's sales have been on an upward trend for the last decade in a row. It is superb on first sitting: every element is high-quality and touchably tactile. The optional layered wood finishes are some of the most lovely and timeless from any make at any price. The 'thwunk' of the doors closing is industry-best stuff in terms of perceived quality.
The low dashboard design is also exceptionally modern and light-weight in its look. Gone are the days of domineering center stacks and pregnant-with-airbags dashboards. The new Audi cabin is all about feeling open, calm and serene -- a feeling of space that is enhanced by the flatscreen MMI behind hidden when the car is turned off. Tap the 'Start button, and it whirs out and into position in a satisfying way.
The somewhat simple controls and lack of buttons below the MMI screen help this sense of calm, modern luxury inside.
The A6 does take a tiny bit of learning to master is controls. There are nice dedicated climate and audio controls outside the MMI system, but certain functions are tricky. As mentioned in the video... the vent direction for the HVAC system mystified us. Until we just got into the 'mode' screen and just turned the knob. Poof, problem solved! But perhaps still overly complex for such a basic function.
The power reach/rake of the steering wheel offers a tremendous range of drive positions -- extending out deep and low just like we prefer. This car lacked the 18-way adjustable thrones, sticking with normal ~10-way power controls for the driver's seat. We felt comfortable 90-percent of the time. The other 10-percent, we were futzing with the headrest and 4-way lumbar support in hopes of a 'goldilocks' position. Could not really find it, unfortunately. We have a giant obese head, and would appreciate more neck support than the up/down headrest positions could deliver.
The new 2.0T engine range in the A6 is fairly revolutionary -- it lets this wide and premium sedan do the impossible:
-- more affordable -- base prices from $46k
-- still very rapid -- a 5.8-second 0-60-mph run
-- cruise highways with MPG economy comfortably in the 30s.
So the core logic and value proposition for the new turbo four is rock solid.
Gallery location: Angel Oaks near Beaufort, SC
But we get it. You are jaded and skeptical, just like we were when Audi announced that the refreshed 2016 A6's base engine would be a turbo four.
Sure, on the one hand, the tiny engines make up a huge chunk of European and global sales for the A6, E-Class and 5 series. But typically the US lines have been the pick of the spec ranges. Optimized for US shoppers' preference to buy off the lot versus placing a custom order, the German luxury brands have been reluctant to dilute their premium positions here in America with small engines.
But then along comes this amazingly strong 2.0-liter that can knock off 5.8-second sprints to 60-mph. And this full-time AWD quattro 2.0T even glides along the highway with a 32-mpg rating. The 22/26/32 stats for this AWD machine are sublime when paired with its big gas tank and eagerness on throttle.
Seriously good stuff.
Is it perfect?
No, not for all speed demons. The 2.0T never sounds very exciting, even at max attack. Nor does it purr at idle like the 3.0T engine from $57k in the A6.
But mostly, the best part of the A6 2.0T is that it never feels slow (in Dynamic mode.) In Comfort or Automatic, you have to poke the bear a little bit to get the car humming. Its default mode has a much less eager kickdown and overall dulled throttle response than the same car in Dynamic mode, or Individual with the right personal settings picked.
252-horsepower and 273-pound-feet of torque are the official numbers, but we'd wager the real power figure is closer to 290 for both.
TRANSMISSIONS ARE KEY - Get the Quattro 8-Speed
The A6 comes with two gearbox selections in 2.0T form: the front-drive car with a twin-clutch, 7-speed DSG. Or the test car, with Quattro AWD and an eight-speed, torque-converter auto. The Quattro version is smoother, never jerky and -- critically -- MUCH faster than the FWD car. Official times? 5.8s plays 6.7-seconds for the FWD car. That is much more than just traction on launch/avoiding wheelspin.
You can see in the above drive video how the A6 Quattro does on a brake-torque launch. The machine whirs up its boost and shoots off the line like a champ. Real urge as the Tiptronic surfs the torque plateau in the first few gears, then zings out on horsepower up past 50-mph. The autobox has fabulous shift paddles right behind the wheel. These instantly snick up or down a gear at any time for engine braking or corner control. A slight curio with this dream drivetrain?
There is a momentary pause in upshifts sometimes. The engine stays on boost while an ultra-smooth shift happens. You soon forget about this behavior, for the most part, but it is worth mentioning. The price to pay for buttery-smooth shifts? Fine by me. And the stopwatch!
Added bonus of the Quattro, of course, is its grip. You will never need to find the ESP/TCS buttons to enjoy fast driving in rainy weather. The A6 Quattro never cut power or had brake intervention during our time together -- which is very rare. As a car tester, disabling traction control is usually the first thing you must do to enjoy a car at full throttle.
Speaking of the throttle.... we were slightly surprised to find the gas pedal is top-hinged, not floor-mounted like many Porsches and other premium marques. The top-mounted pedal can lead to some discomfort in long drives. Similar story with the 'dead' pedal for your left foot. It is a slightly funny angle.
The purists will tell you the BMW 528i or Mercedes E300 handle better than the A6 thanks to their rear-drive origins.
That may be the case in 10/10ths driving, but we never felt it. The A6 feels superbly balanced and neutral in corners. Far less nose-heavy than any Subaru, or, in fact, previous A6s. The lightweight turbo up front joins forces with an aluminum and hot-steel front half of the car to deliver results.
This is a car that can dive into corners, hang on all around, and power out without a lick of understeer or sense of 'push' as the nose goes wide. 40-front, 60-rear is the default torque split, and honestly seems perfect. There is none of the basically-FWD feel you get in cars like the Buick Regal GS -- where power only heads to the back axle when the front wheels start slipping.
Overall, the A6 2.0T handles very responsively, and has a smooth highway ride to boot -- even on the up-sized 19-inch alloys of the test car.
We might want a bit more tire contact patch in an ideal world, and hope the lusted-after S-line option pack keeps the nice ride/handling balance intact. Best way to tell? Drive both and see....!
For real smoothness and that low-slung S6 style, the 3.0T A6 offers air suspension -- an option not available on the base motor.
This is a car that feels and looks like $80k, but actually comes supremely well-equipped for just $56k, delivered.
The A6 is terrific value in 2.0T form. Pricing for the test car starts at $48,400. The Premium Plus trimline adds about four grand, while $500 Moonlight Blue paint and $800 19-inch wheels ratchet up the total into the 50s. The $800 warm weather pack and $500 layered Walnut cabin inlays are the only other options to note from its window sticker, which totals $55,775 (including $925) delivery charge.
The two configurator options you really need for max exterior style? The $1600 S-Line pack and the ~$1400 Full LED headlights.
We love this car! Even in its anonymous business suit looks without the sporty style of upgraded LEDs, the A6 is still easily one of the most impressive luxury cars we've driven.
A cabin so gorgeous you might want it to pose for an oil painting. An exterior that is modern, instant class. Overall pricing that opens the A6 to people otherwise stuck in Avalons or C-Classes....
A fast-forward button to the future. The A6 2.0T Quattro is ready for 2020 and beyond!
The 3.0T engine, S-line pack and LED headlight options are still mighty tempting for our tastes. But the core vehicle?
Inherently excellent in every way. You will completely understand all this -- and the best-seller's loyal following -- just minutes into your first drive. Or even first sitting!
Price out an A6 and book a test drive online via the below link.
TECH BRIEF - 2016 Audi A6 2.0T Quattro
Engineering | Performance
Engine type Four-cylinder
Displacement (cc)/Bore and stroke (mm) 1,984/82.5 x 92.8
Horsepower (@ rpm) 252 @ 5,000 - 6,000
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm) 273 @ 1,600 - 4,500
Engine block Cast-iron
Cylinder head Aluminum-alloy
Valvetrain 16-valve DOHC with valvelift system
Induction/fuel injection Turbocharged/TFSI®
Acceleration (0 – 60 mph) 5.8 sec.
Top track speed 130 mph 9
Transmission | Drivetrain
Transmission Eight-speed Tiptronic® automatic transmission with quattro® all-wheel drive