There are advantages to flying under the radar.
Make no mistake: there is great fun in having a red-hot sports car that gathers the oohs and ahhs of from friends and thumbs-up from those in the know.
But there’s little fun having law enforcement following you around, waiting for you to succumb to temptation.
Or when your insurance company finds out you have an M3, S4, or AMG E43.
Luckily, there’s a nice little niche of strong performing vehicles that don’t call attention to themselves, or raise red flags to those who would spoil Your Good Time.
Take for example, our tester. If we say Audi A6, you probably think, nice, handsome sedan. Solid player. Nothing too exciting. The Florett Silver is a nice color draping the crisp lines. There are a few giveaways that ours is a little special. Decked out in new Competition trim, the A6 gets the tasteful 5-spoke wheels from the S6 über-sedan (not to be confused with an Uber sedan), red brake calipers, and some blacked out trim.
Out here in LaLa Land, you see a lot of German sedans with bigger rims and some subdued de-chroming, so while the A6 Comp is a handsome, tasteful car, most people see just another silver Audi. That’s good.
If they bother to look inside, they’ll get a few clues to the upgrade. Instead of the usual comfortable thrones, the Competition gets the seats from the S6, which includes perfectly-shaped and highly adjustable front buckets, and diamond-tufted leather front and rear, with sporty Korso red stitching. If you don’t get the heated steering wheel like our tester, you also get a cool D-shaped wheel to wrap your hands around.
All this is on top of what is already one of the very best interiors in the biz. Audi does a superb job, with quality materials, sleek design, and craftsmanship. The only thing that lets it down is the newer Audi’s that have super-cool stuff like a navi display in the main gauge display (the A6 still has to do with a navigation screen that motors up and down electrically from the center of the dash.
We do love that Audi uses Google Maps to give you a photo-realistic display for navigation, though. And the optional Top View Camera System that gives you a neat corner view, looking to the sides of the nose – great when pulling out onto a busy street from a drive or parking garage.
The MMI interface with separate touchpad and handwriting that was groundbreaking a couple years ago has been widely imitated by now, too. Still works great, though.
And it still drives great, too. Behind the 4-ringed signature grille is Audi’s proven Supercharged 3.0-liter V6. (Why it’s an A6 3.0T and not an A6 3.0S is anybody’s guess…) With the Competition model, you get a slight bump of 7 hp to a nice, round 340, and 325 lb.-ft. of torque.
Combined with a wonderfully-quick 8-speed automatic, the A6 always feels like it has plenty of power on tap. In Comfort mode, it’s quick and silent, but Dynamic mode wakes it up just enough that you’ll probably keep it there most of the time. It just loves to pull and pull, and you feel a solid push in the back when you keep your foot in it. It’s fast, but unflustered – a Gentleman’s Express.
The ride is also refined – even with the big meats from the S6, the ride is supple and quiet, making for an easy, long-legged cruiser. But that shouldn’t stop you from throwing it around, because the chassis is up for playtime. Combine the model’s Sport Suspension, Quattro all-wheel drive, and trick torque-vectoring rear differential, and the A6 attacks turns in sharply, with lots of bite and great precision coming through the wheel. It grips and grips, and you’re glad it’s got those front hip-hugging sport seats to keep you in place.
The brakes feel supremely powerful – a good thing with the A6’s ability to ramp up speed – and at first touch they almost feel overboosted, but once you adapt to them, you trust their abilities to haul you down in a hurry.
It’s this supreme blend of confidence and control that make the A6 Competition feel so trustworthy, and that carries over in other areas. Our tester was equipped with the Driver Assistance Package, which includes adaptive cruise control with stop & go, active lane assist, top view camera system (very handy) and high beam assistant.
Now, we’ve driven other vehicles with the Adaptive Cruise that will come to a complete stop, and then a tap on the button it accelerates back up to speed – traffic permitting. And although we love this technology, to tell the truth, most times we find ourselves with our foot hovering over the brake pedal – just in case.
But not in the A6. It’s so capable, and comfortable and trustworthy, we just let the cruise system handle it all, feeling completely confident in its abilities. You know all those futuristic movies with Audis in them? This might be why.
Which, like in those movies, the Audis seem to be completely autonomous, yet let the driver take over and enjoy the sheer pleasure of driving. We see a bright future in Audi’s vision here. As long as the robots don’t try to take over.
Here in the present, the A6 Competition is a very alluring package. Well-loaded to being with, the A6 3.0T competition Quattro starts at $67,600. The Floret Silver paint adds $575. The Driver Assistance package, another $2,550. Toasted buns come courtesy of the Cold Weather package at $500. All summed up, with destination, our tester carried an MSRP of $72,175.
Its biggest competitor probably would be its sibling, the S6, which features 450 horsepower, and starts at temptingly close $70,900. Load one up though, and you can easily hit $77,000 – plus. More importantly, when you’re in an S6, people know, and you’ll have a much rougher time flying under the radar.
We’ll stick with the superbly balanced, extremely quick, yet low-key A6 Competition.
A near perfect blend of everything we want in a driver’s car.
No bragging required.
Ben Lewis grew up in Chicago, and after spending his formative years driving sideways in the winter – often intentionally – moved to sunny Southern California. He now enjoys sunny weather year-round — whether it is autocross driving, aerobatics, and learning to surf.