2012 Audi A6 3.0T road test: Can this German can wow the driver and the passengers?

2012 Audi A6 3.0T

2012 Audi A6 3.0T

At first glance, the changes to the new 2012 Audi A6 don’t look that major, but a closer look at the German manufacturer’s  newest generation mid-size sports/luxury sedan proves that the development team was hard at work.

Although the 2012 sedan’s profile remains unmistakably Audi, you may notice immediately that there is a new front end featuring the Audi corporate grille and revised headlights. Nothing to elicit oohs and aahs so far.

What you probably will not notice at first glance is that the A6 wheelbase has been stretched 2.8 inches, to 114.7, mostly to expand rear-passenger room. At the same time, the overall length of the Audi A6 has grown only .4 inches, to 193.9. Useful changes, but nothing startling.

Totally beneath the radar is Audi’s increased use of aluminum. Twenty percent of the new Audi is made of that metal.That includes aluminum body panels and an aluminum suspension, which reduce weight and, according to Audi, improve ride and handling. At a not-too slender 4,045 pounds, the Audi A6 3.0T I drove is 78 pounds lighter than its predecessor.

At least for now, the 2012 Audi A6 comes with two engine choices.

For the first time, the entry level sedan is powered by the turbocharged 2-liter, 4-cylnder engine that can be found in a variety of Audi and Volkswagen vehicles. In the A6, it generates 211 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque.

It is mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission and is available only with front-wheel-drive. Its estimated average of 25 mpg city/33 highway makes it the most fuel efficient choice in its class, according to Audi.

The German manufacturer says it will go from a stop to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds.   That’s not particularly fast, but it should satisfy buyers who are more interested in fuel mileage than high performance.

 

The A6 sedan I drove, and the one that will attract the bulk of U.S. buyers, is the Audi 3.0T with a standard Quattro all-wheel-drive system.

Although “T” usually stands for turbocharger, this Audi V-6 engine gets its extra boost from a supercharger. The result is 310 horsepower, 325 pound-feet of torque and a 0-60 time of 5.3 seconds, which makes it about a half second quicker than was possible with the supercharged, 300-horsepower V-6 in the 2011 model.

Audi A6 instruments

Audi A6 instruments

An eight-speed transmission routes the power to the wheels and the 2012 Audi gets a fuel consumption rating of 19 mpg city/28 highway.

 

Gone for 2012 are the base 3.2-liter, 265-horsepower V-6; the optional 4.2-liter, 350-horsepower V-8; and the 5.2-liter, 435-horsepower V-10.

As is always the case with Audi, the interior design and materials are first-rate. From the well designed cockpit to the comfortable and supportive leather seats, to the tasteful metallic accents, the Audi bathes you in luxury; while managing to exude an aura of sportiness.

Out on the road, the 2012 Audi A6 3.0T accentuates those qualities. As Audi has  improved its powertrains, independent suspension and all-wheel-drive systems, the car’s handling has become confidence inspiring when the road suddenly turns twisty.

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Nick has been an avid observer of all things automotive almost since birth and has been writing professionally about cars, trucks and the industry for more than 30 years. He is the author of The Essential Hybrid Car Handbook and was the long-time automotive editor for the Reading (Pa.) Eagle and Times. His articles have appeared in a variety of magazines, including The Robb Report and Men’s Health, and he has written for a variety of auto industry-related Web sites. He is also a member and former director of the International Motor Press Assn., a New York-based organization of more than 500 automotive journalists and auto industry executives.