We probably like the diesel-powered Audi lineup more than we should. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but the passion we’re supposed to have is for something more like the Audi RS7.
Which of course we do, as you can read in the link above. But the 2014 Audi A6 TDI has its own charms. Of course, it’s an Audi A6, which combines its striking single frame grille—condolences to those who live in states with front license plate requirements that place a stamped, painted and numbered piece of sheet metal in the center of it—with conservative, softly rounded contours on a four-door sedan. One look and ‘nuf said.
And Audi is famous for interiors, on par with Infiniti (consider the 2013 Infiniti JX35, for example), another prime interior source. Joining the pure Audi interior goodness on our test A6 TDI is real open-pore wood. After years of deep transparent slickness added to real wood surfaces, luxury carmakers are seeing the high-gloss wood being matched by plastic imitation. Ergo, satin finishes or, like ours, wood with open pores exposed and more difficult to imitate with plastic. It’s not just the perceived impression of quality but also the discerned expense and exclusivity. And unavailable to the hoil polloi.
Our test A6 had the touch pad with could be used to write letters with a fingertip, for example, for an address for the navigation system. The character recognition was impressive. We didn’t experience a single misreading by the system. We did have some trouble transferring that to the actual nav system, though that probably had more to do with us. Ah, we’d gladly spend more Audi seat time to become more adept.
Because we’re talking interior, let’s discuss cupholders. We know Germans don’t like them, but we Americans do. Please space them far enough, Audi, for two soft drink cups to be held at one time. And don’t make the little grippers inside so strong that they crush aluminum cans. OK, enough kvetching about that.
Our test 2014 Audi A6 TDI was equipped with the driver’s assist package, the most remarkable element of which was active lane assist. Much more than just a lane warning or gentle tug on the steering wheel, the Audi system has a enough gumption and sensory accuracy that it can follow a lane-marked highway with standard Interstate highway curves. It’s only temporary, lest the driver rely solely on the system for full-time steering, but it’s the strongest yet system we’ve experienced.
While the seats, front and rear, are marvelously comfy and all-day tush pleasing both front and rear, with ample leg room even for back seat passengers, the drive shaft tunnel makes the middle rear seat unusable for all but the shortest trips and only if one of the outer passengers will share the footwell. Just consider the Audi A6 as a four passenger sedan.
But we’re revisiting the 2014 Audi A6 TDI for the engine, and we’ll repeat our impressions from earlier drives that the 3.0-liter V-6 is all but inaudible during cruise, though under acceleration feeds the cabin with distinctive diesel tone. At idle from outside the car, there’s no doubt the A6 TDI is a diesel, even more so when the hood is opened and even more with the engine shroud removed. It’s never enough to call it “clatter,” but it’s also apparent that Audi engineers have mastered sound insulation.
The engine’s torque curve with the fat diesel bottom end makes the A6 TDI easy to drive around town. No valve trashing rpm is required for, ah, assertive driving, and the Audi A6 TDI’s pleasant demeanor and effortless acceleration makes it easy to find oneself well above posted speed limits. Set your cruise control and relax, or at least as much as you can, because we know you’ll stretch that limit as much as you can.
Our Audi A6 TDI was equipped with auto stop/start, and having experiencing this on several cars, we’ve become accustomed to the engine “stalling” at a stop light and restarting when the brake is released. The recoil on the A6 TDI when restarting was stronger that other cars we’ve driven with auto stop/start, however We surmise this is from the more torque required to spin the higher compression of a diesel engine. Perhaps it’s just part of living with a diesel.
It’s a minor inconvenience we’re willing to endure—perhaps that’s too strong a word—for the comfort and overall performance of the 2014 Audi A6 TDI. We’ll add one more factor to the equation, however, and that’s fuel economy. Would you believe 31.2 mpg in our hilly test venue? And that, despite Audi’s best efforts at weight saving, is for a sedan that still has the weight necessarily associated with a full-sized sedan.
And speaking of fuel economy, we’ll add one more feature, an “Energy Consumer” bar graph on the information screen that provides graphic illustration on how many gallons per hour the collective electrical accessories are being used. It’s a reminder that those heated seats that feel so good do have an impact on fuel consumption.
We have to mention, however, the cost of entry for an Audi A6 TDI. The base price of our tester was $57, 500, optioned up to $67,295. It should be nice for that price.
That said, the fuel economy mixed with the comfort and coziness of the 2014 Audi A6 TDI is enough to induce us to take another round. But then again, so many Audis, so little time.
Specification and window sticker next page.