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2018 Audi A6 Overview
Audi makes only a few minor updates to its A6 midsize luxury sedan for 2018, as the next-generation A6 completes road testing in preparation for its unveiling sometime next year. The current A6, now at the end of its fourth generation, debuted in 2012 and received a mid-generation refresh in 2016, which updated its exterior design, engine and transmission lineup, and tech features. According to reports, the new A6 will feature a more aggressive grille, reshaped headlights, larger wheel wells, and exterior design elements drawn from the smaller Audi A4 sedan, which entered its sixth generation in 2017 and is helping the automaker establish its design path into the future. Expect a new MLB platform borrowed from the larger A8 sedan and a wide range of design, technology, and safety upgrades when the new A6 arrives.
Until then, the 2018 A6 makes do with a few small changes to its standard equipment list. As in previous years, Audi offers the A6 in Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige trim levels. For 2018, the entry-level Premium trim gains the automaker's advanced key system with push-button start and MMI Navigation Plus with voice control as standard features, while the Premium Plus trim adds standard LED headlights and full LED interior lighting. The top-line Prestige trim gains a new top-view camera as standard.
Last year’s A6 Competition trim is now offered as an all-new performance package for the Premium Plus and Prestige trims. It kicks up the A6's performance credentials with such features as a sport suspension, a quattro sport differential, and unique 20-inch titanium matte wheels with summer tires, while red brake calipers and black mirror housings dress up the exterior. Inside, upgrades include S sport seats with diamond stitiching, a three-spoke flat-bottom steering wheel with paddle shifters, brushed aluminum inlays, and a black cloth headliner.
Throughout its run, the 5-passenger A6 has delivered a potent mixture of power, performance, and handling with numerous upscale features, and that continues for 2018. As in previous years, the A6 is available with either front-wheel-drive (FWD) or the automaker's quattro all-wheel-drive (AWD) system, as well as a choice of two engines and two transmissions. Both engines deliver good performance, reviewers note, as well as good fuel economy, although they do require premium fuel.
A turbocharged TFSI 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine, updated in 2016, provides base power for the A6 Premium and Premium Plus trims. It delivers 252 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque and links to a 7-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission on FWD trims and an 8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission on AWD trims. The base turbo drives the A6 from 0-to-60 in 6.7 seconds and posts decent fuel-economy numbers of 24 mpg city, 34 highway, and 28 combined. Buyers seeking better performance can opt for the new supercharged 3.0-liter TFSI direct-injected V6 powerplant from last year’s Competition trim, now standard on the Prestige and available on the Premium Plus. It delivers 340 hp and 325 lb-ft and makes the jaunt to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds. The supercharged engine mates to the 8-speed automatic transmission and manages still-decent EPA figures of 21, 29, and 24. V6-powered trims come exclusively with quattro AWD.
The A6 gets high marks from reviewers for its performance-oriented handling, which helps place it near the top of the midsize luxury sedan class. The electromechanical power steering on FWD trims has a precise feel, while AWD trims upgrade to the more finely tuned Servotronic speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion steering. Both configurations provide good stability, even during aggressive manoeuvers. The A6's ride can feel a little stiff at times, however, especially on rougher roads, which affects handling and ride comfort.
The A6’s exterior remains unchanged for 2018, with a streamlined look highlighted by a long nose, short overhangs, a low roof, and clean, straight sidelines. The current Singleframe grille and front end seem slightly outdated, especially given the recent redesigns of some of the sedan's stablemates, but the A6's exterior design has held up well overall through its current generation. The A6 comes standard with such features as automatic high-intensity-discharge (HID) headlights with daytime running lights, heated auto-dimming side mirrors with integrated LED turn signals, heated windshield washer nozzles, dual exhaust pipes, and LED taillights and rear fog lights. The Premium Plus trim gets LED headlights, while the Prestige trim adds a power-operated trunk lid. It rides on standard 18-inch wheels with 19- and 20-inch wheel options available, including 20-inch black wheels as part of the Black Optic package.
Inside the A6's spacious, comfortable cabin, passengers will find plenty of legroom and headroom (especially in the rear seats), as well as quality materials, soft-touch surfaces, and a high level of fit-and-finish throughout. Even the base Premium trim comes well-equipped with leather upholstery, 8-way power-adjustable heated front seats, 3-zone automatic climate control, wood and aluminum inlays, a sunroof, and the automaker's MMI infotainment system with a reversing camera, satellite radio, and a 10-speaker audio system. The Premium Plus adds 4-zone climate control, navigation, HD Radio, and a 14-speaker Bose Surround Sound system, while the Prestige upgrades to perforated leather upholstery, 12-way power-adjustable front seats with ventilation, and a head-up display. The A6 offers a fairly generous cargo capacity of 14.1 cubic feet, although the trunk opening is a little too small for larger items.
Safety features on the A6 are equally plentiful and include 8 standard airbags with knee and thorax side airbags as well as Audi's Pre Sense Basic system, which detects if a collision is imminent and adjusts the windows and seat belts to ensure passenger safety. All other expected safety features, including electronic stability control, traction control, and antilock brakes (ABS) with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist, are present, although more advanced safety equipment will have to wait for the next generation.
The A6 runs in a particularly competitive market segment, facing off against such iconic vehicles as the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Cadillac CTS, Lexus GS, and Jaguar XF. Despite its generational age and the growing number of years since its last full update, the A6 has remained popular with buyers, and sales have actually increased since last year. While not as popular as the smaller A4 or the more versatile Q5 SUV, the A6 remains an important part of Audi's lineup, and it should see a significant boost of interest from buyers with the debut of the next-generation model.
Rob has been a contributor to CarGurus since 2007, and an automotive test-driver and writer since the early ’90s. He’s test-driven everything from BMWs and Jags to Bentleys and Saabs, with an occasional Range Rover, Ferrari, Porsche or Lamborghini thrown in. He also created the annual Car of the Year and Exotic Car of the Year awards for Robb Report magazine. He currently resides in California.
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