First Drive: 2012 Audi A6 luxury cars first drives audi
2012 Audi A6. Click image to enlarge
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Audi Canada

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Review and photos by Bob McHugh

This article was originally published Feb. 14, 2011

Photo Gallery:
2012 Audi A6

Sciacca region, Sicily – If you spend any time on this island, which is literally at the foot of Italy, you’ll be moved by its beauty; even a cloudy sky and torrential rain last week couldn’t dampen our appreciation for this dramatic landscape. We were there for the birth of the new Audi A6, a car the company claims is the world’s most successful executive sedan. While there are many luxury vehicles priced in the fifty-to-eighty-grand range in Canada, the A6 competes primarily, and is priced competitively, against the BMW 5 Series and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class.

First Drive: 2012 Audi A6 luxury cars first drives audi
2012 Audi A6. Click image to enlarge

Audi is an industry leader in lightweight aluminum body construction and advanced fuel-efficient technologies in both its gasoline and diesel engines. The new A6 offers an impressive 16 per cent reduction in fuel consumption when equipped with the 3.0-litre TFSI V6 engine edition that will spearhead its launch in Canada. In Europe, the A6 debuted with five power plants: two gasoline engines and three TDI (diesel) units. Later on, Canada is expected to get the 3.0-litre TDI and the 2.0-litre TFSI gasoline engine, which is an interesting move. A hybrid A6 is also in the works and is expected next year. It may come as a surprise that fuel economy is a concern for car owners in this price range, but it has proven to be an increasingly important factor for luxury buyers who are concerned about the social and environmental costs of poor fuel consumption.

All Audi gasoline engines have direct fuel injection, and a new stop-start feature. Stop-start turns the engine off when the car stops and automatically restarts it as the driver lifts foot pressure off the brake pedal. It’s a slick system in operation and provides a significant fuel saving, especially in city traffic.

First Drive: 2012 Audi A6 luxury cars first drives audi
First Drive: 2012 Audi A6 luxury cars first drives audi
2012 Audi A6. Click image to enlarge

The Canadian 3.0 TFSI engine will be mated to the latest Quattro permanent all-wheel drive system, with a crown-gear centre differential and a torque vectoring function. As well, Audi Drive Select, a system that allows the driver to choose various steering, suspension, engine and transmission settings, will be standard on the A6. A new “eco” mode has been added to the selection choices, and there’s no prize for guessing what it does.

The new styling changes are subtle and don’t dramatically change the overall look of the A6. However, it’s actually a little lower, lighter, and shorter, and new wind-cheating details have dropped its coefficient of drag to 0.26, which is sports car territory and exceptionally low for a sedan.

New optional LED (light emitting diode) headlights give the car an even more striking appearance from a front view. While the LED headlight offers similar illumination when compared to Xenon headlights, it consumes less power, and has a more natural look to its light. In addition, the A6’s fog and cornering light performance is improved.

First Drive: 2012 Audi A6 luxury cars first drives audi
First Drive: 2012 Audi A6 luxury cars first drives audi
First Drive: 2012 Audi A6 luxury cars first drives audi
2012 Audi A6. Click image to enlarge

The standard Xenon headlight unit comes with a LED daytime-running light strip that looks like a solid ribbon of light. The daytime running lights are generated by 24 white LEDs. Blue LEDs, which emit yellow light (a technical trick), provide the turn signal lights.

In the rear, the trunk opening is wider and gives even better access to its larger 530-litre cargo area. The taillight design also matches the new shape of the front headlights.

Inside the A6, Audi engineers have crafted a beautiful space that feels expansive and light, whether you’re sitting in the front or the back. The seats are well padded and very comfortable, and the dash illumination is spectacular when evening comes around. The cockpit area has a wrap-around inlay that arcs across the dash and runs into the front doors. The wide centre console and centre stack with a multi function monitor screen are oriented toward the driver. The screen is stored horizontally in the dash and automatically slides out into an upright position, when you start the engine.

I drove three different engine versions of the A6. The 3.0-litre TFSI gas engine, the first to arrive in Canada, uses a supercharger to boost intake air pressure and it can produce 300 horsepower. Needless to say, it’s no slouch and what I really love about the A6 is that it feels like you’re at the wheel of a smaller car, as it’s surprisingly agile for a big car.

First Drive: 2012 Audi A6 luxury cars first drives audi
2012 Audi A6. Click image to enlarge

Hopefully Canadian buyers won’t be waiting too long for the 3.0-litre TDI engine version – it’s great! Super quiet (for a diesel) and it has terrific low and mid-range torque qualities. It accelerated the A6 up some wickedly steep and twisty hills on the island almost as fast as it did on a level road.

Too bad we’re not getting the 2.0-litre TDI, as I drove one with a six-speed manual and really liked it. Yes, it’s noisier than the 3.0-litre TDI and doesn’t have as much power, but it is the most fuel efficient A6. Audi didn’t have the 2.0-litre TFSI gas engine version ready for this event.

The all-new 2012 Audi A6 will arrive at Canadian dealerships in the third quarter of 2011 and pricing and equipment details will be announced closer to the release date.