2006 Audi A6 S-Line
2006 Audi A6 S-Line. Click image to enlarge


Review and photos by Peter Bleakney

Well, I’m finally getting used to it. In fact, I kinda like it. I’m speaking of Audi’s new (for 2005) corporate snout of course – that huge chromed trapezoidal horse collar that adorns the front of my 2006 A6 4.2 S-Line tester. Although it may be somewhat at odds with the rest of this sleek four-door Euro luxury sedan, you can’t argue that the in-your-face visage makes a statement, and in this league of high-falootin’ machinery, you want the plebs to know you’ve arrived.

The fact that the previous generation A6 now looks dull suggests Audi is on to something.

Once you get past the nose, this A6 4.2 is an impressive piece. The car has grown in every dimension, and the resulting interior space is generous. There is plenty of elbow room up front, and the back seat accommodation is downright limo-like. The trunk is a cavernous 15.9 cubic feet, complete with split 60/40 folding rear seats and ski pass-through.

The S-Line package, which tacks $3,750 onto the A6 4.2’s $74,940 base price,

2006 Audi A6 S-Line
2006 Audi A6 S-Line
2006 Audi A6 S-Line. Click image to enlarge

adds 5-spoke 18-inch wheels, sport suspension, S-Line bumpers and aluminum door sills, gray birch interior wood trim and headlight washers.

As would be expected in an Audi, the interior is a paragon of taste and execution. Every surface, be it metal, wood or plastic is a visual and tactile delight. One can’t help but feel special in this superbly crafted environment.

The 12-way heated leather chairs with lumbar adjustment offer a fine balance of comfort and support. The 4.2 comes with a power tilt and telescoping steering wheel (manually operated for the V6 model) and two-position memory for the drivers seat and outside mirror. An auto dimming rear view mirror with digital compass is also included.

2006 Audi A6 S-Line
2006 Audi A6 S-Line
2006 Audi A6 S-Line. Click image to enlarge

The central control knob and surrounding buttons of Audi’s Multi Media Interface (MMI) occupy most of the centre console. A seven-inch LCD screen lives centre-stage on the dash and communicates all the HVAC, sat/nav and audio information you can handle. Although this system is more intuitive than BMW’s iDrive, it can still be annoying, and the disclaimer screen that welcomes you with lawyer-speak every time you start up is a tiresome ritual.

No complaints with the drivetrain, however. The 4.2-litre, DOHC 40-valve V8 kicks out a healthy 335 hp at 6500 rpm and 310 lb/ft of torque at 3500 rpm, and rockets this big sedan with authority. Power delivery is silky-smooth and linear, and the muted howl from behind the firewall provides a pleasant soundtrack as the big sedan performs its claimed 6.0-second dash to 100 km/h.

The engine works in concert with a six-speed Tiptronic transmission. Shifts are seamless, but if you wish for more involvement, push the shift lever over to the right gate and tap forward for upshifts and back for downshifts. Shifts are much quicker than in the last few Tiptronics I’ve driven, although paddle shifters on the wheel would be a worthwhile addition, as they would keep your hands where they belong.

There is also a sport mode, in which the transmission hangs onto gears longer and the shifts are more aggressive.

Over a week of mixed driving, I saw a reasonable 11.5 L/100km.

While all of the A6’s competitors offer all-wheel-drive as an option, Audi’s dynamic Quattro system is standard, and bestows upon this luxury cruiser surefooted grip while powering through corners adding an extra helping of security and stability in inclement weather. The system is completely transparent in its operation, shuttling power to the wheel or wheels where it is needed most. And of course there is traction control, electronic stability control and ABS with brake assist. Keeping all this on the grey stuff are meaty P245/45×18 tires.

2006 Audi A6 S-Line
2006 Audi A6 S-Line. Click image to enlarge

Front and side airbags, as well as Sideguard head protection airbags for front and rear occupants are standard. All five seat belts feature automatic pretensioning, and the front head restraints are active.

I drove a 2005 A6 4.2 two about a year ago, and I found the brakes very grabby and difficult to modulate. This tester exhibited none of those traits, which makes me think Audi has been quietly ironing out the wrinkles of the A6.

Similarly, I had issues with the ride of that older tester, which served up a strange combination of too much float and too much impact harshness.

2006 Audi A6 S-Line
2006 Audi A6 S-Line. Click image to enlarge

With this S-Line’s sport suspension, Audi has tuned the front multi-link setup and rear self-tracking trapezoidal-link suspension to provide a very good sport/comfort compromise. Body motions are well controlled yet the ride is creamy smooth.

I’m still not crazy about the electronic variable assisted steering, which is unnaturally light and vague below 25 km/h. Granted, it firms up as speed increases, but it ultimately offers very little feedback, which is too bad, because a more tactile connection with the contact patches would make this car considerably more enjoyable.

And while I’m bitching, trying to select a radio station while driving in this car is not my idea of a good time. I understand the allure of one controller accessing many functions of a modern, high-technology automobile, but when a simple matter of switching stations requires one to peer at a screen while scrolling through a list via a roller on the steering wheel or the main MMI control knob, it seems, well, to be a step (actually several steps) in the wrong direction.

2006 Audi A6 S-Line
2006 Audi A6 S-Line. Click image to enlarge

Audi and Jaguar use touch screen systems, which work much better in my opinion.

Having said that, the Bose Premium Surround Sound system with AutoPilot Noise Compensation in this A6 sounded spectacular, and it had me rifling through my CD collection before every outing.

The 2006 A6 4.2 S-Line is a marvelously engineered car, and presents itself as a worthy and well-priced entrant in the high-end German luxury car arena. Here is a sedan that drives the way it looks. It eats up the miles with a liquid, serpentine smoothness. It may not be as sporting as the BMW 5-Series, but you can’t get all-wheel-drive with a V8 in the Bimmer. The only other direct German competitor is the 302-hp Mercedes-Benz E500 with 4MATIC, and this sedan starts at $88,550.



Pricing

  • Base price: $74,940
  • Options: $9,135 (S-Line package $3750, Cold Weather package (heated rear seats, removable ski sack) $535, Technology package (voice recognition for phone, CD and navigation, advanced key, Parktronic rear parking assistance, DVD-based Audi Navigation System) $4200, power rear window and manual rear side sunshades $650)
  • Freight: $700
  • A/C tax: $100
  • Price as tested: $84,875 Click here for options, dealer invoice prices and factory incentives

Specifications

  • Click here for complete specifications


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