First Look: 2012 Audi A6

First Look

The Volkswagen Group has big plans. They want to be the biggest carmaker in the world, and since Audi now brings in 47 percent of VW Group's profits, the pressure is on for Audi to make cars that will appeal to the largest number of people. Unfortunately, as we all know, trying to make a product that pleases everybody is futile, and quite often leads to mediocrity (*cough*Nickleback*cough*), but this new A6 has somehow managed to avoid this classic pitfall.

Ok, maybe they didn't avoid it entirely. The A6 was once most stylish car in Audi's lineup, it was where the designers took the most chances and it determined the styling language to be used on the rest of the lineup. It seems that the A7 has now taken that position in the lineup and "bold" would be the last word one would use to describe the A6's styling. It is actually an attractive car, but it's unlikely that you would even notice. There is a very real chance that the first thought that pops into your head upon seeing the new A6 will be "huh, they made the A8 smaller".

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In short, the A6 has lost its uniqueness. But if your car's lack of uniqueness isn't the kind of thing that might keep you up at night, then you will probably like the A6 quite a bit. This is because the rest of the car is very well executed. The engines offered for the US are a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and a 3.0-liter supercharged V6, with 211 and 310 horsepower respectively. One might think that neither of those numbers is terribly impressive, but Audi's extensive use of aluminum has kept the A6's weight down to a waifish 3,500 pounds.

That's significantly less than similarly-sized offering from competing companies, even with the all-wheel-drive system. That means all of those horses are put to good use, and the A6 is also far more nimble than one would expect from a car this size. Fuel economy is improved by this lightness as well, and for those who are really serious about fuel economy Audi will mate the four-cylinder engine to an electric motor. This is the first ever A6 to offer a hybrid drivetrain. Even though the US does not yet have a diesel option for US customers, Audi (and VW Group in general) are committed to bringing more oil burners to the US.

Rumor has it that we can expect a diesel in 2013. Our advice, remember that Audi wins races with diesel race cars and not hybrids, so that's where the development money goes. Audi's MMI system is as good as ever, being both easy to use and full of features. It also offers WiFi connectivity for up to eight devices. All in all, the A6 is a more than adequate contender in its market, and what it lacks in flair it makes up for by being easy to deal with. Now we're just waiting to see what kind of monster engine goes in it to make the new RS6, whenever that happens.