The Audi A6 is currently our favorite mid-size luxury sedan. it’s a truly Good. This is especially true of the brilliantly balanced 3.0T and the sporty S6 variant. But what about the price-leading A6 2.0T model? It’s the A6 that gives Audi dealers a banner ad template to lure customers into dealerships at an attractive price of less than $50,000 or an attractive monthly lease. Is it an unloved car, the kind that every dealer stores only one of in a lot? We tied our gear to one to find out.
Admittedly, our White Nougat Brown leather tester Ibis was barely a convertible, thanks to the inclusion of the Premium Plus package that adds $3,700 to the 2.0T Quattro’s base price of $49,325. This well-spent extra coin brings the A6 into the right luxury car, adding navigation, smart touchpad input for the MMI infotainment system, parking assist with rear camera, power-adjustable steering column, USB ports, auto-dimming heated exterior mirrors , a six-month subscription to Audi Connect services and blind spot monitors. A $900 warm-weather package and a nice 19-inch wheel assembly with all-season rubber brought the $800 to $54,725. We can imagine the A6 is quite nice without the luxury wheels, warm-weather package sunshades and automatic four-zone climate control, but the Premium Plus package feels somewhat essential, so consider $53,025 as the real entry price, which is still lower. Significantly from the starting point of $58,325 for the 3.0T model.
The real question is can we live without the A6 3.0T’s superior performance? In a recent test, the 2016 model, powered by a supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 with 333 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque, sped to 60 mph in just 4.6 seconds and through the quarter mile in 13.3. With a turbocharged 2.0T four-cylinder engine producing 252 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque, it was 1.5 seconds slower to 60 and tracked the 3.0T by roughly the same amount at the quarter-mile mark. The 3.0T engine also looks a lot better than the smooth but vibrant Quadruple.
Of course, 0 to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds isn’t exactly slow, but this is achieved by releasing 3000 rpm of brake torque. For real-world driving, Audi’s 7.1-second time from 5 to 60 mph is more indicative – and reflects the approximate time required for the car to rally itself, slow down, and get on the turbo. Hence, we left the transmission in Sport mode for much of our time with the car in traffic choked L.A.—which explains the remarkable 21 mpg fuel economy. Leaving in D, the time we waited for the engine to come to a full boil made us miss the lights and allow the lengths of cars to stretch ahead in stop-and-go jams—places that soon fill up with more attentive drivers with decisive right-footed (or perhaps naturally aspirated engines).
Our 2.0T trails significantly in maneuverability and braking compared to the 3.0T, collecting 0.83g Altima-like side grip and 175-foot brake shape from 70 to zero versus the 3.0T’s 0.92g and 156ft. Put some of that tolerance on the test car’s 3.0T 20-inch wheels and low-profile (255/35) Pirelli P Zero Performance tires. However, from our seat of pants, the 2.0T felt fully mounted and firmly planted during fast charging up and down the Angeles Crest and Angeles Forest Highway, which underscores why this car is so loved by our review team. The steering is direct and beautifully weighted, if down low. And while the brakes didn’t generate impressive numbers, pedal feel and response are almost perfect. It’s not hard to wonder what a stock 3.0T predecessor would do to this car.
The rest of the A6 needs no help. All models received an update in mid-2016 that brought new headlights and taillights, a sharper grille and revised bumpers. The interior changes are light, and it can be said that none of them were needed. The cabin remains the same, the quiet space it has always been, with distinctive Audi craftsmanship and attention to detail.
The A6 has won no fewer than four comparison tests since 2009 and scored a place in our Top 10 multiple times. Given the A6’s overall distinction in the areas of technology and luxury, the lackluster performance and unimpressive engine note in the 2.0T Quattro would do little to dampen our enjoyment of the model. Factor in the 2.0T’s attractive price tag—which, if you think about it, leaves some room in the budget for tires with higher rideability—and it’s still a winner in our book.