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Audi A6 TDI review and test drive

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The quest for fuel economy has pushed hybrids and electric cars into increased popularity. But it is also means diesels are gaining in popularity and acceptance. The slow, smoking, hard-to-start relic is a thing of the past. An Audi A6 diesel means 30mpg on the low end, 240hp starting at 3500rpm and muscle car torque of 428lb-ft at an absurdly low 1750rpm. No loss of traction, no loss of race.

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Compared to the fuel economy oriented hybrids, this diesel produces roughly fifty to one hundred more horsepower, over one hundred more foot-pounds of torque, and no impact from lithium mining. Instead the 2014 Audi A6 TDI meets strict California emissions and achieves 40mpg at 80mph. Greg Helstrup of Collateral Resources, Inc. turned in his leased Audi S4 that I reviewed a few years ago for a more efficient commuter.

The direct competitor is the BMW 535d, similar power and mileage but one distinct difference, it isn’t all-wheel drive. Punch the throttle, turn the steering wheel and the all wheel drive enables laying down all the power. The BMW will slip and engage traction control easily. Full disclosure, the author has extensive experience with a BMW 335d and the traction control.

Not aggressively styled on the outside, although the deep grill, 20” ten-spoke V-design wheels and dual exhaust give it a sporty appearance. Inside is the typical Audi interior excellence with plenty of driver information and the Multimedia Interface. The wide center console allows for a separate volume knob within easy reach of the main control dial for a more cohesive theme. Also seemingly rare, even in black leather and dashboard cars, is a black headliner.

The auto-stop/start feature is subtle but still noticeable. It is dependent on brake pedal pressure and with a hard enough tug on the steering wheel, the engine restarts. After that, steering effort is light and the cornering is surprisingly flat for a big sedan. Acceleration and throttle response at lower speeds is excellent with the 8-speed automatic shifting smoothly. The Pirelli P-Zero summer compound tires offer serious grip but when driven hard, the tell-tale rubber on the white paint behind them gave away earlier driving behavior.

Amenities included heated front and rear seats along with the steering wheel. The windshield wipers are hidden from view and rear sunshades keep the car cooler. However, the tilt and telescoping steering wheel is still manually adjusted.

With all wheel drive as the great enabler, a roomy, brilliant and luxurious interior, over 500 miles per tank and a no-compromise people-hauler size, this may be the best all-around sedan on the road today.

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