Test driving a performance luxury sedan such as the new 2014 Audi A6 TDI can be a sublime experience. One of a number of their cars they now offer with a clean diesel engine this year, it's both powerful and enormously fuel efficient.
The staring attraction is the latest generation 3.0 liter V6 turbo-diesel from VW/Audi which has 240 horsepower and an astonishing 428 lb-ft. of torque. This power is put to all four wheels through an 8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission with sport and manual shifting modes.
While the horsepower is ho-hum by today's measure, diesel torque is what this engine is all about. It has the turbocharger mounted up in the valley of the engine with a catalyst directly on the unit. This provides for faster warmup and immediate cleansing of the exhaust.
The engine revs much more freely that one might expect from a diesel. It's smooth and has a willing spirit for more aggressive driving on the back roads. It's 8-speed Tiptronic transmission does an excellent job of shifting gears both manually or automatically.
This powertrain while able to give you 0-60 times of about 5.5 seconds as well as a rewarding driving behavior is rated at 24 mpg city, 38 mpg highway and 29 mpg combined.
The A6 TDI features auto start-stop to save fuel when in traffic. The system works seamlessly and the engine fires up surprisingly quick. It's more refined in fact than many systems we have sampled in gasoline powered cars.
Audi has retained its style throughout the decades, evolving ever so slightly as each generation of their cars comes along. The A6 has continued to get sharper and sleeker, with an ever lower looking silhouette.
Our tester features the sport package which has 10-spoke 20” wheels with summer rubber which really give it a sinister stance. Signature LED daytime running lamps are paired with self-adjusting and turning Xenon headlamps for excellent visibility in the day and night driving sight.
Overall the look is clean and crisp, businesslike if I may say. It's styling says high performance in a very subtle way, an art form Audi mastered decades ago.
The interior of our Audi A6 was of course lined with sumptuous leather, genuine wood trim and a host of technologies to make life behind the wheel enjoyable. The Nougat Brown leather contrasted well with the black dash and headliner, giving the atmosphere of a dark warm club.
The cock-pit of course is all about the driver, with near perfect ergonomic design. Gauges and driver information in the instrument cluster are well laid out and easy to read. The center display can be customized to display your preferred information as well.
Our A6 was a Prestige S-Line trim grade which brought us heated and cooled front seats and four-zone climate control. The power tilt and telescoping steering wheel as well as power seats were all able to get me seated right, and stored in memory settings.
The rear seat area is coddling comfortable with good leg room and seat height. Air vents can be found on the console as well as the upper door pillars. With the four-zone climate control, each side of the rear cabin gets their own temperature adjustment.
Audi has always offered some of the best interiors in the auto business and this A6 is no less up to that notion. Fit and finish and quality genuine materials make for a wonderful place to come home to.
In our week with the A6 TDI we actualized a combined observed fuel economy of 34.5 mpg on a tank. That represents 5.5 mpg more than the EPA window sticker promises, even with some of our more spirited driving.
And spirited driving is what the Audi's chassis well invites. Its multi-link front suspension and trapezoidal link rear sets the tires at perfect pitch to the road surface at all times. Matched with our tester's sport spring and damper calibration which came with the sport package,it felt pretty sublime.
On the road, this car gives you everything you would expect from a German sedan. The chassis is stiff, suspension taut and the steering precise. Even though this has the latest generation of electric power steering, it offers up plenty of road feel through the wheel
The A6 feels substantial from behind the wheel despite the lightweight body which uses a good deal of aluminum. Road noise is moderate, likely attributed to our tester's 20” wheels and summer rubber. The TDI engine however is whisper quiet at highway speeds.
Part of our A6 technology suite was a number of driver assistance features like radar cruise control forward, and side warnings as well as an active lane keeping program.
In all, the Audi A6 is a well-rounded and highly competitive car in its class regardless of which engine you choose. Competing against the Mercedes E-Class, BMW 5-Series, and Lexus GS the A6 stands out in that it feels a genuine value at it's price.
With the fuel economy we achieved and the overall sense of performance this sedan offers, it seems hard to look at their other engine choices such as the base turbocharged four-cylinder or even the larger V8 unless you just wanted the extra power.
The 2014 Audi A6 TDI is a no compromises luxury sedan that also rewards your wallet at the pump.