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2016 Audi A6

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Base Price: $46,200
Price as Tested: $55,775

Just a tweak here and a small enhancement there sum up the changes in the 2016 Audi A6. After all, why mess with one of the better midsize luxury sedans?

I’ve had a love affair with Audi since my parents presented me with a new 1973 Audi 100 LS as a college graduation present. Yep, I’m that old. Front-wheel drive was still pretty much a novelty in the early 70s. That alone provided some bragging rights when talking up my ride among friends and family. Audi was somewhat of an upstart brand at that time; certainly not enjoying anything even resembling the same luxury cachet of Mercedes-Benz or even BMW at the time.

It was a blast to drive and I remember it as handling well, too; although, at that early stage in my driving career, I didn’t have anynews-2016-audi-a6-exterior-6 sort of depth of experience to which to compare it. It certainly handled better than my mother’s 1962 Chevy Biscayne that I drove through high school. A fairly bare-bones version, my 100 LS lacked air conditioning and had a two-speaker AM/FM radio audio system. Some friends pitched together to buy me an eight-track tape deck as another graduation gift. I immediately had it installed in my new car. I was stepping in high cotton. Yes, I have always loved Audi.

I was stoked when an A6 appeared in my driveway for a week’s evaluation a couple of months ago. The only thing that would have made for a better experience would have been a 1,000-mile road trip. Driving the A6 on the open highway is something like sailing a 200-foot Feadship through the Mediterranean on a calm day. It’s power meets grace.

I had to settle for zipping around the Greenville area. I did point it toward Asheville one afternoon, but turned back before actually reaching the city limits. Quiet? You bet. Roomy and comfortable? Check.

There are a few mechanical changes for this year; but in terms of what is easy to see or interface with, the front and rear designs are refreshed, upgraded connectivity includes Siri Eyes Free integration, and the next-gen Audi MMI systems interface that includes 4G LTE capability and available built-in Wi-Fi.

My test A6 was a 2.0T quattro Tiptronic. What that means is that among the three available A6 powerplants, my sedan had the base 252-horsepower 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder turning all four wheels through a driver-shiftable, eight-speed automatic transmission. Despite the heft of all-wheel drive and the smaller engine, Audi claims it can gallop to 60 miles per hour in less than six seconds! Mileage is a respectable 22 mpg in the city, 32 mpg on the highway and 26 mpg combined.

Other engine choices include the 333-horsepower 3-liter V6 and the 240-horsepower 3-liter V6 TDI turbo diesel. Both are a few tenths of a second quicker in a 0-to-60 sprint than the 2.0T. As you might expect, the TDI has better mileage numbers with a government-estimated 25 mpg city/38 highway and 29 combined. The V6 is the least fuel efficient of the three at 20/30/24.

Superb handling comes at a price; usually it’s a firm ride, which is certainly the case with the A6. Under most conditions it’s silky smooth, but broken pavement or railroad tracks will be noticed through the seat of your pants. Steering response is immediate and this sedan always feels planted when cornering. Audi Drive Select – standard throughout the A6 lineup – allows the driver to tailor steering, shift points and accelerator-pedal feel to his or her preference.

news-2016-audi-a6-interior-02Inside, the A6 is spacious and well appointed. Audi’s attention to interior styling and detail is unparalleled among luxury carmakers. The leather-covered seats are supportive and welcoming. The three-spoke, leather-wrapped steering wheel fills your hands. Audi’s MMI systems interface isn’t overly complicated. There simply isn’t anything to complain about.

Each of the A6’s six grades is loaded with standard features. Even the entry-level trim comes with auto xenon headlights, automatic wipers, sunroof, full power accessories, leather seating, tri-zone automatic climate control, MMI system interface, Bluetooth connectivity, 5-inch display and a 10-speaker audio system with USB port.

As you climb through the ascending trim levels to the $63,700 TDI Prestige quattro, the list of goodies swells to include a 7-inch touchscreen, navigation system, remote keyless entry and keyless start, adaptive LED headlights, head-up display, power-folding outboard mirrors, ventilated seats, front/rear parking sensors, rearview camera, blind-spot monitoring, a Bose-infused 14-speaker surround-sound system, and a whole lot more.

My test A6 2.0T quattro had a number of options and packages totaling $5,900.

Audi has come a long way since I first climbed behind the wheel of my 100 LS, but the brand still provides more than expected. That certainly proved true with the A6.