THE GOODWith its Quattro all-wheel-drive, well-tuned suspension and supercharged 3-liter engine, the 2016 Audi A6 handles well and accelerates quickly. A 4G data connection supports integrated online destination search and Google Earth imagery, and Audi finally implements USB ports for audio device connectivity.
THE BADMinor criticisms only, but the head-up display could show more explicit turn information and the infotainment system would benefit from well-known third-party apps.
THE BOTTOM LINEThe 2016 Audi A6 is an extraordinarily well-mannered car, comfortable for the everyday commute and capable on country roads, with a full course of connected cabin technology putting useful driving and location information at your fingertips.
Driving the 2016 Audi A6, I realize the need to pay more than usual attention to my speed. The car smoothly crosses speed limits before I notice, feeling pretty much the same at 35 mph as at 70 mph. Oddly, the engine isn’t extraordinarily powerful nor does the ride quality benefit from an air suspension. The car just goes well, very well.
Fortunately, the A6’s head-up display conveniently projects the speed on the windshield, right in my field of view.
Audi’s second largest sedan, this generation of the A6 came out in 2011, but it gets a few upgrades for the 2016 model year. With the A6, Audi shows it can partially conquer the disparity between automotive and tech product cycles, upgrading the dashboard electronics outside of a generational update.
Audi improved the new A6’s already impressive dashboard electronics by upgrading from a 3G to 4G built-in data connection, installing a faster Nvidia processor and adding features to the navigation and stereo system software. Efficiency improvements mean a horsepower increase and improved fuel economy for this generation, as well.
The base 2016 A6, with a 2-liter turbocharged engine and front-wheel drive, goes for $47,125, but the model I drove came with Quattro all-wheel drive and a 3-liter supercharged V-6, starting at $58,325. Bumping it up to Prestige trim and adding a few other package brought the total as tested to $66,875. UK buyers will only find diesel, or TDI, A6es on the dealer lot, with a price of £32,295 for the 2-liter base model. The base A6 in Australia gets by with a 1.8-liter turbocharged engine, at a price of AU$89,061.
One of the remarkable things pioneered by Audi and in full display in the A6 is the integration of Google Earth and the navigation system. I never get tired of seeing satellite imagery on the LCD, overlaid with road markings and live traffic for ease of navigation. While this system worked fast enough in previous iterations of the A6, the imagery loads more quickly over the new 4G data connection. And I was pleased to see the navigation system automatically switch over to its stored, graphical maps when the data connection dropped out.
Audi retains its Multimedia Interface (MMI) dial controller, buttons and touchpad on the console, which let me browse menus and select functions. Along with typical destination options such as address and points-of-interest database searches, the A6 also offers online destination search with results from Google and a new freeform search, which immediately began listing results from the car’s onboard data as I entered letters, matching business, city and street names. It is the quickest way to find a destination, working even faster than the online option.
Under route guidance, Audi supplements onscreen turn directions with indications on the head-up display. However, the simple blue lines projected on the windshield, lacking even street names, often left me wondering which turn I should actually take.
The display and MMI show the A6’s age, as Audi rolled out its new Virtual Cockpit display and refined MMI in the, a whole new infotainment interface that will find its way throughout the Audi lineup. However, Audi manages to replicate a bit of the Virtual Cockpit interface in the A6 by showing the navigation maps on the small instrument cluster LCD, which sits between the analog gauges.
The A6’s data connection also supports live traffic, current public parking garage capacity when available, gasoline prices, weather and my favorite, a sort of location-based Wikipedia showing interesting locations in the car’s vicinity.
One of my constant complaints about Audi vehicles has been the Audi Music Interface, a proprietary port requiring a multitude of adapter cables to support iPhones, USB drives and other music storage devices. The new A6 does away with that legacy, adopting the industry’s more widely used USB ports. Two of them sit in the console, although only one supports iOS devices. Other audio sources include Bluetooth streaming, an onboard hard drive, an SD card slot, and satellite and HD radio.
Audi also upgraded the stereo system so that I could browse my iPhone’s music library using the MMI when it was paired through Bluetooth. Not every car has that capability yet.
The Prestige trim meant a Bose audio system, with 14 speakers, for the A6. While the Bose system is certainly a step up from the standard 10-speaker system, it falls a little short of finely detailed audiophile quality. I never felt a really immersive listening experience with this system. Hardcore audiophiles will want to get the available Bang and Olufsen system, with 1,300 watts and 15 speakers.