Attractive, fun-to-drive, and priced well against its competition, the 2011 Audi A6 carries forward the model's strong points as it nears replacement in 2012. The four-door sedan or five-door Avant wagon looks good, if somewhat less distinctive than its counterparts at other brands. The large grille stands out among the rest of the subdued, restrained details. MotorAuthority rates the A6 a solid 8 in its segment.
Under the hood, there are three different engine available: a standard V-6, a supercharged V-6, and a V-8, but most will choose the supercharged engine for its solid mix of power and economy. The base V-6's 3.2-liter displacement is good for 265 horsepower, run through a CVT (continuously variable transmission) with seven programmed shift points that's common to the A6 range. The combo is good for 6.9-second 0-60 mph dashes and economy of 18/28 mpg.
The more interesting V-6 adds a supercharger and cuts the displacement to 3.0 liters, raising out put to 300 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. That translates to 0-60 mph in 6 seconds flat and 18/26 mpg.
The 4.2-liter V-8 adds another 50 horsepower and shaves 0.2 seconds off the 60 mph time, but is thirstier at 16/23 mpg.
But does it handle? In a word, yes. Light controls, nimble steering and responsive brakes make all 2011 A6s rewarding from the driver's seat. Adding the sport package heightens performance with larger 18- or 19-inch alloy wheels, but also adds a degree of harshness to the ride.
The cabin itself is standard Audi, a remix of familiar yet somewhat plain shapes and simple controls. Wood is plentiful, though there's less than there used to be, and the arrangement of the controls seems cluttered rather than clean. Roominess isn't especially great, being not much more spacious than the A4, and noticeably smaller than the BMW 5-Series or Infiniti M. Somewhat flat, over-firm front seats make it less comfortable than it could be, and a rear bench molded for two passengers means it's not really up to 5-passenger duty except for short trips.
A feature-packed navigation system is standard equipment on the 2011 A6, though it sports Audi's proprietary MMI interface, which has been a cause for confusion and frustration since its introduction. It's easier than some competitive system, not as easy as others, and not to everyone's taste, though it is powerful and beautiful in action.
For a deeper look at this luxury sedan/wagon line, see TheCarConnection's most recent full review of the Audi A6 here.