The Audi A6 was facelifted for 2016, but it’s barely any different from the A6 of 2015 and the years prior. That, however, is a very good thing, since we’ve long ranked it at or near the top of its segment. Audi’s mid-sizer started winning comparison tests in 2009. Since then, A6s have been victorious three more times. We’ve been suckers for the cars’ smooth powertrains, responsive handling, intuitive interfaces, comfortable cabins, and smart styling.
Automotive facelifts usually involve head- and taillamp revisions, and the 2016 A6 is no exception. The new headlights, with optional full LEDs, have great-looking jet-age airplane graphics, and the taillights are similarly attractive. These and other tweaks for 2016 help the newest A6 stay fashionably fresh in a highly competitive segment.
The A6 also stacks up well from a performance standpoint. The car tested here had the 3.0-liter supercharged V-6—the bestselling powerplant in the lineup and the same engine that has powered all of the aforementioned comparison-test winners. All A6s with the 3.0-liter feature Quattro all-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The 3.0T has 23 additional horsepower for 2016, and it showed at the test track. We clocked a zero-to-60-mph time of 4.6 seconds, which is a half-second better than the quickest A6 3.0T we’d previously recorded and a full second ahead of the most recent test subject. Similarly, the 2016 model’s quarter-mile result of 13.3 seconds at 105 mph bests all A6s that have gone before. The Mercedes-Benz E400 is at least a few tenths behind on both marks, and the aging BMW 535i is even slower. Quattro helps the A6 match the 60-mph sprint of the hot-rod Cadillac CTS Vsport, but the major horsepower advantage of the Caddy’s twin-turbocharged V-6 means it walks away from the Audi in the quarter-mile.
The 333-hp Audi engine has lots of pull—and not just when the gas pedal is pinned to the floor. Torque, which peaks at 325 lb-ft from 2900 to 5300 rpm, comes “at the twitch of a big toe,” as we noted previously. The ubiquitous ZF eight-speed shifts exactly when it should: quickly when you want it to, imperceptibly in more relaxed circumstances. The gear selector itself has been revised, and it’s more straightforward to operate (its appearance isn’t as high-tech, but we don’t mind).
Speaking of appearances, the simply styled but handsome A6 gets plenty of approving glances in parking lots, although we thought the black grille looked somewhat drab on this uplevel car. The dapper 20-inch “Black Optic” wheels aid the styling cause but, thankfully, don’t seem to compromise ride quality. The A6 nearly has the presence of the larger A8, but it almost feels as small as an A4 when you’re hustling it on a back road. We’d prefer a bit less road noise and body roll, and the steering is a tad slow off-center, but these characteristics are not inappropriate for a car like this, which is more sporting luxury shuttle than sports car.
And few sports cars contain this many creature comforts. The color head-up display is welcome, and adjusting its settings doesn’t require digging into any complicated menus. Adjusting the height of the image is as easy as turning a dedicated knob; push the knob and the image disappears. Operating the familiar MMI infotainment system is nearly as simple. Use the navigation function, and you’ll be treated to a high-resolution Google Maps image not just on the seven-inch main MMI screen but also on the smaller redundant display in the middle of the gauge cluster. Other functions (audio, phone) can be quickly and easily called up on either screen. Climate-controlled seats and lovely ash wood inlays are luxurious touches.
All of this excellence doesn’t come cheap. As tested, our A6 Prestige cost $66,900. Still, that’s a good value for a car with so many luxury features that also drives this well and looks and feels so nice. And that’s why we continue to give the A6 top marks.