What's New for 1997
A new quattro Value Package is available with a power glass sunroof, larger alloy wheels, bigger tires and, of course, the quattro all-wheel-drive system. Selective unlocking capability expands to the remote keyless entry fob, and the alarm system now features interior monitoring. Jacquard cloth upholstery is new, and three new colors debut: Tornado Red, Volcano Black metallic and Byzantine metallic.
Despite a recent freshening, the A6 sedan and wagon are growing old. Sitting next to the outstanding A4 and the brand-new A8 in the showroom, the only Audi that looks more geriatric than the A6 is the Cabriolet. Still, this midlevel model is attractive, solid, roomy, and comfortable, with just the right amount of luxury and European flair to make it a viable alternative to other entry-level makes.
The A6's major shortcoming is its powerplant. A 172-horsepower 2.8-liter V6 engine, the same motor found in the lighter A4 2.8, is expected to motivate as much as 3,847 pounds when installed in an unloaded A6 Quattro Wagon. This just isn't enough power, and performance can be called leisurely at best. Handling is another matter. Steering is crisp with excellent feel, though too light with overboosted power assist. Brakes are outstanding, bringing the heavy A6 to a stop smoothly and surely.
Passengers in an A6 are certain to be comfortable, perched on Audi's traditionally supportive seats. Jacquard cloth upholstery is new for 1997, and Kodiak leather remains optional. Interior ambiance is rich with burled walnut inserts and a no-nonsense gauge layout that features soothing red backlighting at night. Some controls are difficult to figure out at first, but owners quickly adapt.
Audi's quattro all-wheel drive system is available on both wagon and sedan as a stand-alone $1,600 option or as part of a new Quattro Value Package that includes a power glass sunroof, larger wheels, and bigger tires for less than $900 more. Currently, Audi is pitching the A6 Quattro Wagon as an alternative to truck-like luxury SUVs. The marketing doesn't seem to be working. Sales through October, 1996, appeared to be on target to match 1995's tally, while Subaru sales skyrocket, thanks to all-wheel drive station wagons.
A completely redesigned A6 sedan is expected to debut in 1998, with a wagon variant following a year later. Styling will fall in line with the A4 and A8, and a more powerful engine choice will be available. Unless you're dying for an all-wheel drive German luxury car and find the A4 too small inside, we suggest consumers wait for the new A6.