What's New for 2008
All 2008 Audi A6 sedans and Avants receive last year's previously optional "S line" exterior trim package as standard. Satellite radio, headlight washers and seatback storage pockets are now standard as well. New features include an S line interior package with sportier cabin trim and a lane departure warning system.
In recent years, Audi has been making big strides in terms of improving its recognition in the marketplace as a premium European automaker. A key component to the brand's effort is the A6. Now in its third generation, this midsize sedan and wagon (known as the Avant) boasts V6 or V8 power, the Quattro all-wheel-drive system and class-leading interior quality. Plus, with a starting price of less than $45,000, the V6-powered 2008 A6 dramatically undercuts models from BMW and Mercedes-Benz and easily matches up to competitors from Japan.
In an effort to increase the A6's visual appeal, the former S line exterior trim package has been added to all models for 2008. This includes a new grille and bumpers, an integrated rear trunk spoiler, a rear diffuser and 18-inch wheels. For those looking for a more sporting look inside, a new S line interior package is now available that includes front sport seats, a three-spoke steering wheel and various decorative additions.
Buyers can choose from two varieties of 2008 Audi A6 sedan (there is also a high-performance S6 variant), the V6-powered 3.2 and V8-powered 4.2. Neither will set the world ablaze with their acceleration, but these world-class engines manage to propel the A6 with more than enough gusto for most luxury buyers. For those interested in extra utility, the sleek A6 Avant wagon is an excellent choice, providing arguably more style than the other wagons in its class can muster.
Virtually all A6s found at Audi dealerships come with options on them, but even then, a well-equipped 3.2 model still rings in at less than its German competition. Only the Acura RL, Cadillac STS and Infiniti M35 can match the A6 3.2's value. The A6 4.2, on the other hand, though costing less than German peers, is quite a bit pricier than some rivals, but remains one of the very few V8-powered cars in its class to offer all-wheel drive.
On the whole, we're pretty fond of the A6. Although not as fun as the BMW 5 Series and not as prestigious as the Mercedes E-Class, the 2008 Audi A6 is an excellent example of a car that does almost everything right. Whether you go for the sedan or wagon, the A6's abundant luxury, sporty handling and comfortable ride make it a pleasurable vehicle for nearly all occasions.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2008 Audi A6 is available as a sedan and Avant (wagon). The sedan comes in 3.2 and 4.2 trim levels, and these numbers roughly correspond to the size of engine fitted. The Avant comes in the 3.2 trim only. Standard features on the 3.2 sedan include 18-inch alloy wheels, wood interior trim, a trip computer, leather seating, power front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, Audi's MMI control interface and a 10-speaker stereo with a glovebox-mounted CD changer and satellite radio. The 3.2 Avant is similar but adds a sunroof. The top-of-the-line 4.2 sedan provides adaptive xenon headlights, a sunroof, heated front seats, auto-dimming mirrors, upgraded leather upholstery and driver memory settings.
Nearly all A6 3.2 models found at dealerships will come with a premium package that essentially adds the features of the 4.2. Other options include 19-wheels with performance tires, a sport-tuned suspension, an adaptive air suspension, rear park assist with a rearview camera, a lane departure warning system, adaptive cruise control, a navigation system, iPod integration and voice-recognition technology.
Powertrains and Performance
Despite its name, the A6 3.2 features a 3.1-liter V6 rated at 255 horsepower and 243 pound-feet of torque. The A6 4.2 has a 4.2-liter V8 that puts out 350 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque. The sedan is available with either engine, while the wagon comes with the V6 only. Both engines feature direct fuel-injection technology, which optimizes performance and efficiency via ultra-precise fuel delivery. The 3.2 front-wheel-drive sedan has a continuously variable transmission (with driver-selectable shift points), while all other A6s come with a six-speed automatic transmission and the Quattro all-wheel-drive system.
Though the V6 is still a little short on low-end torque, it pulls with authority through the midrange. We timed a 3.2 Quattro sedan at 7.9 seconds from zero to 60 mph. As expected, the V8 is as smooth and potent as any eight-cylinder in the class and posts a 0-60-mph time of 7.1 seconds.
All 2008 Audi A6 models come with antilock disc brakes, stability control, front-seat side airbags and full-length head curtain airbags. Rear-seat side airbags are optional. The A6 performed admirably in crash testing done by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, earning the top rating of "Good" in both frontal-offset and side-impact tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
Since the mid-1990s, other carmakers have attempted to match Audi's superior cabin craftsmanship, but the German brand has continually managed to improve upon near-perfection. The A6's interior is a superb example of this, with exquisite materials, meticulous fit and finish and an overall attractive design. If you bought one based on its luxurious cabin alone, you wouldn't be disappointed.
All A6 sedans and Avant wagons come with the Multi Media Interface (MMI) vehicle management system, which controls entertainment, communication and optional navigation functions via a 7-inch LCD display and a mouselike controller with supporting buttons mounted on the center console. There is a steep learning curve involved, but it's much more user-friendly than BMW's iDrive system. All A6s are particularly roomy, while the Avant wagon offers a spacious 34 cubic feet behind its rear seats and 59 cubes with them folded.
While the 2008 Audi A6's handling is softer than that of other top midsize luxury cars, it provides an excellent ride around town, along with predictable reflexes and precise steering through turns. The 3.1-liter V6 doesn't have the punch of the bigger V8, but it's no slouch and should provide adequate thrust for most luxury buyers. During high-speed cruising, the A6 provides a serene cabin and a confident feel at the wheel. Also, its Quattro all-wheel-drive system affords it prodigious grip around turns that makes spirited driving that much more fun, while at the same time providing additional security in foul weather.