What's New for 2009
The 2009 Audi A6 boasts a new supercharged V6 -- the misleadingly named 3.0T -- that's optional on the sedan and mandatory on the Avant wagon. A newly simplified trim level structure allows buyers some freedom to mix and match engines and trim packages. Other changes include freshened styling front and rear, updated graphics for the instrument cluster and a 40/60 front/rear split for the Quattro all-wheel-drive system. Finally, last year's optional sport-tuned suspension, air suspension and 19-inch wheels have been ditched in favor of a retuned standard suspension across the lineup.
The 2009 Audi A6's saving grace may well be its new supercharged V6, which goes by the handle "3.0T." But wait, isn't "T" supposed to stand for "turbocharged"? Why, yes; it has in Audi's past 1.8T and 2.0T models. In this case, though, "T" is for "supercharged." Never mind why -- all you need to know is that this engine could single-handedly make the A6 relevant again in the luxury sedan and wagon segments.
That's because the A6's Achilles' heel has long been its distinct lack of underhood motivation compared to the European and Japanese competition. Sure, the A6 has a nice interior, and we've always appreciated its understated good looks and sure-footed AWD traction. But the base V6 feels taxed by the elevated standards of this class, and the flagship 4.2-liter V8 simply can't keep up with similarly priced V8s from BMW, Infiniti, Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz,. In other words, the A6 needed a shot in the arm, and the 3.0T's 300 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque might be just what the doctor ordered. It's also relatively fuel-efficient and doesn't command much of a price premium.
With the new engine, the 2009 Audi A6 is a competent luxury car in a segment that's teeming with attractive choices. The BMW 5 Series performs better overall, the Mercedes E-Class has better curb appeal, the Infiniti M35 and M45 promise sharper handling, the Hyundai Genesis offers tremendous value and the Jaguar XF matches the A6 in most respects while adding a healthy dollop of panache. Nonetheless, if you're drawn to the A6's combination of German engineering and available AWD security, we'd say it's worth a look. It's hard to go wrong at this price point, and you certainly won't go wrong if you end up with an A6.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2009 Audi A6 is available in sedan and wagon (Avant) body styles. There are three trim levels, differentiated by engine specification: base 3.2, midlevel 3.0T Quattro and top-of-the-line 4.2 Quattro. Furthermore, each A6 comes with one of three equipment packages: Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige. Note that the Prestige package is unavailable with the base V6 and mandatory with the V8.
The Premium package, standard on 3.2 and 3.0T Quattro trims, includes 17-inch alloy wheels, a sunroof, leather seating, power front seats with adjustable lumbar support (heated on Quattro models), a tilt and telescoping steering column, dual-zone automatic climate control, a trip computer, Audi's MMI systems controller, Bluetooth and a stereo system featuring a glovebox-mounted CD changer, satellite radio and an iPod input. The Premium Plus package, optional on the 3.2 and 3.0T Quattro, adds 18-inch wheels, bi-xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights, heated auto-dimming exterior mirrors, an auto-dimming rearview mirror with a compass, aluminum door sills and driver memory functions. The Prestige trim, optional on the 3.0T Quattro and standard on the 4.2 Quattro, tacks on exclusive 18-inch wheels, adaptive headlights, a back-up camera, keyless ignition and entry, shift paddles, a power-adjustable steering column, a DVD-based navigation system with voice-recognition capability (optional with Premium Plus), an upgraded surround-sound stereo and a color trip computer. The 4.2 Quattro also features sporty S line exterior styling cues.
Stand-alone options, depending on trim level, include a Cold Weather package with heated rear seats and steering wheel (plus heated front seats on non-Quattro models), rear side airbags and a blind-spot warning system.
Powertrains and Performance
Despite its name, the A6 3.2 features a 3.1-liter V6 rated at 255 hp and 243 lb-ft of torque. The A6 3.0T has a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 that cranks out 300 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. The A6 4.2 has a 4.2-liter V8 that generates 350 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque. The sedan is available with any of the three engines, while the Avant wagon comes only with the 3.0T. All engines feature direct fuel injection technology. The 3.2 front-wheel-drive sedan has a continuously variable transmission (CVT) with driver-selectable shift points, while all other A6s come with a six-speed automatic transmission and the Quattro AWD system.
The base A6 3.2 could hardly keep up with the average V6-powered family sedan in a stoplight drag race. The 3.0T, however, is so smooth and powerful that it calls into question the need for the V8 (their estimated 0-60-mph times are 0.1 second apart), especially considering the bigger engine's substantial price premium. EPA fuel economy estimates are 18 mpg city/27 highway and 21 combined for the base 3.2, 18/26/21 mpg for the 3.0T and 16/23/18 mpg for a 4.2 Quattro.
All 2009 Audi A6 models come with antilock disc brakes, stability control, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. Rear-seat side airbags are an extra-cost option. The A6 performed admirably in crash testing 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
The 2009 Audi A6 continues to offer one of the finest cabins in its class, with an attractive dash layout, excellent materials quality and impressive fit and finish. 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 the dash-mounted LCD screen and a large knob on the center console. We wouldn't go so far as to call it user-friendly, but you get used to it. The A6 sedan offers a perfectly adequate 16-cubic-foot trunk, though it's no bigger than the compact A4's. The Avant wagon offers a spacious 34 cubic feet behind its rear seats and 59 cubes with them folded.
The 2009 Audi A6's retuned suspension should prove satisfactory for most shoppers, though those seeking extra performance may gravitate toward competing models with optional sport-tuned suspensions. In any case, we don't rue the departure of last year's available sport suspension and 19-inch wheels, as that setup provided a tooth-rattling ride without adding much in the way of handling prowess. The 3.1-liter V6 is underwhelming compared with rival engines, as is the 4.2-liter V8; however, the zesty and reasonably priced 3.0T is a winner, much like the comparable twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-6 in the rival BMW 535i. The A6 cruises confidently on the highway, though some tire roar finds its way into the cabin at elevated speeds. The available Quattro all-wheel-drive system gives the A6 added peace of mind in foul weather.