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2005 Audi A6 Mid-Size Luxury Sedan

New Car Review of the 2005 Audi A6 Mid-Size Luxury Sedan

Base MSRP Range: $43,800-53,100

Base Invoice Range: Not Available

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MSRP As Tested: Not Available

Versions: A6 3.2 quattro Sedan, A6 4.2 Sedan

Vehicle Category: Mid-Size Luxury Sedan.

Engine Location: Front engine

Drive Wheels: All Wheel Drive .

3.2 Engine 3.2-liter, Dual Overhead Cam, 24-valves, V6, 255 -horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 243 lb-ft torque at 3,250 rpm.

4.2 Engine as Tested: 4.2-liter, Dual Overhead Cam, 32-valves, V8 , 335 -horsepower at 6,600 rpm and 310 lb-ft torque at 3,500 rpm.

Transmission As Tested: Six -Speed Tiptronic automatic.

Fuel Economy (city/hwy): V6 Not available, V8 17/23.

Standard Safety Features: Dual-level driver and passenger airbags, seat mounted side air bags, head airbags. ">Antilock Brake System, electronic brake force distribution

Competition: BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz E Class, Volvo S80, Infiniti M, Lexus GS, Cadillac CTS, Lincoln LS.

The Audi A6 has been one of the most beautiful cars on the road for the past 3 decades. It remains a favorite of ours today. Everything about it is elegant and voluptuous from the gently sloped roofline, sumptuous jewelry, stunning interiors, to its superior fit and finish. And its pricing makes it the most affordable, mid-size-luxury sedan on the market.

Unfortunately public perception of Audi has never reflected the caliber of product they manufacture. This has been their challenge, and it is reflected in sales. BMW, for example, sells three cars to every one Audi. It has succeeded in distancing itself from the second tier luxury automakers, which includes Jaguar, Acura, Saab, Volvo, and Infiniti, and moved closer to the first-tier. However perception keeps Audi sales modest and prevents them from entering the list of top-tier luxury automakers along with Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW.

Audi has worked hard to improve its image with consumers, and is, for the first time, among the top one hundred global brands, ahead of America Online. Over the past three years the brand has also moved up in J.D. Power’s initial quality survey, and is now in the top ten ahead of BMW, Volvo and Acura, just below Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, Jaguar and Cadillac.

Audi has a product offensive under way which will see the stable of cars grow from twenty models, to thirty, over the next couple of years. Additionally there is a new A4 on the way, and the smaller A3 will be available in the states for the first time in May 2005.

The previous A6, with the V8 engine, was our favorite Audi product. Its only rival was the BMW 540i, and handling much better than the Mercedes E Class of the same period. Frankly Audi has Mercedes-Benz beat for both design and finish. We remain astounded that the A6 was unable to secure a larger share of the market.

The new A6 design is not as breathtakingly beautiful as the car it replaces. But it remains a world-class sports sedan that is one of the best built products on the market. And it is, in many ways, superior to the previous version.

The biggest change in A6’s styling is at the front where it has been given the new, LARGE, trapezoidal, front grill. This feature is now a significant part of Audi’s design DNA. The 2005 A6 also receives a new V6, and an improved optional V8 engine, a 34% stiffer chassis, and an all-new interior.

Audi Avants are among the very best wagons money can buy. The new A6 Avant will come to market in Fall 2005 as a 2006 model. Currently German rival BMW is not offering a wagon. Hence we expect the A6 Avant to be the top-selling German luxury wagon when it arrives.


The 2005 A6 marks the introduction of Audi’s new face in the North America; a design we were not sold on at first. It features Audi’s new, and very large, single-opening, trapezoidal grille. It is this new grille that has been the most difficult aspect of the design to absorb because it looks so similar to the Chrysler 300’s face; also not a favorite of ours’.

Designer Achim Badstubner explained the design, and after watching him draw the cars and point out the details we were much more receptive to it when we saw it on the road the next day. It is difficult to replace the overall design of any vehicle, especially when it is as good as the outgoing A6. People are bound to be uncomfortable - as was the case when BMW made sweeping changes. However Audi succeeded in making the point that design is more than styling alone; it is a melding of function and form. And the car’s looks grew on us.

The A6 retains the long, sweeping, coupe-like roofline of the previous model. There is a beltline crease that runs from the top of the headlights to the bottom of the rear spoiler, tying the two together. Another line runs above the rocker panels, continuing past the rear wheel wells, and defining the rear bumper. There is now a very pronounced spoiler at the back of the rear deck: something that the previous A6 did not have.

The new A6 is a bit edgier than in the past, but it loses a little of its elegance. It remains a well-designed product that will not age quickly.


The new interior is very different than that of the previous model. The instrument panel is orientated toward the driver. Audi describes it as a sports car panel, but to us it looks is more like the helm of a speedboat.

Under the cowl there are two large gauges separated by a small, color LCD information display. The gauge on the left is the tachometer and the one on the right is the speedometer. To the right of the instrument cluster is a 7” screen, which contains the systems for the Multimedia Interface Controls (MMI), entertainment, and optional navigation system. Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning (HVAC) vents and the analog climate controls are below the screen in the center stack. The gear selector is at the front of the center console, with an armrest and storage area are at the back. The controls for the MMI system are in between.

Because of the driver orientation of the screens, it is hard for a passenger to see, and adjust, the entertainment system. Unfortunately this will be problematic if you are frequently accompanied by a copilot.

Consider purchasing the upgraded Bose sound system with six channels and 10 speakers. The A6’s cockpit is large and a great shape for a great sound system.

The new generation Audi steering wheel makes it’s debut on the 2005 A6. It has four spokes and has the same trapezoidal design as the new grille. Leather wraps steering wheel, which is standard on the A6. The wheel has controls for many vehicle functions including the entertainment system, navigation and phone.

The A6 has Bluetooth. So the car can communicate with any Bluetooth phone, and share address books on Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs.) Palm Systems Inc. offered to lend us a phone so that we could test the interface, but never followed through, so we can’t tell if, and how, it works. Drivers can use their own cell phone through the Bluetooth system. And the optional voice recognition system provides hands-free dialing and operation.

The wheelbase of the 2005 Audi A6 is three inches longer than the previous car proving more legroom for the front passenger and extra knee room for those riding in the rear. The seats are great, as is usually the case with Audi products. They provide great support and comfort for long commutes, and hold you in place for spirited driving.

Another very cool A6 feature is the advanced keyless entry system. As long as you have the key in your possession, the car unlocks the doors when it recognizes the key. Once inside the car, the driver starts it by pushing a start button on the dashboard. Unless you want to, you do not need to insert the key into anything to start the car.

All Audis come pre-wired for your choice of either Sirius or XM Satellite Radio. These are products that we love to see in vehicles, because they provide great reception and at the same time you can easily find your favorite stations and shows, because the number on the dial never changes no matter where in the US you are traveling. Even though the service costs a few bucks every month, if you drive long distances you will love satellite radio.


There are two engine options available in the U.S for the 2005 Audi A6. A 3.2-liter V6, and a 4.2-liter V8. Audi no longer offers the twin turbo V6 now that it offers the V8.

The 3.2-liter, V6, Fuel Straight Injection (FSI) engine is all-new. It generates 255-horsepower at 6,500 RPM, and 243 lb-ft of torque at 3,500. It is the first engine offered by Audi with their FSI system. FSI injects the fuel directly into the combustion chamber instead of into an intake valve. This generates more power and torque while lowering fuel consumption. Unfortunately we were not given an opportunity to drive the A6 with the new V6 engine, so we cannot comment on its performance.

But we did spend an entire day in an A6 with the fantastic updated 4.2-liter V8. This engine is a carry over from the previous A6. It is also used in the S4 compact-sport and the A8 full-size, luxury sedans. This engine puts out 335-horsepower at 6,600 RPM, and 310 lb-ft of torque at 3,500 RPM. If you love to drive, you’ll enjoy this engine as it is powerful, responsive smooth, and quiet even when cruising on the highway. Step hard on the gas and the power throws you back into the seat as the car rapidly picks up speed.

Only one transmission offered on the A6. It is a six-speed, automatic transmission with Tiptronic, and a sport mode. The engine transitions smoothly from one gear to the next, as effortlessly as a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT.) The 2005 A6’s transmission is on par with what is offered in the BMW 5 Series.

The Tiptronic system in the A6, is also used by Porsche. It allows the driver to select gears manually without the effort required to depress a clutch pedal. Audi’s Tiptronic was one of the first manumatic transmissions to come to market. It does a reasonably good job -- but not as good as the one they have in the TT - and will not satisfy manual transmission purists. It would be fantastic if Audi would put in the Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) in the TT - it is the best product of this type on the market - into the A6. Because, if they did, then the A6 would be a perfect competitor to the BMW 5 Series sedan with their Sequential Manual Gearbox (SMG.)

So that our all our readers are aware, two of our most favorite rides of all time are the 2004 Audi TT with the DSG, and the 2004 BMW M3 with the SMG, in great part due to these new transmission technologies.

Ride and Handling

The A6 product provides an excellent balance between a driver’s desire for sporty handling for twisting mountain roads, and the need for a comfortable, smooth, and quiet ride, in a reliable commuter sedan for daily use. Both the handling and the ride have been improved by the new A6 chassis - if you can imagine that were possible. The new car is 34% stiffer than old one!

Stiffness improves the handling by preventing the chassis from flexing under the vehicle’s load (mass) when cornering. The car can handle turns and corners at higher speeds without breaking loose. Ride is also improved by reducing vibration - something you’ll notice right away if you take a test drive.

The steering input is precise, so the car goes where you expect it to, regardless of your speed. This is controlled in part by a speed-dependent, Servotronic, rack and pinion steering system.

Handling is also improved by Audi’s, legendary, Quattro All Wheel Drive (AWD) system. Quattro was first introduced to the U.S. 25 years ago and the drive system is what makes Audi unique. Over the last several years other luxury makers have attempted to emulate Quattro. BMW, Volvo, Acura, Infiniti and Mercedes-Benz all have AWD systems for their sedans.


Audi builds safe cars, as you would expect from a German manufacturer. The A6 comes with a full compliment of air bags. Front driver and passenger air bags are standard, as are side-impact air bags and the Sideguard head-curtain air bag system.

Audi felt safety gains could be made by improving the vehicle’s exterior lighting. After all you do need to see where you are going. A6 comes with programmable daytime running lights, and Bi-Xenon headlamps with active cornering. Active cornering headlights turn in the same direction the car does. This illuminates the road and area when you are headed, rather than what is straight ahead of the vehicle.

The same increase in chassis stiffness (34% better) also improves the structural rigidity of the A6. That makes it more crashworthy. And Audi is also including a number of electronic driver aids including electronic brake assist and brake force distribution.

In Conclusion

The 2005 Audi A6 reaffirms Audi as a manufacturer of top-quality sedans. The car provides solid competition in the mid-size segment standing its ground well against the BMW 5 Series, and the Mercedes-Benz E Class. We prefer the A6 to both the Jaguar S Type, and the Infiniti M, and it is far better than any Cadillac we have ever driven. The one car that will make life difficult for the A6 is the new Lexus GS sedan, especially the all wheel drive model.

The A6 with the 6-cylinder engine will start at $40,900 in the U.S, which is $400 less than the comparable BMW 5 Series. The V8 will start at $50,500, which is $5,300 less than the BMW 5 Series with a V8. The Audi provides even bigger savings when compared to the Mercedes-Benz E Class. The V6 A4 costs $7,600 less than the E, and $8,900 less than the Mercedes with a V8 and AWD. Some of the Japanese competitors will cost a little less, but only a few really compete. But Audi value wins out when compared to other German cars.

Pros: One of the very best rides on the market today, quiet and agile. V8 is a great engine. Geat fit and finish.

Cons: Improved Tiptronic automatic still not up to BMW’s SMG or Audi’s own DSG transmissions, would like to see a manual available.

Ratings (1-10)

  • Style: 9
  • Performance: 9
  • Price: 9
  • Handling: 9
  • Ride: 9
  • Comfort: 8
  • Quality: 8
  • Overall: 8.7

More Data

Where Built: Germany

Major Options: Audio Package, Navigation System, Remote Keyless Entry, .

Seating: 5

Number of Rows: 2

Length in Inches: 193.5.

Warranties: 4 years/50,000 miles bumper to bumper, 12 years/unlimited-miles corrosion protection, 4 years/50,000 miles roadside assistance, 4 years/50,000 miles free scheduled maintenance.

Weight in Pounds: 3.2 - 3,957, 4.2 - 4,145.

Cargo Capacity in Pounds: not available.

Gross Maximum Vehicle Weight in Pounds: 3,549.

Towing Capacity in Pounds: not available.

Gas Tank Capacity in Gallons: 21.1.

Destination Charge: $720