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2009 Audi A6 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2009 Audi A6 was new.


Performance: 8.6

The 2009 Audi A6 is almost two separate upscale cars where performance is concerned. Without Quattro All-Wheel-Drove, it's a competitive luxury sedan, available with one adequate engine, one powerful engine, and one supercharged engine that replicates V8 performance with V6 fuel economy. Without Quattro, its handling is average for this class. With the Quattro system, it grips the road with an authority few other cars can muster and almost demands to be driven hard. 

  • "Underway, the A6 boasts sharp, precise steering, and a firm but comfortable ride. In high-speed corners the quattro models feel like they're on rails, a benefit of Audi's superb all-wheel-drive system. Braking and handling are excellent, whether on dry pavement or when hurtling through a torrent of rain." -- New Car Test Drive
  • "Audi has closed the gap on the revered BMW 5 Series in terms of seat-of-the-pants road-holding. With the wheels spread out slightly from the previous A6, the car feels solid on the road and especially confidence-inspiring at highway speeds." -- CNET

Power and Handling

The A6 3.2 features a 3.1-liter V6 making 255 horsepower. 4.2 models have a 4.2-liter V8 that puts out 350 horsepower. A new, 3.0-liter V6 with a supercharger makes 300 horsepower, but is nearly as quick as the V8. The V6 is an adequate choice for most buyers, but doesn't place the car near the top of its class. The V8 is much stronger. The 3.2 front-wheel-drive sedan uses a continuously variable transmission without true gears, while all other models use a six-speed automatic transmission.

  • "Audi's big news is the intermediate engine: a new 3.0-liter V-6 fitted with a Roots-type supercharger that lives between the cylinder banks. ...On the road, this engine is so far superior to the entry-level V-6 and so close in responsiveness and easily attainable speed to the V-8 that it is our engine of choice in the A6." -- Car and Driver
  • "The acceleration times of the V6- and V8-powered cars to 100 km/h are identical, yet the V8 uses substantially more fuel. The new supercharged V6 also trounces the Mercedes-Benz E350's 3.5-liter V6 with its 268 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, and can stand toe-to-toe with the BMW 535i's twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-6 with its 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque." -- Edmunds
  • "A V6 quattro sedan timed a brisk 7.6 seconds 0-60 mph in our evaluation. It showed good highway passing reserve but annoyed at town speeds with sometimes tardy transmission response. ... A V8 sedan took just 6.5 seconds 0-60 and furnished ample power at all speeds, though some testers complained of imprecise low-speed throttle action." -- Consumer Guide
  • With the V8, the A6 "claws it's way to a very impressive 0-60 mph time of about 6 seconds." -- Automobile.com
  • The new supercharged engine "is lively and powerful, if not quite as smooth as we've come to expect from Audi's V6 units. Refinement is good, too--a slightly gruff mechanical noise from the supercharger penetrates the cabin at about 4,000 rpm under hard acceleration, but on a constant throttle the engine remains well-isolated." -- AutoWeek

Handling and Braking

The A6 in 3.2 front-wheel drive trim is a competent handler, but the vast majority of A6s sold in the U.S. feature the Quattro All-Wheel-Drive system. It's standard on the 4.2, and while it's technically optional on the 3.2, Audi says more than 80 percent of buyers opt for it. Quattro makes the A6 one of the top handlers in its class. An adjustable suspension only adds to the car's ability to tackle winding roads.

  • "A6's handling is softer than that of other top midsize luxury cars, but provides an excellent ride around town, along with predictable reflexes and precise steering through turns. ... 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." -- Edmunds
  • "All models corner with little body lean and reassuring composure, abetted by the steering's satisfying weight and accuracy. AWD versions are near the top of the class for agility, grip, and poise. The brakes deliver smooth, short stops." - Consumer Guide
  • "Incredibly confidence-inspiring because it goes where you point it, period." -- Automobile Magazine.
  • "The taut suspension reacts promptly but not excessively. It can cope with most road roughness, but the ride can become bouncy through harsher stretches." -- Cars.com
  • "On the relative smoothness of a local highway the automatic setting automatically lowers the car for better road holding and fuel economy. With a quick turn of the Multi Media Interface, firm suspension can switch over to relaxed to soak up bumps and pavement irregularities without being too floaty." -- Automobile.com
  • The adaptive air suspension "optimizes road holding and comfort. It's a marvelous invention that really helps keep the car securely fastened to the ground." -- New Car Test Drive

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