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2012 Audi A6 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2012 Audi A6 was new.


Performance: 8.3

The redesigned 2012 Audi A6 packs a winning combination of performance that most reviewers love. The A6 3.0T earns high marks for its ample power, nimble handling and quattro all-wheel drive. However, a handful of reviewers complain about its light steering feel.

The EPA reports that the A6's turbocharged four-cylinder engine and front-wheel drive deliver excellent fuel economy figures of 25/33 mpg city/highway.

  • "This is a car that waltzes in the hills because it's so forgiving, so informative, so easy to drive to its limits." -- Car and Driver
  • "This thing is so predictable and inspires tons of confidence. The ability to put down power with all four tires and progressiveness of all the actions would certainly make it better for all but the best drivers. ... Even in the most aggressive situations when it's clear physics can still put the smackdown on electronics, the A6 still behaves predictably and safely." -- Motor Trend
  • "Audi Drive Select offers Comfort and Dynamic modes for the steering and drivetrain response. In Dynamic mode, the throttle feels much more responsive, although the eight-speed automatic transmission, even when in its own Sport mode, does not get drastically aggressive." -- CNET 
  • "Despite considerable capabilities, the A6 will not satisfy white-knuckle enthusiasts, who will have to look elsewhere or wait for a performance-oriented S6 version." -- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 
  • "The 2.0T will be matched with Audi's continuously variable transmission and offered in front-wheel drive format only, delivering what Audi promises to be class-leading city/highway/combined fuel economy of 25/33/28 miles per gallon. This will be the category's only four-cylinder offering, but it's an excellent engine that's likely to deliver more real-world power than most A6 drivers will demand." -- Kelley Blue Book 
  • "Audi continues to refine the driving character of its cars: They're getting more fun to drive. Top-line U.S. A6 models are fitted with the supercharged 3.0-liter direct-injected V6 that delivers shockingly robust and linear torque." -- Popular Mechanics 

Acceleration and Power

The 2012 A6 3.0T features a 310-horsepower, 3.0-liter supercharged V6, quattro all-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission. Test drivers rave about the supercharged V6, which also comes in the 2012 Audi A7. They say that the supercharged V6 offers ample horsepower and torque, making the A6 decidedly quick. The transmission also earns praise for its precision and refinement, although a few test drivers wish that Audi had brought a seven-speed DSG transmission to the U.S. rather than the eight-speed automatic.

The front-wheel drive A6 features a 211-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a continuously variable transmission, which may appeal to shoppers looking for a luxury large car that’s easy on fuel.

According to the EPA, the four-cylinder A6 gets 25 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. The Infiniti M35h gets a higher 27/32 mpg city/highway rating. A6 3.0T models get 19 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway, making them among the most fuel-efficient all-wheel drive luxury large cars. Only the BMW 535i xDrive does better, and only slightly at that, with 19/29 mpg city/highway fuel economy.

  • "The eight-speed automatic transmission glides through the gears with precision and power." -- The Detroit News 
  • "The smoothness of the eight-speed transmission is the best argument against DSGs I have experienced. Shifts are quick in sport or manual mode (not nearly as quick as a DSG), and the smooth transition won't upset the car in the mid-corner shifts." -- Motor Trend 
  • "As we drove fast over a road with many tight turns, the smell of burning rubber wafted into the cabin. The car does have a traction control system, but it seems more focused on keeping the car on the road rather than stepping on its performance." -- CNET 
  • "There's none of the low-speed hesitation followed by surge phenomenon that's common in many of today's automatic transmissions. When left in Dynamic mode, the transmission shifts quickly with little shift shock, and will hold the proper gear without unnecessary upshifts." -- Inside Line
  • "With 300 horsepower, and with a bit more torque-325 lb-ft, up from 310-this muscular six makes the new A6 splendidly quick." -- Automobile Magazine  
  • "The adjective ‘effortless’ comes to mind, as does the feeling of a naturally-aspirated V8." -- Autoblog  

Handling and Braking

Not all reviewers are sold on the 2012 Audi A6’s steering feel, but nearly all agree that the new Audi A6 feels light on its feet and more nimble than many rivals when the roads get twisty.

  • "Overall, the A6 tips the scales at just over two tons. That weight is never noticeable on the road, where the A6 feels sure-footed and agile. It's still a big sedan; it just never acts like one." -- The Detroit News 
  • "The A6 steering is like a band with a musician missing. There is a layer of vibration that comes through the wheel that feels like road surface, then there is the resistance from turning the wheel, and you can feel resistance load-up from scrub radius/caster trail. … The road feel doesn't seem to change with big steering movements; you don't feel what the contact patch is really doing." -- Motor Trend 
  • "The steering feel remains very light in all modes, allowing for effortless turning but not a lot of road feedback." -- CNET 
  • "The brake pedal feels soft for the first inch or so of travel but then catches." -- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 
  • "The electromechanical steering is nicely weighted, and its feel is vastly superior to that of the BMW 5-series, which has had most of its feeling snuffed out by a new electric booster." -- Car and Driver 
  • "The A6 feels lighter on its feet than most other sedans while tracking like an all-wheel-drive slot car." -- Popular Mechanics 

All-Wheel Drive

Shoppers on the hunt for a luxury large car with the security of all-wheel drive should be pleased to hear that the 2012 Audi A6’s quattro system earns praise from auto writers. The system pushes 40 percent of the engine power to the front wheels and 60 percent to the rear during normal use. Reviewers say that the rear-wheel bias makes the A6 drive like a rear-wheel drive car under normal conditions, but if the back wheels begin to slip, quattro will transfer power to the front wheels for improved traction.

On the downside, shoppers interested in the A6 with the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine will not get an all-wheel drive option. If you want quattro, you’ll have to opt for a 3.0T model.

  • "The 3.0 TFSI tips the scales at 3,836 pounds, versus 3,880 pounds for the 535i and 3,825 for the E350. That's an impressive achievement, especially given the weight penalty incurred by the Quattro four-wheel-drive system." -- Inside Line 
  • "The A6 uses the latest version of Quattro, with a nominal front-to-rear power distribution of 40/60 percent. Add to that an optional sport differential that actually distributes torque instead of cutting it off like stability-control-based ‘torque vectoring’ systems offered on cheaper cars, and the A6 is supremely capable." -- Car and Driver 
  • "Because the Quattro awd system maintains a 40/60 front/rear torque split when driving normally, the A6 behaves like a rear-drive sedan; it’s only when the system senses rear-wheel slip does it send additional power to the front wheels." -- Road and Track 
  • "Enthusiasts may be disappointed in the lack of S tronic transmission availability, but they should be happy that the A6 will offer the sport differential we first experienced on the Audi S4. The system sends more torque to the rear outside wheel, effectively ‘steering’ the rear end toward the direction of the front wheels. Audi's system is different from Acura's, for instance, in that it works when coasting and not just while under engine load." -- Kelley Blue Book 

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