First Look: 2012 Audi A6

Evolution with a hint of revolution.

by on Dec.01, 2010

Audi gives a sneak peek at its 2012 A6.

While Audi is still struggling to catch up with its key competitors in the U.S. market, it has become very much a top tier player in most of the rest of the world, even outselling the likes of BMW and Mercedes-Benz in key regions, including parts of Europe.

Give a solid chunk of credit for that to the maker’s “executive sedan,” the A6.  Not quite the fantasy flagship of the A8, which went through a dramatic redesign for the 2011 model-year, the A6 is nonetheless both a status symbol and, even as it reaches the end of its lifecycle, a styling benchmark both inside and out.

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Which is precisely what Audi hopes to match with the all-new version of the A6, which is scheduled to land in showrooms early in the new year wearing a 2012 model-year designation.

While there may be a few folks who’ll be a wee bit disappointed to see the 2012 Audi A6 take an evolutionary approach to styling, initial reactions are, on the whole, quite positive.  It helps that the next-generation sedan picks up some of the more attractive design cues of the new A8, including the oversized – versus split – grille and distinctive headlamps with their under-wrapped LED running lights.

The design of the 2012 Audi A6 was clearly influenced by this year's new A8 flagship.

The A6’s wraparound cockpit and lavishly-executed cabin also owe a nod to the 2011 A8.  The large LCD screen pops out of the center console, and integrates a variety of high-tech features, as with the bigger “saloon car.”  The next-generation MMI controller, first introduced on the ’11 Audi A8, has a touch pad that even allows you to even trace letters for simplifying tasks like entering an address into the navigation system.

For those who can’t fathom being disconnected, the A6 also has an onboard WiFi hotspot.

For those with more traditional tastes, the cabin is a bountiful display of wood, leather and chrome, and the A6 seats can be outfitted to both heat and cool – even give you a massage while you’re crawling along to work on a miserable Monday morning.

Audi has been a trendsetter of interior design and the A6 aims to keep that lead.

For various markets around the world Audi intends to offer a total of five powertrains: two gasoline and three diesel-powered.  (We expect to see more when the German marque later unleashes the S6 and RS6 spin-offs.)  Collectively, expect a 19% increase in fuel efficiency, a figure that will jump once Audi also debuts the planned A6 hybrid.

That advanced powertrain will mark Audi’s second use of hybrid technology, following its debut in the Q5, and will rely on both a 2.0-liter turbo engine paired with a compact electric motor – power driven through the 8-speed automatic gearbox that is offered on the A8.

That gas-electric package is tentatively rated at 38 mpg, but perhaps even more impressive is a 48 mpg 2.0-liter turbodiesel.  Which we can rule out for the U.S.  We may get to see the naturally-aspirated 2.8-liter gas engine, which makes 204 hp and 206 lb-ft of torque.  More definite will be the supercharged 3.0-liter FSI that not only will deliver 27 mpg but still top out at an electronically-limited 155 mph.

The 2012 Audi A6 will see the maker's second use of its new hybrid drivetrain.

The 8-speed, for the moment, will be available only in the hybrid.  Other powertrain packages will be paired with either a 6-speed manual, 7-speed automatic or CVT.  Quattro and front-drive configurations will be available, as with the current A6.

While evolution may be the watchword for the 2012 Audi A6, there is a hint of revolution in a significant increase in the use of aluminum in the sedan’s body, chassis and components.  Audi has been among the most aggressive luxury brands when it comes to the use of the lightweight metal, and it is a key reason for the improved balance between performance and fuel efficiency.

We’ll have a few months’ wait to see the 2012 Audi A6 in the sheet metal, and if these pictures are any indication, there’ll be a solid turnout for the official preview.

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