First Drives Uncategorized

2016 Audi A6 2.0T Quattro First Drive

T Stands for Turbo. And a Good One at That

T Stands for Turbo. And a Good One at That

The 2016 Audi A6 2.0T may not be a lead-footer’s first choice, but it’s a very important volume-seller for the automaker, accounting for about 50 percent of the A6’s total sales. And there’s a good chance the base model A6 will take a larger chunk of that pie thanks to a mid-cycle refresh that brings more power, a new gearbox, and improved tech.

The big news is that the 2016 A6 2.0T receives a thoroughly updated version of Volkswagen Group’s EA888 2.0-liter turbo-four. (We covered a bulk of the revisions when we drove the Euro-spec A6). Output is now rated at 252 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque, a healthy power bump from the previous model’s 220 hp and 258 lb-ft.

Also significant is what that engine will be mated to: Front-drive models now get a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, a major upgrade from the outgoing continuous variable transmission. The A6 2.0T Quattro all-wheel-drive version sticks with the eight-speed auto (the A6 3.0T and Euro-Spec A6 are pictured in this review).

And despite the boost in power, fuel economy actually improves. The 2016 A6 2.0T Quattro is EPA rated at 22/32/26 mpg city/highway/combined, which is a 2/3/3-mpg improvement over model-year 2015.

Unfortunately Audi didn’t have a front-drive model with the new double-clutch gearbox available for our recent drive through the Malibu canyons, so we’ll have to acquire one soon for a full report. On the upside, that gave us plenty of time to get acquainted with the A6 2.0T with Quattro and the eight-speed.

It’d be easy to assume that the combination of a small turbo-four, all-wheel-drive hardware, and a relatively large sedan would equate to sluggish performance, but that’s far from the truth. Driven at a casual pace, the turbo-four is smooth, linear, and quiet. This is likely how most customers who opt for this version prefer it.

Mash the accelerator pedal, though, and the powertrain does hesitate for a quick second before coming to life. Response time is a tad better if the transmission is in Sport mode (executed with a quick tug of the gear shifter). Once the A6 2.0T gets going the turbo-four pulls all the way to redline. It sounds decent, too.

We drove the sporty S7 the same day, which solidified the fact that the 2.0T is more of a cruiser. Without the S7’s fancy torque-vectoring differential, the A6 2.0T is fairly tedious to drive quickly though the canyons. Feedback is mostly absent from the steering wheel, but it’s evident the A6 understeers when pushed to its limit. Brakes, however, are solid.

The A6 felt right at home cruising near freeway speeds along Pacific Coast Highway. The turbo-four is silent, and road noise is minimal. Audi also made some important changes in the cabin. The MMI infotainment system, for example, is improved with a quicker processor, and the screen is a tad sharper. USB ports finally replace Audi’s clumsy proprietary system.

The current-generation A6 first rolled into showrooms back in 2011, but years later the sedan still looks handsome. You’ll have to look closely to notice the styling updates for 2016. Spot the wider grille, revised bumpers, redesigned taillights, and a new chrome trim piece on the trunk, and you’ve pretty much got it.

With a starting MSRP of $47,125, the 2016 A6 2.0T is almost $4,000 and $7,000 less than the cheapest BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class, respectively. That said, the A6’s value makes it a strong consideration in this segment, especially with its relatively good looks, stronger engine, and improved tech.