First Tests

2016 Audi A6, A7 3.0T First Test

Supercharged Siblings Are Less Thirsty But Still Quick

Supercharged Siblings Are Less Thirsty But Still Quick

Unfortunately, the refreshed 2016 Audi A6 doesn’t include a North American-bound RS6 Avant wagon, or any wagon for that matter. What the update does bring, however, are a slight visual tweak and revisions to the supercharged V-6 that result in more power and better fuel economy. And the same, of course, goes for the 2016 Audi A7.

As we reported in our First Drive of the Euro-spec A6, Audi tweaked the 3.0-liter, supercharged V-6 with revised cylinder heads, chain drivers, and heat management systems. And thanks to a new electromagnetic clutch, the supercharger can now be deactivated when it’s not needed. As a result, the gains in fuel economy are fairly significant. Both cars are now EPA-rated at 20/30/24 mpg city/highway/combined compared to 18/27/22 mpg for 2015 A6 (18/28/21 for the A7).

As for power, the 2016 A6 and A7 now make 333 hp, 13 more than the 2015 model year. Torque stays the same at 325 lb-ft. Does that boost in power result in quicker straight-line performance? Not really. Both the 2016 A6 and A7 ran to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds and completed the quarter mile in 13.3 seconds, which is nearly identical to the pre-refreshed models. We’ve tested the pre-refreshed A6 and A7 on multiple occasions, the best 0-60 mph times being 4.6 seconds for both cars. (The slowest time was 5.3 seconds for one of the A7s.) Quarter-mile times are pretty much spot on.

Of course, the A6’s 4.7-second 0-60 mph time is still very impressive, especially compared to its peers. The Lexus GS 350 F Sport, for example, needed 5.4 seconds, and the BMW 535i and Mercedes-Benz E350 4Matic took 5.5 and 5.8 seconds, respectively. The CTS Vsport is slightly quicker at 4.4 seconds, but it has the advantage of a more powerful 420-hp, twin-turbo, 3.6-liter V-6.

Reaching those speeds comes with little drama — there’s no hint of supercharger whine, and the ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic performs flawlessly, as expected. Steering is a bit light but responsive. Both test cars rode on 20-inch wheels — yes, there was a bit of road noise, and yes, navigating over rough road bumps were a bit jarring. Go for the 18- or 19-inchers with thicker sidewalls for a smoother ride.

Those 20-inchers do help in the styling department, especially with the A7, which featured “W-design” wheels. Both cars are handsome, but it’s almost impossible to walk away from the A7 without looking back at it multiple times. Overall, Audi wisely kept the styling tweaks to a minimum for this refresh of both cars. In addition to the new wheel designs, the front and rear ends get slight tweaks, including revised LED taillights and daytime running lamps.

And aside from a few new color schemes, the interior hasn’t changed. That said, the A6 and A7 still boast strong-looking cabins, and the MMI infotainment system is still ahead of its competitors, save for BMW’s excellent iDrive system. Our A7 tester featured layered walnut wood with inlays. It’s gorgeous, and the finish is also used in the Bentley Mulsanne. Priced at just 700 bucks, it’s a steal.

Our 2016 Audi A7 3.0T's interior featured gorgeous layered walnut wood with inlays

The MMI infotainment system inside the 2016 Audi A6 3.0T is ahead of most competitors

One misconception when comparing the A6 with the sexier A7 is that the former is not as practical as the later. Not true. Both cars seat five, and the A7 loses just about an inch of rear headroom from the A6. And thanks to the open cargo area, the liftback A7 boasts a fairly spacious 24.5 cubic feet of luggage space, compared with 14.1 cubic feet for the A6.

The biggest different between the two, of course, is price. For starters, the 2016 Audi A6 carries a base price of $58,325 US. Jumping up to the head-turning A7 requires a sizable chunk of change — $10,900 US, for starting price of $69,225 US. A few items come standard on the A7, most notably the full LED headlights, an option that’s at least $1,000 for the A6. Then there are the standard 19-inch wheels (the A6 comes with standard 18 inchers) and the power liftgate.

Both test cars were the top-of-line Prestige trim ($4,200 US for the A6 and $2,650 US for the A7), which includes a head-up display system, ventilated front seats, and a Bose sound system. The option is more expensive on the A6 because of LED headlights and a power-operated trunk, items that are standard on the A7. Also included were an S line Sport package ($1,800 US for A6 and $1,000 US for A7), 20-inch wheels ($1,500 US for A6 and $1,200 US for A7), and a cold weather package (heated steering wheel and heated rear seats) that costs $500 US for both cars. Grand total for the A6 was $66,875 US; the well-equipped A7 stickered at $77,725 US.

There’s no denying that forking over an extra $10,900 US to jump from the incognito A6 to the stylish A7 is a tough decision. Although the added cargo space provides little justification, perhaps looking at price tags of a few competitors will help soften the blow. For starters, the BMW 640i xDrive Gran Coupe starts at $82,750 US, and the Porsche Panamera 4 carries a base price of $83,795 US. All of the sudden, the A7 looks like a steal.

  2016 Audi A6 3.0T 2016 Audi A7 3.0T
BASE PRICE $58,325 $69,225
PRICE AS TESTED $66,875 $77,725
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan
ENGINE 3.0L/333-hp/325-lb-ft supercharged DOHC 24-valve V-6 3.0L/333-hp/325-lb-ft supercharged DOHC 24-valve V-6
TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic 8-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 4,133 lb (55/45%) 4,236 lb (54/46%)
WHEELBASE 114.7 in 114.7 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 193.9 x 73.8 x 57.8 in 195.6 x 75.2 x 55.9 in
0-60 MPH 4.7 sec 4.7 sec
QUARTER MILE 13.3 sec @ 104.6 mph 13.3 sec @ 104.8 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 109 ft 109 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.92 g (avg) 0.94 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 25.3 sec @ 0.79 g (avg) 25.1 sec @ 0.79 g (avg)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 20/30/24 mpg 20/30/24 mpg
ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY 169/112 kW-hrs/100 miles 169/112 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.82 lb/mile 0.82 lb/mile