The Audi A6: History, Generations, Specifications

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Audi A6 Essential History

1995-1997 (C4) Audi A6

Audi launched the A6 in the U.S. for the 1995 model year as part of an alphanumeric re-naming of its lineup, thought the car itself was simply a refreshed version of the previous Audi 100. The A6 was sold in both sedan and wagon (Avant) forms, in both front- and all-wheel drive, and with both four- and six-cylinder engines, including Audi’s 1.8T 20-valve inline four-cylinder. Upon the A6 being renamed, the Audi S4 sport sedan was also renamed to S6, with the new A4/A6 then being based on an entirely new platform.

1998-2004 (C5) Audi A6

In 2007, we got news of the upcoming 2008 Audi A6, a clean-sheet redesign of the model aimed squarely at its midsize German competition from BMW’s 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz’s E-Class. Dimensions increased all around, with a longer 108-inch wheelbase and wider track, though overhangs shortened considerably in an effort to give the car a sportier image. Audi’s 200-horsepower, 20-valve 2.8-liter V-6 was found on most U.S.-bound models paired with a five-speed automatic Tiptronic transmission and most often, Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive system.

For the 2000 model year, a 296-horsepower, 4.2-liter V-8 was offered, with widened fenders and standard Quattro all-wheel drive. A 250-hp, twin-turbo 2.7-liter V-6 was also available, also exclusively with Quattro all-wheel drive. An Allroad version in the Avant bodystyle arrived for the 2000 model year with adjustable air suspension, increased ground clearance, and standard Quattro. A mid-cycle refresh in 2002 brought subtle styling and engine changes, along with a new CVT transmission for front-drive models. An RS6 sedan was briefly offered Stateside in 2003 and 2004 with a 450-hp 4.2-liter V-8, though the Avant version was not available. This was one of the few times Audi has offered its top-shelf RS models in the U.S. at all.

2005-2011 (C6) Audi A6

The third-generation Audi A6 arrived for the 2005 model year and grew in size yet again, sporting a 111-inch wheelbase. This generation of A6 saw Audi include its MMI infotainment system in the model for the first time, along with a new 3.2-liter direct-injection V-6 engine and a 2.7-liter diesel V-6 option. Front-drive models continued with CVT transmissions, while Quattro-equipped cars boasted a new six-speed Tiptronic automatic. A new four-link rear suspension, modeled on that of the flagship A8, and improved front suspension geometry (both crafted mainly from lightweight aluminum) gave the A6 a more sophisticated ride. The A6 Allroad version continued on in Avant bodystyle and an S6, sold in sedan form only in the U.S., boasted a 5.2-liter V-10 which produced a heady 435 horsepower. The A6 was given a mid-cycle refresh for the 2009 model year which introduced a new 300-hp, 3.0-liter direct-injection V-6 engine.

2012-2018 (C7) Audi A6

For the 2012 model year, the U.S. was treated to another all-new A6 with styling falling very much in-line with the A8 flagship model. The wheelbase expanded to 114 inches, with the carryover 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 producing 306 horsepower, paired with a new seven-speed S-tronic dual-clutch automatic transmission. A 2.0-liter turbo-four was also available, with either a CVT transmission in front-drive form, or with an eight-speed auto in Quattro trim. Crucially, Audi stepped up its luxury game with this series of the A6, offering virtually all of the A8’s niceties—including optional heads-up display, active lane keeping, and LED headlights—in a smaller package.

A hybrid variant of the A6 was briefly offered, with the 2.0-liter turbo-four paired to an electric motor, but slow sales and production delays forced its cancelation after just over a year of production. Meanwhile, the A6 Allroad Quattro carried on with both gasoline and diesel engine options and a new S6 brought a twin-turbocharged 4.2-liter V-8 making some 414 hp starting in 2012.

2019-present (C8) Audi A6

Keeping with automotive trends, the A6 grows in size yet again in its current generation and now sports a 115-inch wheelbase. It’s now impossible to buy an A6 with front-wheel drive, as Quattro all-wheel drive is standard across the board. Base A6 models retain a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 248 horsepwoer, while a turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 paired with an electric motor has been designated the optional powertrain, producing 335 hp. Both engines are paired with seven-speed dual-clutch gearboxes. The S6 gains a 2.9-liter twin-turbo V-6 making 444 horsepower, but uses an eight-speed automatic gearbox as the DCT is unable to cope with the performance model’s 443 lb-ft of torque.

Audi A6 Highlights

For the very first time, Audi is bringing its popular RS6 Avant sport wagon to the U.S. market for the 2021 model year, with a 591-horsepower, 590-lb-ft twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 engine. The 0-60-mph sprint is said to take just 3.4 seconds—seriously quick for a mid-sized station wagon and sure to turn many heads at local stoplights.

Audi A6 Buying Tips

As with most German luxury cars, the best way to buy one is with a comprehensive factory warranty. That means either brand new off the showroom floor or pre-owned through a certified Audi program with an extended warranty. Contemporary Audis are tech-heavy cars with complicated electrical and electronic systems, and therefore there’s plenty to go wrong, just like with Audi’s premium competitors. While enthusiasts may take chances with used Euro-market RS6 models, we wouldn’t recommend buying any used Audi A6 without understanding the potential pitfalls. If you can’t be deterred, seek out an expert mechanic to pre-inspect any potential purchase and ask about common faults and repair costs.

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Audi A6 Quick Facts

  • First year of production: 1994
  • Last year of production: Still in production
  • Available body styles: Sedan, Avant wagon
  • Original price (base): $30,600
  • Characteristic feature: The premium German midsize sedan for those who want something a little different than the standard BMW or Mercedes-Benz.

Audi A6 FAQ

Is the Audi A6 a good car?

We think so! The A6 represents a quality sedan or wagon at a premium price that is both fun and relatively efficient to drive.

Is Audi A4 or A6 better?

Think of these as similar cars in two different sizes. If you need space for a growing family or frequently carry adult passengers in the rear seat, consider the larger A6. Otherwise, you may find a more compact A4 more to your liking.

Which year Audi A4 is the best?

The newest Audi A4 you can afford is the best option, with newer models offering more perks than their older siblings and generally benefiting from greater reliability and, hopefully, a factory-backed warranty.

2021 Audi RS6 Avant Specifications

ENGINE 4.0L twin-turbo DOHC 32-valve V-8/591 hp @ 6,000-6,250 rpm, 590 lb-ft @ 2,050-4,500 rpm
TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic
LAYOUT 4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, AWD wagon
L x W x H 184.8 x 72.0 x 57.6 in
WHEELBASE 115.3 in
WEIGHT 4,575 lb
0-60 MPH 3.4 sec
TOP SPEED 155/190 mph (base/Dynamic Plus)



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