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A review of the 2012 Audi A6 3.0 Prestige Quattro - German excellence in motion

Spending a week behind the wheel of the 2012 Audi A6 Prestige 3.0 Quattro provides a great example of how well Audi has molded this roomy sedan around the driver – combining comfort and performance in a package that makes it very clear why Audi is one of the world’s leading luxury brands.


Our 2012 Audi A6 was powered by a supercharged 3.0L V6 sending 310 horsepower and 325lb-ft of torque to all four wheels via Audi’s advanced Quattro all wheel drive system coupled with an 8-speed Tiptronic (automatic) transmission. This is the top of the line drivetrain configuration for the A6 and the Prestige trimline with which our test vehicle was fitted is the range-topping option for the A6. On top of the basic features of the A6 Prestige package, our test car came with the LED headlight package and the 19” wheel sport package – which checks the majority of the boxes when building an A6 similar to this one on the internet. In short, our test car was about as loaded as the A6 can get and that was very obvious both inside and out as there is very little left to ask for from this midsized luxury sedan.

The Exterior
The outside of the 2012 Audi A6 Prestige 3.0 Quattro is classy but it achieves that look with a touch of sinister looking styling. Across the front end, the LED headlights fitted into the long, sleek lenses provide a very angry look with the front end of the hood creating a prominent brow that gives the A6 the look of scowling. When the headlights are turned off, the LED light trim that runs along the lower edge of both headlights is hard to miss in traffic as, simply put, it just looks cool. Daytime running lights are meant to draw attention and the headlights of the Audi A6 most certainly do that.

The large central grill of the A6 stretches from the hood to the bottom of the front fascia, proving plenty of room for lots of engine intake and cooling air flow with additional air intake provided by the secondary openings mounted low and to the outside of the front fascia. The central grille and outer fascia vents both sport gloss black and matte black trim for a classy yet sporty look that really works perfectly. Of course, the whole front end is punctuated by the large four-ring logo in chrome.

Along the side, the 2012 Audi A6 has a long, low design that is emphasized by the hard body line that begins at the outer edge of the headlight, running along the upper portion of the door and fading off into the taillight area out back. Unlike many performance sedans that use large, muscular wheel flares with high fenders and quarter panels, the 2012 A6 has a very “flat” overall design but – like an archer’s arrow – there is no question that this car looks fast. The smallish wheel openings are well filled by the 19” alloy wheels of the 19” wheel sport package while the blackened B pillar and C pillar both melt into the side glass to provide a sort of coupe look.

The long greenhouse of the Audi A6 flows from the hood up through the windshield with a constantly sloping roofline leading into a gently sloping rear glass that meets the trunklid at an angle that gives the A6 a very short looking trunk area. The rear end is far more angular than is the rest of the A6 with the square shaped taillights molding into the sharp outer edges of the rear fascia for a very upright look. The elevated trunklid and molder rear spoiler give the A6 a higher looking back end, bolstering the sporty design with making the car feel bulky. The back end also features a black contrasting lower portion that wraps around the polished dual exhaust tips.

The Audi brand is known for combining luxury and sportiness – a fact very well illustrated by the 2012 Audi A6 3.0 Prestige with the 19” wheel package.

The Interior
As soon as you open the door of the 2012 Audi A6 3.0 Prestige, you are greeted by an interior that is the ideal combination of luxury and technology. Our test car was fitted with the optional Velvet Beige interior layout that I would call a “must have” for those buying a new A6. This light brown finish is everywhere throughout the interior – from the seats to the door panels to the center console to the headliner to the carpeting. This light brown is accented by black trim on the upper door panels and dash with wood grain and satin silver accents on the doors, dash and center console.

The front seats of the 2012 Audi A6 3.0 Prestige are made of soft leather with both heating and cooling options for the driver and front passenger with that similar leather echoed on the center console, the door panels, the door arm rests and across the entire rear seating area. There is tons of head room, elbow room and leg room for the driver and front passenger with similar headroom and elbow room in the back seat. If you have a very tall driver, a very tall passenger might gripe about the amount of leg room behind the driver’s seat but with the driver’s seat set to accommodate a 6’ tall driver – there is more than enough room for an adult of average height to sit comfortably in the rear seat.

At first glance, the controls of the 2012 Audi A6 3.0 Prestige might look terribly complex but after a few moments playing with the large knob mounted with the shifter in the center console – it is actually a beautifully simple system. The large silver knob controls the navigation system, the sound system, other media features and the integrated phone system, all of which are displayed on the large screen that rises out of the center of the dash when you start the car. Above the control knob is a black touch pad that allows the driver to flip through radio presets and on the other side of the shifter is the volume control knob. Mostly importantly, this system allows you to adjust the navigation, phone or sound system without looking away from the road – and without lifting your right arm off of the padded center armrest. The standard Bose sound system booms like an aftermarket system and it is crystal clear up to the highest volume setting.

I also love that the navigation system of the 2012 Audi A6 allows you to make adjustments while moving. I understand that you shouldn’t be programming your nav system while driving but in a situation where I was creeping slowing through traffic, the Audi nav system allowed me to change my destination in an effort to avoid the terrible traffic. Also, the Audi navigation system works with Google maps so when driving with the nav screen open, the system shows actual images from Google so it is much easier to navigate around a busy city as you are able to clearly locate key points on the navigation screen map.

The 2012 Audi A6 3.0 Prestige climate control system features a four zone design with the driver and passenger controlling their tempterature zones via the panel mounted in the center stack, just in front of the shifter. It is a simple control with a knob that adjusts the fan speed, temperature settings and blower direction with the push of a button. When different modes are selected (such as adjusting the fan speed), a virtual dial pops up on the large display screen. For rear riding passengers, there is a similar dual zone system mounted in a simple panel mounted in the back of the center armrest.

The interior of the 2012 Audi A6 looks great during the day but when the sun goes down and the interior lighting comes on – the A6 is incredibly classy and well lit. There are a variety of red LEDs mounted in the roof that shine down into the interior while soft white lighting in the footwells, door panels and along the center console helps to light up all of the access and storage areas. All of the buttons and controls – from the door panels to the center stack to the overhead control panel – all feature red lighting that contrasts beautifully against the soft white lighting and this white-and-red layout is echoed right into the large dual gauge cluster.

Overall, the interior of the 2012 Audi A6 3.0 Prestige looks great in the day or at night and it feels just as good as it looks. The control interface mounted in the center console is among the best setup of this kind that I have used and while most automakers “gadgetry” like this makes the vehicle more difficult to understand – the Audi control system is easy to learn and just oozes convenience. The sound system is incredible and the navigation system is one of the easiest standard systems I have used on the market today.

The Drive
The Audi brand has become known for surefooted driving by means of their Quattro all wheel drive system and while I didn’t have to deal with any snow or other harsh weather conditions while driving the 2012 Audi A6 3.0 Prestige – I was able to completely appreciate the Quattro system from a performance standpoint. Based on the size of the A6, a supercharged V6 with “only” 310 horsepower and 325lb-ft of torque mated to an 8-speed transmission and an all wheel drive system seems like it might be a little light on power. That is not the case by any means as the A6 makes as good of use of its available power as any vehicle I have driven. The manual shift system uses the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters to slam from gear to gear and when driving the A6 hard – the transmission shifts like a high performance car with hard, direct shifts. The A6 Tiptronic “bangs” from gear to gear as hard and as quickly as any stock automatic transmission I have driven, especially when you configure the car into the sportiest settings in the vehicle dynamics system. This system allows the driver to adjust various stages between comfort and high performance with preset modes for the suspension, throttle control and transmission shifting as well as the option to set up a custom designation for these parameters. This allows the car to either perform more like a luxury car or more like a performance car and honestly, I had a hard time ever taking the A6 out of the most aggressive modes. Even when set to the sportiest settings, the A6 still rides like a dream and shifts smoothly under normal driving circumstances but when you put the hammer down – the A6 is much, much more exciting to drive than the numbers on paper would lead you to believe.

When launching from a dead stop, the 2012 Audi A6 3.0 Prestige pulls incredibly hard as it cruises quickly through the gears. Even though this car is powered by a forced induction (supercharged) engine, the power is right there when you want it – whether cruising at speed at a low RPM or when launching from a top – ripping the car from 0 to well above the speed limit faster than most drivers will ever care to travel. It should go without saying that the Audi A6 – a car designed with autobahn use in mind – is super smooth on the highway whether you are going 60 or 130. This is a car that vastly exceeded my expectations in every way with acceleration, braking and handling that all show just why the Germans are so well known for their high performance luxury sedans.

The Final Word
The 2012 Audi A6 3.0 Prestige is a serious luxury car with very little left to ask for in terms of interior amenities but this is done without compromising performance and driving excitement. The aggressive exterior design screams sporty without departing from the classy look of the luxury Audi lineup and the performance parameters make the A6 one of the most impressive cars to drive on the open road – whether driving at high speeds or simply cruising around town at low speed – the Audi A6 is a car that people who love to drive will love to own.