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NOT JUST FOR KIDS

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Tue, Feb 8, 2005

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

NOT JUST FOR KIDS

By JOHN GRAFMAN

I'm getting old. I spent years in denial. Hey there's still more hair on my head than I would have expected and the thin spots are not overbearing. The color is only hinting at gray. No major body parts are falling off or are in need of repair. Eyesight is just as poor as it has been for years. My waistline shows far less growth than the U.S. inflation rate. So, I really didn't notice it until just this past week.

I always equate a coupe with youth. I often ask myself, why does one need four doors unless you have kids? Then Audi laid the new A6 on my doorsteps. One, two, three, four... yes, four doors on this model. Sedans are for geezers, right? No doubt about it. This is a sedan, as is any car with four doors. By no means is this a small car; many even confuse this with the top of the line A8. There it is. The A6 is a big, four-door sedan, and I like it.

All of this makes me feel a little bittersweet for my bygone youth. I must be getting old as I find myself judging this book by its cover, which is out of my normal character. I finally come to my senses and get behind the wheel. The inside is nothing less than a study in good taste. There is no boy-racer inspiration found here. The materials and fit and finish are impressive. The centerpiece is the wood and aluminum center console, which is sheer eye-candy. Some think the various buttons are a distraction to driving, which maybe true. But, it's the stand-out design and materials which manage to catch the eye of this driver too often.

The leather seats that on first blush appear ordinary (beautiful, but ordinary) do support the driver as good as many others that have far more adjustments. My old bones are supported just right. Only heated seats, which are optional, will make this any better. The size of the interior is remarkable. Of course the exterior does hint at this, but from the inside is a whole other story - simply first-class seating both front and rear. Elbowroom is extra impressive. From the door panels to the cup-holders, this is one well thought-out design and layout.

The interior is as almost as striking as the impressive exterior. Sadly, the marketplace too often equates large with good. Too many might miss the point that the shape of the A6, which is indeed large, is also stylish and swoopy. The Audi captures a sense of power, prestige and agility. The trunk is nicely proportioned with the exterior design. Opening the trunk surprises me by just how much volume there is, and with the rear seats folded forward, the storage space could swallow a ladder. While the grill is massive, the size seems to play well with the scale of the vehicle as a whole. Only the wheels seem to be a bit smallish on the big sedan. The A6 is, in a word, captivating.

At my age I should exhibit more self-control by keeping my foot off the accelerator. How can I resist this bit of excess? Out of respect for not acting my years, the big Audi defies the number of cylinders and displacement at its disposal. Touch the gas pedal and A6 moves with true responsiveness, so simple one wonders why more cars can't manage this feat. I am not selling out. I love a beefy, powerful eight-cylinder motor under the hood, but the A6 more than suffices. What a relief that the base model isn't a sad excuse for its pricier siblings. The A6 gives the driver a moving experience without having to opt for the top of the line model.

Aiding my poor, atrophying muscles is an effective speed-sensitive steering. The steering is one big step forward and one small step back. While modifying the steering effort is done well, the lack of road feel, which is maybe due to the tires, doesn't transmit back enough road feel to provide as much information as I would like. Audi's Quattro system provides a unique feel of confidence. Both ends of the car are of like minds working toward a common goal. Where a front or rear drive vehicle uses the new fangled electronics (which the Audi uses as well) to back off power to maintain control, the Audi just doesn't lose gripe as early as the power is spread out over four wheels. The system is an Audi specialty and it's standard equipment!

Most elderly will love the noticeably quite interior. The drive is a little slice of heaven. Over concrete freeways though I was unamused by the tire noise transmitted inside. How can I nap in the middle of that racket? My guess is the tires again may be at fault, the rest of the time is pure joy for the ears. If the sound of silence isn't good enough, the optional Bose sound system is just what the doctor ordered. The audio controls using the center console knob and buttons are easy enough to figure out and the screen is very easy to read to boot. The steering wheel spokes also house audio controls making the whole system safer to use.

The question is, how does all the elements of the Audi work together? Like a well-oiled machine, and then some. It's as much fun for us old guys as running around with someone half our age. The performance and looks of the A6 are enviable. And the price could be believable at twice the sticker. This is like getting social security at 35 rather than 65. This Audi reminds me that I am old enough to appreciate this quality and young enough to revel in the performance aspects. With my fading memory, I don't mind the occasional reminder.

As far as the four doors over two, I'll learn to live with it.

Find out more at www.audi.com

SPECIFICATIONS

Price:Base $40,900, as tested $45,370

Engine type:

3.2 liter, V6 spark ignition, direct injection, aluminum alloy cylinder block, aluminum alloy cylinder head, DOHC, chain driven, continuous camshaft adjustment all valves

Horsepower:255 @ 6,500 rpm

Torque:243 lb.-ft @ 3,250 rpm

Drive configuration:Front engine / all-wheel drive

Transmission type:Six-speed automatic with Tiptronic®, Dynamic Shift Program (DSP), automatic shift lock and new "Sport-mode" setting

Suspension:Front: Four-link, anti roll bar, twin-tube-gas-filled shock absorbers Rear: Trapezoidal-link, twin tube gas-filled shock absorbers

Wheels and tires: Front: 7.5J x 16, cast alloy, 7-spoke design, 7.5J x 17, cast alloy, 9-spoke star design (optional), 8J x 18, cast alloy, seven arm design (optional), 225 / 55 R16 all-season, 245 / 45 R17 all season (optional), 245 / 40 R18 all season or high performance (optional)

Rear: 7.5J x 16, cast alloy, 7-spoke design, 7.5J x 17, cast alloy, 9-spoke star design (optional), 8J x 18, cast alloy, seven arm design (optional), 225 / 55 R16 all-season, 245 / 45 R17 all season (optional), 245 / 40 R18 all season or high performance (optional)

Brakes:Front: Vented discs 12.64-inch diameter Rear: Solid discs 11.89-inch diameter

Electronic stability program (ESP 8) with anti-lock brake, electronic rear brake pressure proportioning, vacuum power assist, asbestos free linings, dual diagonal circuits

Overall length:193.5"

Overall width:179.2"

Overall height:57.5"

Curb weight (lbs.):3,957

EPA mileage estimates City/ Highway:19/26

Top Speed, mph:130 (electronically limited)

0-60 mph:7.1

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