Pros: "high performance, unbelievable fuel efficiency."
Cons: "Expensive, lacks sports car steering feel."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"By way of context, I also own a 2009 BMW 335d, which at that time was the most fuel efficient vehicle that BMW had ever imported to the U.S. The 2014 A6 TDI is larger, slightly faster, heavier, and has all-wheel drive (the 335d was **only** available with rear-wheel drive), yet the A6 TDI gets 10% to 20% better fuel economy!
In addition to still owning a last-gen 3 series with sport package, I have driven hundreds of miles in the current generation 3 Series, as well as having test driven the new BMW 535d—the A6 TDI's most direct competitor. The A6, equipped with 20" wheels, summer tires, and various factory sport options is a hands-down winner over the 3 Series and 535d models I've driven.
My 335d with sport package is unquestionably a better pure driver's car than the A6; however, this is due in part to its hydraulic steering. Since virtually all new cars in the A6's class now have more fuel efficient electrically assisted power steering, there is an unavoidable loss of feedback. This is true for the A6. It doesn't mean the steering is imprecise or bad, just less communicative. Even with S-Line trim and sport options—and with the steering feel set to "dynamic," the steering is still very light at low speeds, but it gets a bit heavier at speed, which is a good thing. Audi's sport steering wheel is elegant looking as well as a delight to hold.
Interior aesthetics are stunningly beautiful throughout the cabin. All materials look and feel top notch. The front seats are comfortable and very adjustable, but still not as good as BMW sport seats, or as good as the seats in my old Audi S8 from 12 models years ago. The seats are **very** good, though. Cabin lighting is gorgeous, appearing to have been borrowed from NASA. Virtually everything one could want illuminated is softly and tastefully illuminated.
My biggest gripe about the interior is that the MMI screen opens and pops up every time the car starts, and it retracts every time the car turns off. I have a very hard time believing that won't break at some point--and be very expensive to repair. I do, however appreciate the clean appearance that the interior has when the screen disappears into the dash.
Exterior appearance is typical Audi: generally conservatively styled (except for the snout) with beautiful lines. The LED tail lights and daytime running lights have a futuristic and aggressive look about them. My particular car was equipped with full LED headlamps, which I don't think I would have ordered for the extra $1,400 or so price premium for that option, but it was on the car I liked on the dealer lot. The full LEDs add to the futuristic appearance, and they function well. They should also last for a very long time without noticeable dimming.
My vehicle is black with S-Line trim. I wasn't looking specifically for a black car, but the large black grill work on the snout--in my opinion--works better when the body color is also dark. The optional 20" wheels--much to my surprise--don't make the ride choppy, excessively firm, or excessively noisy. Again, I would have steered clear of that option if I were ordering the car, for fear that the 35-series tires would offer too little cushion and protection for the wheels. But the car is still incredibly comfortable and civilized, and the 20" wheels--which are slightly smoky in color--look gorgeous and sporty, filling the wheel wells beautifully.
Driving performance is excellent. The all-wheel drive makes the power delivery very subtle and low drama. It is far less dramatic than winding a high-revving gasser up to its redline, but the diesel feels like it accomplishes its work effortlessly, starting just off idle after a brief turbo lag. In real life, this diesel feels quicker and more responsive in the rev range where normal people do their normal driving. Yet it still manages to be incredibly fun--and sweet sounding--when wound up.
Fuel economy has exceeded expectations. In my first 1,000 miles, I have averaged 32 MPG in mixed driving. With just a little care (i.e., not a bunch of crazy hyper-miling techniques), I can generally achieve 30 mpg in city driving. I have not observed 38 MPG highway yet, but that is because I have spent much of my highway driving in stop-and-go traffic, or cruising at seriously extra-legal speeds. Staying below 80 MPH should make the EPA claimed 38 MPG within easy reach.
Finally, on the subject of fuel efficiency, keep in mind that the value proposition here goes beyond just saving money at the pump (which, by the way would take some years to pay back the initial price premium for the diesel). The ultra long range means you will be wasting less time getting fuel. Depending on the value of your time, this may pay for the cost differential faster than the fuel savings would!
This car is an all-around excellent combination of comfortable size for four adults, good storage space, an amazing interior, excellent power and performance, and fuel economy that seems totally impossibly awesome!"
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