When people think of German midsize luxury sedans, the ones that readily come to mind for most people are the BMW 5 Series and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class. But the other player in that trilogy is the Audi A6, which doesn't sell at the same volume as the other aforementioned sedans (A6 sales were just over one third those of the E-Class's in 2014), but it genuinely deserves to. The Audi A6 is the scrappy underdog that's worth rooting for.

Deceptively quick

When it comes to sports sedans, the toughest thing to get right is the balance of comfort and performance. Audi has achieved an excellent combination of the two. Everything about the way this car performs is smooth. Acceleration from the 353-horsepower, 3.0-liter supercharged V6 engine is quick and authoritative, but is so buttery that the seat-of-the-pants feel of the speed you're traveling at is deceptive. On more than one occasion, a quick glance at the speedometer showed that what felt like 60 mph was actually a lot more than that. You have to be vigilant to make sure you don't get into too much trouble when driving at highway speeds. The transmission is just as smooth, shifting right when you want it to, and doing it in a subtle manner. Handling is excellent, thankfully lacking the harsh razor-edge feel of some sports sedans, and the ride is compliant without being mushy.

Also: Kelley Blue Book Best Buy Awards of 2015

Elegant interior

Audi's interiors are known for modern design and elegance, and our tester continues that idea. The $69,000 Prestige model we drove came with Nougat Brown leather seats and layered Walnut wood inlays, a color combination that was appealing to the eye, and that rare mix of warm and welcoming while looking very modern. The design of the wood inlays had the effect of being like a subtle pinstripe on a fine suit, and the sculpting on the doors contribute to the tailored feel of the interior. Stand-out details like an excellent audio system, easy-to-navigate MMI and the use of Google Earth data in the navigation system add to the experience. One oddity: the button for push-button start is on the right side of the transmission shifter, while the electronic parking brake is on the left, within easy reach of the driver's right hand. That decision cause more than one false start (no pun intended) when trying to start the car, but it's something that an owner could quickly get used to.

It's surprising that the A6 doesn't have sales that rival those of the E-Class and 5 Series. Perhaps it doesn't grab headlines because of the sedan's subtle exterior style. But for those who want a modern, fast, luxurious midsize sedan, the 2016 Audi A6 is an excellent choice.

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