Friday, June 18, 2010

2010 Audi A6 3.2 FWD CVT Review

While I was at the 2011 BMW 5-Series Ultimate Driving Event, I also drove the 2010 Audi A6 3.2 FWD CVT which they had on hand for comparison. They should have brought along the A6 3.0T Quattro for a fair comparison. Anyway, this event was paid for by BMW, so they could do whatever they want. I’d gladly take the A6 3.2 FWD, or any car for that matter, out for a spin.

The exterior styling is elegant, but a bit dated in my eyes. The trendy LED daytime-running-lights and taillights look cool, but they couldn’t hide the car’s aging design. The interior also shows its age quite gracefully. Fit-and-finish is top notch, a VW/Audi tread mark. The soft plastic is high quality, but there is just too much of it. The leather is pretty hard though. All the controls operate with precision and are placed logically. The MMI is so much better than the original iDrive from BMW that it seems to me that BMW has used Audi’s MMI as a benchmark in developing its latest generation iDrive.

The A6, in this configuration, is just a bad car in terms of driving, and I said that with the lack of power, when compared with BMW 550i, taken out of the equation. The engine is okay with adequate power and is pretty smooth. The CVT is extremely sluggish and slow to react. Mashing the throttle at a standing still, it takes a while for things to get moving. This was my first encounter with CVT in a car other than the Toyota Prius, and I absolutely hated it! As far as I’m concerned, CVT should not be used on any car other than hybrids where the engine switches from on and off frequently while in motion. Another major problem surfaces once the car starts going eventually, the A6 FWD had so much torque steer that I was constantly fighting with the steering wheel just to keep the car in a straight line. Worse yet, the steering was too light and had very little feedback that I had no idea what the front tires were doing other than it was fighting me. Close to 70% of A6's weight is at the front of the car, and even worse, most of it are ahead of the front axle. The physics takes its toll in the big way. Brakes were not bad except there is a lot of front-end squading and rear-end lifting under hard braking. Again, physics wins another one here. The word “balance”, in term of handling, never came to mind during the entire drive. The ride is pretty good though. It’s just a bit more floaty than the BMW 5-Series, but the body motion is still well controlled.

I’m not sure how much AWD would have helped its driving dynamic, but I don’t understand why anyone would buy this car, at least in this configuration, and not ANY of its competitors. Heck, I’d buy the VW Passat or CC (with 2.0T and DSG) which do everything almost as well as, if not better than, this car if I were in the market for a FWD Germen sedan at half the price.

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