Used Audi A6 review: 1997-2011
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For many years Audi lagged behind arch rivals Mercedes-Benz and BMW models in the prestige car stakes in Australia.
That was despite it holding equal ranking in most European countries. However, Audi is now seen as one of the ‘big three’ in the eyes of upmarket Australian buyers.
The so-called single-frame grille, with its huge radiator grille has been a stroke of genius in automotive design and is arguably the main reason for the big increase in sales in recent years.
In Australia, aggressive marketing and a willingness to throw serious money at marketing the brand has also played a major part. The subject of this week’s used-car review, the A6, is the mid-size vehicle in the Audi range.
It replaced the Audi 100 in November 1994, but struggled in the sales race in its early days. A virtually all-new A6 reached Australia in November 1997 improved things somewhat so we will start looking in detail at the A6 from that model onwards.
The aforementioned single-frame grille reached the A6 range in Australia in August 2005 and things really started to hike along. Interior design has been a strong point with Audis for many years and the cabin is close to immaculate in the way it’s themed and then constructed.
The Audi A6 has high levels of noise, vibration and harshness suppression that make it a very capable high-speed cruiser. Interior space is OK for five adults, though lack of support in the centre-rear position makes it a noticeably less comfortable position than the other seats.
Boot space is very good in the sedan. Audi A6 has a reasonably strong presence in the prestige station wagon market in Australia, though not to the huge extent it does on its home market.
Handling is better than average for a front-wheel-drive car, though the powertrain layout, with the engine being mostly in front of the axle, means the nose-heavy machine tends to push slightly wide on corners.
This has been toned down with each successive model, but is still a weak point compared with other vehicles in this upmarket German class. Owners who are more interested in the aforementioned waft-along cruising are unlikely to ever experience the understeering.
There is the option of Audi’s famous quattro all-wheel-drive system for added traction on slippery roads. It too can suffer from front-end push but does so at higher cornering efforts. Quattro isn't on offer in all models, but is well worth the extra money if you’re a keen driver.
Engines are many and varied, with petrol and diesel units on offer. In the petrol lineup there's everything from turbocharged, 2.0-litre four-cylinder units to a sweet little V6 with a capacity of just 2.4 litres and larger V6s displacing 2.8, 3.0 and 3.2 litres.
These are complex cars and it's best that you have all work, other than the vary basics of servicing, done professionally. Audi dealers are generally restricted to major metropolitan areas but you will find some in major country centres as well. Contact Audi's head office in Sydney for further information.
Insurance costs are relatively high, but no more than you would expect from quality cars built from top-end materials. Premiums don’t usually vary a lot between major players, but it's always worth shopping around for the best deal.
Make sure you are comparing like with like before making your decision. As well as the standard A6 models, Audi also imports high-performance variants. Called, in ascending order of performance, Audi A6 S Line, Audi S6 and Audi RS6, the latter are sold in pretty limited numbers and are aimed at a very specialised market, so won’t be examined in detail here.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Rust is rare as Audi was a pioneer in using all-galvanised panels in its bodies. Poor crash repairs which didn’t see the metal being properly protected can still lead to troubles.
Interiors are finished to a very high standard and last well. Nevertheless, careless owners can still cause damage so check the complete interior. Sun damage, even on cars that have been kept outside continuously, is rare, but check the upper surfaces of the dashboard as well as the condition of the rear parcel shelf.
Look for oil leaks from early V6 engines and if the engine. Be sure the cam drive belt has been replaced on schedule. Look for oil leaks from the power-steering rack and the hoses connected to it.
Check that the automatic transmission works smoothly and does not change gears when it shouldn’t. If a tiptronic is fitted run it up and down through the gears to make sure it selects them quickly.
CAR BUYING TIP
Beware the social-climbers who have bought cars they can’t afford to maintain correctly. If you can’t examine the service books be very suspicious.
|Year||Price From||Price To|
Range and Specs
|2.4 V6||2.4L, PULP, 5 SP AUTO||$5,610 – 7,920||1997 Audi A6 1997 2.4 V6 Pricing and Specs|
|2.4 V6 Quattro||2.4L, PULP, 5 SP AUTO||$6,050 – 8,580||1997 Audi A6 1997 2.4 V6 Quattro Pricing and Specs|
|2.6||2.6L, PULP, 4 SP AUTO||$4,950 – 7,260||1997 Audi A6 1997 2.6 Pricing and Specs|
|2.6 Quattro||2.6L, PULP, 4 SP AUTO||$5,830 – 8,140||1997 Audi A6 1997 2.6 Quattro Pricing and Specs|