The Audi A6 is a four-door executive car available since 1994. As the successor to the Audi 100 (known as the Audi 5000 in the United States), the A6 is now in its fifth generation.
Introduction: Audi 100 Turns to A6
The first generation Audi A6 closely resembled the last generation of Audi 100, known as the C4. It was fitted with new lights and grille, but offered many of the same chassis, engine, and transmission options. There were a wide variety of engine choices for the Audi A6, which first included a 1.8L 20v inline-four with 123 horsepower, up to a 2.8L 30v V-6 with 190 horsepower gasoline options, with 1.9L and 2.5L turbodiesel options (89 horsepower and 138 horsepower, respectively) available too. The Audi S6 used a 2.2L turbocharged inline-5 with 227 horsepower, but a larger 4.2L 32v V-8 engine was also available, that produced 286 horsepower in the S6 and 322 horsepower in the S6 Plus. Most of the A6 versions used Audi’s Worsen-based Quattro four-wheel drive system. The top speed of the 2.2L S6 was reported to be 146 mph with a 0 to 62 mph (0 to 100 km/h) time of 6.7 seconds. A 6-speed transmission was used in most markets for the S6, but the North American market received a 5-speed manual transmission instead. The V-8 S6 came with a 4-speed automatic transmission, with a 6-speed manual available as an option. The S6 Plus was an extremely limited production vehicle from Audi’s perspective, who has completed multiple 1 million unit models. There were a total of 952 Audi A6 Plus produced between 1996 to 1997, all sold as 1997 model years. In order to achieve the increased performance, Audi reworked the engine and used a redesigned 6-speed transmission, plus improved suspension, brakes, and wheels.
Second Generation Updates
The second generation Audi A6 (Typ 4B) was released in 1997, still featuring a wide lineup in engine choices form 1.8L inline-4 up to a 4.2L turbocharged V-8. The 1.9L and 2.5L diesel also remained in the lineup. A saloon was released the same year, while an Avant (wagon) version came in 1998. It was constructed on top of the Volkswagen Group C5 platform, which would go on to make Car and Driver magazine’s Ten Best list in 2000 and 2001, with its 2.4L and 2.8L V-6 engine options. The A6 received an updated exterior design in 2002, plus new engine choices which mostly increased displacement size and power. The 1.8L engine was no longer available, now in favor or a 2.0L as the base engine option with 129 horsepower. The same was true for the 2.8L engine, replaced by a 3.0L version with 217 horsepower. A continuously variable transmission was available in most front-wheel drive (non-quattro) models. The four-wheel drive variants used the Quattro system. The Audi Allroad Quattro was also released with raised ground clearance and different exterior styling.
Third Generation: Size Increases
The third generation Audi A6 came in 2004, designed by Satoshi Wada in 2001. It switched to a longer design with a tornado line running across the entire length of the vehicle from from to back at the shoulders. The interior saw major updates to the multimedia interface and controls, which the fuel stratified injection system was introduced under the hood. A special A6L longer wheelbase version was released to the Chinese market. This year of S6 bumped up the engine size as well, now using a 5.2L FSI V-10 engine with 429 horsepower and 398 lb ft of torque. The A6 was still a calm luxury car, but the S6 was quickly transforming into a power-hungry road beast. The A6 Allroad Quattro was also revised, and now was available with the 4.2L engine and 6-speed tiptronic transmission. It’s off-road styling and increased power made it a special model in the ever growing world of crossover vehicles. Perhaps it was a bit ahead of its time as the small SUV market would continue to boom.
Fourth and Fifth Generation
The fourth generation Audi A6 was liable from 2012 to 2018 model years. It was showing the A6’s increasing size, which now was closed to the A8 than the A4 or A5. The smallest engine choice had now bumped up to a 2.8L V-6 with 204 horsepower.
The current, fifth generation Audi A6 was first available in the 2019 model year and included a mild hybrid drivetrain to reduce fuel consumption. The S6 now comes with selective torque control, lowered body, and 5 sport driving modes. The RS6 Avant has a slightly wider body and flared wheel arches, plus a 4.0L TFSI engine with 590 lb ft of torque.