I have to confess that I’ve spent most of my life as an anti-diesel snob. Oh sure, diesels were great for trucks and that odd cousin who just likes being different. But the combination of the clackity diesel noise and the distinctive smell always made me love those gasoline vapors.
The 2014 Audi A6 TDI has opened my mind to not just accept a diesel, but to actually like it. To be fair, The A6 TDI is the first modern diesel I’ve driven. But that’s partially because I worked so hard to avoid them.
The greatest thing about Audi’s 3.0 liter turbo diesel is that you don’t know you’re driving a diesel. When you’re outside the car, you can hear a slight diesel clacking. But once you’re inside, you forget completely. That is until you look down at your fuel gauge, which takes a long time to hit empty. The A6 TDI gets 29 mpg city/38 highway. Highway mileage numbers are often just an aspiration for me. I rarely seem to reach the upper limit without actually working at fuel efficiency. Driving from San Diego to Phoenix I actually got 39 mpg zipping along at slightly above the speed limit (which is 75 on the Arizona highway).
Audi says the TDI engine is good for 240 horsepower. Honestly, I thought it felt like more. It will supposedly do 0-60 in 5.5 seconds which is very respectable. Perhaps even more importantly is that Audi says it’s optimized the torque for driving between 30 and 60 mph. Since that’s where most drivers spend the vast majority of their time, it means the car is ready to meet your daily needs.
It’s also a clean diesel. So you don’t get the smell and the smoke. Of course the BMW and Mercedes make the same pitch, but it simply means the A6 is meeting the competition head on.
About the only thing you still need to think about with diesel is that not every gas station carries it. Sure enough, the first station I pulled into driving home only had gasoline. There are plenty of stations with diesel, you just need to make sure you don’t hit the wrong one while driving on fumes.
Inside there is nothing to make you think you’re driving anything other than a luxury sedan. The seats have a high quality look and feel with plenty of adjustments. Interestingly, while I thought they were perfect for a six-hour drive, my wife didn’t agree. It’s something you’ll have to figure out on your own.
The A6 has plenty of tech. One thing that sets it apart from most other cars these days is that Audi hides its display panel. Most cars have simply made it a part of the dash design. When the Audi display is not needed, it hides in a slot in the dash. Push a button and it automatically slides out and pops up. It makes for a clean look when not in use. On the other hand, when the display is out, it looks like it’s just stuck on the dash.
The display is not touch sensitive. The techie stuff is controlled with the multi-media interface (MMI) near the gear selector on the center console. It takes a little training, but I liked it.
My test car had the $2,800 driver assist package. You get adaptive cruise control and lane assist, among other things. Those two items combined to give me a taste of the automotive future. I was driving down the freeway with both engaged. I took my hands off the wheel and my foot off the throttle. The car controlled everything. It kept my speed just right for traffic, and when the car started to drift, it corrected and brought me back into my lane. The car wasn’t happy about my laissez-faire attitude and warned me to take control. Still, it was interesting to see just how much the A6 could do for me.
Of course all this comes at a price. The sticker on my test car was $66,795. That’s some pretty serious money for a mid-size luxury sedan. But if you want to feel like you’re stepping into the future of both diesel and safety technology, the Audi A6 TDI will deliver on both fronts. And if it could make me a little less snobbish, anything is possible.