2012 Audi A6 3.0 TFSI quattro

Although Audi has been featured with Tony Stark behind the wheels of R8s in the Iron Man movies, so far as the 2012 A6 goes, it is remarkable that it wasn’t the official car of Tron Legacy. The car’s lighting system is every bit as futuristic and as compelling as that of the universe on a chip, and the sleek lines and performance of the car are Olivia Wilde-sexy. (There is the bit of temporal distortion that would be necessary as the movie came out in December 2010 before this car was available, but you know what I mean.)

As I piloted the sedan—which is far too pedestrian a word for the car, even though there they are, four doors hood (longish) and decklid (shortish), so it is a sedan, nothing as exotic as the R8—I noted a pair of black-haired, black-coated, black boot-wearing teens walking down Main Street, a couple of guys who would arguably have posters of Ms. Wilde in proximity to their Xbox 360s, do a swing around as I drove by. The LED daytime running lights will do that. After all, here it is, a white sedan moving along at the 25 mph speed limit. A sedate speed. No overly aggressive rumbles or grumbles from the 3.0-liter, 310-hp supercharged V6 engine with direct injection. In a town where all manner of cars—from classics to heavily camouflaged whoknowswhats—are being driven on a fairly regular basis.

And the A6 caught their attention.

Or maybe they’re just Jason Statham fans.

Even as other vehicle manufacturers are adding LEDs to their vehicles in the same way that they all seemed to be adding side vents (mainly faux), Audi, which started the trend, seems to be significantly more expert at execution. They are striking and functional, not seemingly added for the sake of “bling,” as is often the case with other vehicles.

The A6 is redesigned for 2012, and this is arguably more a case of tailoring than of starting from scratch. Things are tightened here, drawn back there, tucked in and accented. While some people talk about the difficulty of forming aluminum panels, clearly the people at Audi have more than mastered the art, as this car has aluminum panels affixed—and in the case of the roof of to the side panel frame structure, via laser welding—to a steel frame.

Speaking of aluminum, there is an extensive use of the material throughout the car, including in the suspension, thereby improving ride and handling via the minimization of unsprung weight. And this is a non-trivial consideration, given that 310-hp, 3.0-liter TFSI supercharged V6 under the hood that is capable of propelling the car, according to Audi, 0 to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds.

While on the subject of the powertrain, it is certainly worth mentioning that there is an eight-speed automatic with Tiptronic. While there are certainly bragging rights associated with having more gears, what is more important is that it contributes to improved fuel efficiency; the car is rated at 19 mpg city/28 mpg highway, and while someone who is going to buy a car that has a starting MSRP of $49,900 may not worry too much about what unleaded premium is retailing for, let’s face it: some of the people who have made the money to afford the A6 did so by paying attention to the details, so it does matter.

As minimizing weight is every bit as important in vehicles as it is to Hollywood actresses, it is worth noting that through diligent efforts, the clever Audi designers and engineers have managed to make the A6 3.0T 78 lb. lighter than the previous car (it tips the scales at 4,045 lb)—and note that there is absolutely no evident skimping on anything.

Inside there is the expected craftsmanship that is typical of Audi executions. There is wood in the car that actually looks like wood. It’s not that other vehicle manufacturers, particularly in this category, don’t use real wood, too, but all too often there seems to be an emphasis on making it look like it came out of a vat rather than from a tree.

But the tour de force is the Audi MMI, a 6.5-inch color screen that, upon ignition, emerges silently, vertically, from the center of the instrument panel, then indexes upward for visibility. And what an image you can see! The navigation is available with Google Earth and while most navigation systems provide little more than shapes that Euclid would be comfortable with, here you see a bird’s-eye view of what you’re actually driving through and to. At this point there could be another Tron or Iron Man reference.

Solid, sleek, quick, current, and stylish.

What’s not to like?

Selected Specs

Engine: 3-liter, supercharged V^

Material: Aluminum alloy block and head

Horsepower: 310 @ 5,500 rpm

Torque: 325 lb-ft @ 2,900 rpm

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic

Wheelbase: 114.7 in.

Length: 193.9 in.

Width: 73.8 in.

Height: 57.8 in.

Base curb weight: 4,045 lb.

EPA: 19/28 mpg city/hwy