If there's one thing that German automakers are known for, it's class. Audi, for over a hundred years already, has slowly but surely climbed to the top of the heap by manufacturing cars that are a perfect blend of reliable performance, great power, and unmatchable luxury. This year, in fact, it has overtaken competitors BMW and Mercedes Benz to become the world's best selling luxury car brand. The Audi A6 Quattro, which debuted in 1994, is one perfect example of the kind of quality car that drives the brand's success.
1994-1997: Smooth transitions
Audi's mid-sized car used to be called the 100. When Audi gave the 100 an overhaul, it was rebranded as an executive car and given the A6 tag to fit the company's new alphanumeric nomenclature. With the exception of new lights, a new grille, chassis and much-improved engines, the A6 was still very similar to the 100 that preceded it. To fit a range of needs, the car could be equipped with either a 1.8-L 20v inline-4 or a 2.8-L 30v V6--both being supercharged. More specifically, the A6 was full four-wheel drive--hence the "Quattro" designation.
1997-2004: Stepping up to the plate
In the latter half of 1997, the A6 finally became completely differentiated from its predecessor. This new A6 was, in fact, branded on the same level as BMW's 5-Series and Mercedes Benz's E-Class--both very luxurious executive cars. On the surface, the more modern, Italian-inspired design was praised for being both slick and classy. Two new 30-valve V6 engines--2.4-L or 2.8-L--replaced the older available engines, and 5-speed tiptronic automatic transmission was offered as an alternative to manual transmission.
In 2000 and 2001, the A6 featured on Car and Driver magazine's Ten Best list. This inspired yet another facelift in 2002. Once again, the grille and lights were redesigned, exhaust tips were exposed, and the tail light color changed from red to amber. Under the hood, the powerful 2.8-L V6 was replaced by a massive 3.0-L that put out over 217 bhp--all controlled by Quattro. These changed were well worth the effort as the A6 Quattro won the World Car of the Year award for 2005--the very year the now-prestigious award came out!
2005-2011: Hitting it out of the park
After the dust had settled, Audi set out to prepare the A6 for the future. The first major change came in the form of another engine upgrade. The new 3.0-L V6 was supercharged and gave over 310 hp. It had a much higher state of tuning, as well as being mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Amazing new technology--like integrated heads-up display and Active Lane Assist--only added to both the A6's appeal and safety. An already much-praised car became even better.
2012 and beyond
This year will see the introduction of the A6 hybrid--representing Audi's foray into the "green" car market--as well as the A6 allroad Quattro--designed to be a more rugged version of the famed executive car. With this kind of momentum, backed by the strength of its history, Audi and its A6 Quattro are looking to cement their reputation as being top dog when it comes to performance and luxury.