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Car Report: The Audi A6 TDI -- a diesel that still runs great

Monday - 3/10/2014, 4:40am  ET

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The Audi A6 TDI Quattro is smart-looking, and you'll be surprised how powerful the diesel is. (WTOP/Mike Parris)
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WASHINGTON -- The Audi A6 midsize luxury sedan offers a good-looking car with a large interior and either a turbo four-cylinder engine or a sweet supercharged V6. But would a 3.0 TDI clean diesel engine detract from the sporty luxury car that the A6 really is? Could I lose the gas engine and live with a diesel?

Driving the Audi A6 TDI Quattro was a surprise. With 240hp, I wasn't expecting much, but diesels pack a lot of torque -- 428 ft-lbs. will throw you into the back of your seat. The nice 8-speed automatic kept the power in check and very smooth.

I really liked the power; I didn't miss not having a regular gas engine at all. You really couldn't tell that my A6 was TDI save for the large TDI clean diesel lettering on the side.

It was quiet both inside and outside the car -- no smoke or smell, like the diesels from years ago. I liked how smoothly it ran, and the fact that I got great gas mileage. I got more than 37 mpg for my 50-mile trips.

Even using it as a commuter car, I was near 30 mpg, thanks to the stop/start feature that shuts down the engine when the car is stopped. When you take your foot off the brake, the car restarts.

The brakes are very good and the all-wheel-drive system will get you where you need to go.

My tester was smart-looking -- a prestige model that adds aggressive S-line exterior treatment from the 420hp Audi S6. My tester also carried the sport package, with nice-looking 20-inch wheels and sport suspension, which gives the A6 an aggressive stance.

Also, the Audi came with the Driver Assistance Package, which includes a nifty adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go you set, and the car's cruise control will do the rest. But those options plus a few more take a $57,500 A6 TDI close to $66,000.

The interior is just as nice as the exterior, with comfortable heated and cooled leather seats and plenty of room for five adults or two car seats and adults in the back. I really liked the ash wood trim -- it warmed up the big A6 TDI interior. I drove nearly 400 miles, and the car got more comfortable the longer I drove it. I found Audi's MMI touch -- which controls the NAV, radio and climate control -- takes some getting used to, but it got better the more I played with the system.

I couldn't get the hang of the climate control until I visited my local Audi dealer, where Scott, an Audi brand specialist, set me straight in less than a minute.

After spending a week with the 2014 Audi A6 TDI Quattro, I came away impressed. It might cost a few grand more, but if you do some driving, that extra initial cost could save you when it comes time to fill the tank only every 600 miles or so. I now see why Audi is putting clean diesel in a luxury sedan, because, unless you need a 420hp V8 S6, this Audi A6 TDI diesel is efficient and still powerful enough to help forget the normal gas engine.

Editor's Note: Mike Parris is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association. The vehicles are provided by STI ,FMI or Event Solutions for the purpose of this review.

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