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Audi's Sibling Rivalry: A6 vs. A7

Earlier this summer, we wrote about the Audi A7’s attractive design and comfortable, technology-packed interior. It’s a head-turner that got admiring looks nearly everywhere it was driven, and I was pleased with the performance from the A7’s supercharged 3.0-liter V6. Last week, Audi dropped off the all-new 2012 A6 so we could put the luxury large car through its paces. While the new A6 may not be quite as attractive as its big sister, the Jan Brady of Audi’s sedan lineup is certainly nothing to sneeze at.

Both cars were in Prestige trim, which includes comfort and convenience features such as four-zone climate control, front and rear parking sensors with backup camera and Audi’s MMI navigation system, which features Google Earth views. Additionally, both test cars featured Audi Connect, which uses a SIM card in the dash to provide a wireless data connection that can support up to eight Wi-Fi-enabled devices.

As I slid behind the wheel, the gauges, dash layout and center console all looked quite similar to the A7. My only complaint from the driver’s seat is that the gas and brake pedals seemed too close together for my size 12 boot. I also noticed this on the A7, and while pedal proximity didn’t affect drivability, the inside sole of my right foot would frequently graze the side of the brake pedal when I was on the throttle.

The A6 seats five while the A7 only has space for four. However, the A6’s center position looked fairly unwelcome thanks to a prominent hump where the driveshaft intrudes on leg room. Still, passenger space was good at all four corners. Open up the trunk, however, and the A6’s 14.1 cubic feet of cargo space may look small compared with the 24.5 cubes under the A7’s hatch.

The spec sheet shows that both cars are pretty similar. Our A6 was a 3.0T model, which means that it carries the same engine and transmission as the A7, as well as quattro all-wheel drive. Both cars also have the same wheelbase, but the A7 is 10.8 inches wider and 1.7 inches longer overall. I asked Anthony Foulk, Audi’s product manager for the A6, A7 and A8, about it at a manufacturer-sponsored event. “That’s all body,” says Foulk, who went on to say that both cars share the same chassis.

So with so many similarities, which one should you buy? Well, if you can live without the A7’s sleek profile and extra cargo space, I think the A6 is a lock. It offers similar features and comfort, and shoppers who opt for an A6 3.0T model also get a car that performs just as well. Then there’s the price. Our test A7 Prestige stickered at $68,630, while our A6 3.0T in the same trim had an MSRP of $60,130. With $8,500 left over, I think the A6 looks a lot more attractive. Maybe beauty is on the inside? 

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