One hallmark of a successful automotive brand is a well balanced product line. Offering something for everyone, as long as those products are done well, not only ensures a good cross section of buyers, but often guarantees repeat business as customers return for more of the same, or move up through the product line. Well, Audi is one such brand. And this time, we take a look at two members of their well-balanced portfolio: a new technology, fuel- conscious sedan, and a high-strung, wicked-fast wagon.
First up of our test duet is this 2002 Audi A6 3.0 CVT. The 3.0 CVT designates a new 3- liter all-aluminum V6 combined with an ultra-smooth CVT continuously variable transmission. The new 3.0, DOHC, 30-valve V6 delivers 220 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque.
Audi is the first manufacturer to develop a stepless CVT that can handle the output of a production V6. Audi’s multitronic CVT uses an electronic multi-plate wet clutch instead of a traditional torque converter. A strong link-plate chain, rather than a flexible metal belt, is stretched between two variators to provide an infinitely variable driving ratio.
Despite the extra bulk of the A6, the V-6/CVT combo produced impressive results, 0 to 60 in 6.9 seconds. With trips through the quarter mile trap in 15.3 seconds at 92 MPH. We did notice a slight jittery feeling in the transmission under a hard launch, and with the traction control disabled, you can spin your wheels a bit. Like the A4, the A6 CVT is not available with the Quattro all-wheel drive system. But once this baby hooks up, it moves smartly down the road. And as promised, the CVT delivers seamless shifting that is second to none. There’s also a manual mode that divides the transmission into 6 ranges for those who want a more sporting experience.
Another big payoff in CVT technology comes at the gas pump. EPA estimates for the 3.0 CVT are 19 mpg city and 25 highway. Not only did we average 25 in our mixed mileage loop, but after a weekend of 400 miles of hard driving, kid-induced taxi service, one of our staffers recorded 26 mpg!
Now, for those that require a more spacious and versatile kid taxi but don’t give two hoots about fuel economy, the 2002 Audi S6 Avant is your machine.
This family wagon rocket is propelled by Audi’s 4.2 liter, DOHC, 40-valve V8 that pumps out 340 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. Those stats alone make it an instant staff favorite. And with 0 to 60 runs of 6.1 seconds and 1/4 mile times of 14.5 seconds at 99 MPH, there was some serious jockeying in the mornings at the sign up sheet. Power hits like a sledgehammer right off the line, and then smoothly builds to a redline crescendo.
But in our slalom exercise, our drivers found that power comes at a price. With the ESP stability system disengaged, the S6 turned out to be surprisingly tail happy, despite the presence of Quattro traction. Turn ins are spot on, but if you’re not judicious with the throttle, be prepared for rear wheel swing. So, leave the ESP on!
The S6 Avant uses a four-link front, double A-arm rear sport suspension that lowers the body 20 millimeters, increases shock compression by 40 percent, and stiffens up the spring rate by 30 percent over the standard A6 Avant. And while the highway ride is stiffer than the A6 Avant’s, it’s still not in the realm of harsh. And like all Audi’s we’ve tested in the past several years, the car’s carved-from-stone solidity imparts a high degree of security. A feeling that’s enhanced even more by the large ABS-controlled vented discs at the corners that brought us down from 60 in a short 114 feet.
Interior accommodations are on par with any luxury car in its class; comfortable seating, all the expected bells and whistles, and 36.4 cubic feet of cargo room behind the rear seats. Fold them down for 73.2 cubic feet.
Unfortunately for us in public TV, the Audis in this test command prices that are on par with their class as well. Base price on the S6 Avant is $59,275. Our as tested price was $61,875. The A6 3.0 CVT starts at $35,975. Our tester’s final price was $39,075.
But regardless of the prices, we’re hooked on the 2002 Audi A6 3.0 CVT and the S6 Avant. And as long as Audi continues to produce innovative and high octane products like these two cars, we’ll keep coming back for more!
Engine: 3.0, Dohc, 30-valve V6
Torque: 221 Lb Feet
0-60 MPH: 6.9 Seconds
1/4 Mile: 15.3 Seconds @ 92 MPH
EPA Mileage: 19 MPG City 25 MPG Highway