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Audi A6 a superb autobahn-burner

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Audi (and its parent company Volkswagen) is shredding the sales charts.

In fact, the Audi brand has set record U.S. sales every month of this year. Initial sales for the new 2012 A6 posted an increase of 43.9 percent last month over October 2010.

Why the explosive growth? After a week in a new A6, the answer became clear: This is truly a top-notch automobile.

2012 Audi A6 quattro Prestige VEHICLE TYPE: Four-door, five-passenger, luxury sport sedan
BASE PRICE: $49,900
PRICE AS TESTED: $61,530 (incl. delivery fees)
POWERTRAIN: 3.0-liter, DOHC supercharged V-6; 310 horsepower; 325 lb.-ft. torque; eight-speed automatic transmission; all-wheel drive
WHEELBASE/LENGTH: 114.7″/193.9″
CURB WEIGHT: 4,045 pounds
EPA FUEL RATING: 19 mpg city/28 highway (regular grade)

It’s beautiful to look at while providing generous accommodations for four (five in a pinch) in a beautifully outfitted cabin.

It’s quite quick yet returns a welcome 28 miles per gallon on the highway.

With Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system and a meticulously tuned suspension, the A6 tackles twisty backroads and interstate slogs with equal aplomb.

And the A6 packs a plethora of available high-tech gizmos, including an electronic adaptive suspension, automatic parallel parking, head’s-up information display and mobile Internet, to name but a few.

Powering the A6 is a choice of engines: a 2.0-liter turbo four or a supercharged V-6. The six’s 310 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque launch the sedan with satisfying ease while the eight-speed automatic transmission cycles through the gears imperceptibly.

Also virtually imperceptible is road or wind noise. Whatever the speed or surface, the A6 is limo-quiet.

Audi has forged a reputation for high-end interiors, and the A6’s reaches new heights. Soft-touch plastics keep company with satin-finish metals and glowing wood accents in a dashboard design that sweeps into the doors.

Tasteful white-on-black gauges add an extra touch of class to the impeccably tailored surroundings. Switchgear is ergonomically positioned for the most part and quickly becomes intuitive.

The A6 has long been an also-ran among BMW’s sporty 5-series and Mercedes-Benz’s serene E-Class, but no longer. Audi has engineered a fully competitive sedan, with the added impetus of standout styling and top-flight performance.