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Audi A6 by Saturn

The Car
The A6 is a gorgeous car in many senses of the word. Design and engineering radiate from the car since its major redesign in 1997. The car packaged a high level of roominess, amazing interior fit and finish that was consistently considered the benchmark for other makers, and Quattro all-wheel-drive. The car was very competitively priced, and, as it evolved, grew some very hot engines in the 2.7T and 4.2 V8 options. The last iteration of the B5 A6 was the uber-sedan, the RS6, packing a massive amount of power thanks to its twin-turbo 4.2 V8 engine, as tuned by Audi's in-house answer to AMG and BMW's M, Quattro GmbH. Well, like all cars, no matter how great the last A6 may have been, it had to evolve or die.

Enter the 2005 Audi A6. A gorgeous car in many ways, but perhaps not up to the elegance of the car it replaces. While some may not like the new Audi shield face (I happen to really like it), there are some odd angles and accents on the new A6. For instance, the lip of the front facia seems to bow out, or at least straight down, whereas most cars have a nice inward movement in the front end, or perhaps light flaring. On the new A6, it looks more like someone didn't finish detailing the angles on the front end when building models.

What the new A6 has is technology. Nav, HIDs, all-wheel-drive, ESP and traction control, dual-zone automatic climate control, etc, etc, the car is feature packed. The most advanced piece of technology in the new A6 has got to be its 3.2 litre FSI V6. FSI is Audi's direct-injection technology for their gasoline engines, similar to the TDI technology VW uses in its turbo diesel engines.

But, this article isn't focused on any of that. Instead, it's about the specific details of the car that seem really out of place. In fact, they're so out of place, they exist on another car in the marketplace...just one nowhere near the Audi's competitive set. Namely, the soon-to-be-canceled Saturn L-Series.

Side View
Here is where we see the first example of Saturn styling show its face on the Audi A6. While showing you this indentation on the L-Series, it's even more pronounced on the Ion. Here, we see an indentation accent near the bottom of the door that bows slightly upward as it moves to the back of the car. Indentations like this are commonly used to break up an otherwise slab-sided panel or section of a car. Personally, I'm not a fan of them usually, and I don't think the A6 needs it.

Some people complain about Mercedes design work in making the C-Class look so similar to the S-Class. They say it stinks for an S-Class owner who dropped $90 grand to have a car that costs a third as much look so similarmdash;even indistinguishable to some. I think the same can be said of the new CLK (which I really dislike) and the CL. From the front, it can be tough to tell them apart...well, for some people at least.

OK, maybe this doesn't look too bad to you, and maybe you don't see that much of a resemblance. But, it's not the individual detail, it's the combination of design elements from the Saturn that, overall, detract from the A6, and make it look like it should be featured in one of Saturn's commercials showing their dent-resistant doors.

Rear View
So, what seals the deal in my eyes? The first time I saw the rear end of the new A6, that's when the resemblance to a Saturn struck me. Look specifically at the chrome accent strip across the trunk, above the license plate. To me, this is just terrible. First, I think it's unnecessarily brazen in a market where svelte is a better way to go. As Audi's competitors do, you should let the shape of the car be the boldness of the design, not large swashes of chrome.

But, it's not just the use of chrome, it's the placement...literally, exactly the same in relation to the total rear end as on the Saturn. You can see an overall resemblance between the two...and if you can't, you're lying to yourself! Why does this bother me so much? Audi had done a great job of using chrome accents in the past. They put the chrome on the bottom edge of the trunk lid, and it really looked amazing. They switched from chrome to satin-finish aluminum midway through the A6's life, and that looked great, too. They did the same on the new A4, although the accent piece was actually mounted to the bumper's top face, rather than to the bottom edge of the trunk. Still, it produced the same effect. And, most importantly, no one else did it. So, why take a great accent piece, and ruin it by making it a copy-cat of everyone else (even Saturn!) in an overdone fashion?

The Final Review
As negative as I sound here, I do like the new A6. I actually saw one in person last week at a mall outside of Boston. It had manufacturer plates on it (from Michigan), which explains why I saw the car before it has been officially released. I will say, it works better in person, but still, something seems off in a few places. I still feel that the front end looks 90% done in terms of finished design, and I still don't like the two specific Saturn-esq design elements discussed here. Would I buy one, for sure. Would I buy one instead of an Acura TL? Definitely not.


Bastardized Bauhaus

Managing Editor

I blame it on Chris Bangle for beginning the bastardization of Bauhaus styling. While not as excessive as the new 5-Series, it took me awhile to warm up to the new A6 in terms of styling. Sure, the car is still a marvel of technology and luxury features, but I don't know if I'm a fan of that big, gaudy front end. Also, the rear quarters struck me as being odd as well. The previous A6 was a timeless masterpiece of automotive styling. It was a body style that endured 6 years without looking old - which is definitely an accomplishment in a world where automobile designs typically last only about 4 years before a total redesign or major facelift. In fact, I don't even think the exterior of the A6 needed to be redesigned at all. In my opinion, all that needed revising and freshening was the chassis and engine selection. Alas, those decisions are not up to me and we are stuck with this new iteration of the A6. While I do see the resemblance to the Saturn L series, I think it was pure coincidence that the two have similar styling cues. In the same light, a lot of people think the '04 Acura TL resembles the Pontiac Grand Prix from some angles, but I'm sure we all know that Honda didn't steal designers from Pontiac. Maybe this is a signal that car designs have reached a point where there's not much more to accomplish in terms of new styling, so every independent designer is unwittingly reaching for the same curve, the same bulge in the fender, the same chrome strip, etc. Obviously, this is all speculation but it's a possibility. Whatever the cause of the resemblance, I'm sure that most of the buying public will be able to tell the two apart. If not from a distance, then surely up close. Hey, who knows? The resemblance to the Saturn might help the A6 owner out by making it a less obvious target for criminals! Regardless, only time will tell if the new body style will wear as well as the last.