You really are spot on with your description of the engine and the transmission. The delay in shifting is most bothersome. The delay is so prominent it's almost a saftey issue. This past week, I needed to change lanes quickly to avoid a car that was moving up fast in the left lane. I hit the gas hard and it took the transmission so long to downshift I barely made it past the car in the left lane. Kind of dangerous.I feel my 4 cyl A6 isnt necassarily underpowered, but shifts out of 1st way too quick, takes a weekend to downshift, and seems to "hunt" for the right gear if you let off the throttle for a few seconds and slow down, then get back on the throttle (like taking a corner at speed or something). When you hammer on it, it moves decent for a 3700# car, its just the trans programming (or lack there-of) that really hurts this car. Good thing theres a manual mode, right?
My first experience with a truly electronic transmission was the 4T80e transmission in the Northstar Engine. You want to talk about a world class transmission - this was it. The downshifts were faster than the blink of an eye. Any the overall quality of the shifts was amazing. The A6 in the Malibu is a highly sophisticated electronic transmission. There's no reason why it doesn't have the responsiveness that the 4T80e had.