£57,215 - £59,440 Price range
The Audi S6 is the performance version of the A6 and sits below the fire-breathing RS6. It has a beautifully made cabin and all-weather capabilities thanks to its quattro 4×4 system. Its rivals include the BMW 5 Series, the Mercedes E-class and the Jaguar XF.
The interior is one of its two biggest selling points – Audis have gorgeous interiors and the S6 cabin is regarded as one of the best out of all Audis. Passenger space is generous and the S6 can also be ordered as an estate (called the Avant) for increased practicality.
The second selling point of the car is the 4.0-litre turbocharged V8 petrol engine that is also used in other performance Audis in different power levels. It is a very modern and responsive engine providing the heavy saloon with explosive acceleration from any speed.
Where the S6 loses a bit to the competition is in the way it drives. The 1,955kg saloon feels most at home on the motorway and quickly loses composure when presented with a series of corners. It’s the front-biased four-wheel-drive and light steering that make the S6 a less appealing choice for enthusiasts.
Being nearly the most expensive A6 you can buy, the S6 gets a decent amount of standard equipment and there is a huge list of optional extras. Be careful because they can add thousands of pounds to the price of the car.
The A6 has one of the smartest cabins and the S6 interior is equally impressive – the only differences are more supportive sports seats, stylish brushed aluminium paddle shifters on the steering wheel and some carbon fibre trim pieces. Other than that the cabin has the same quality, fit and finish as the regular A6 which is flawless.
Audi S6 passenger space
Legroom and headroom are plentiful for four adults to travel over huge distances at a brisk pace and the amount of storage is about on par with rivals.
Audi S6 boot space
Practicality in the S6 is unchanged from the A6 and this means you get a bigger boot than in the BMW 5 Series and slightly less luggage space than in a Mercedes E-class. If the 530-litre boot is not enough for your needs you can go for the S6 Avant estate, which has a capacity of 1,680 litres with the rear seats down and 565 when they’re up.
The S6 comes with Audi’s Drive Select system that lets you choose between a lot of different driving modes depending on the road conditions or your mood. The problem is that there’s too much choice – you can alter the engine’s response, the steering’s weight, the loudness of the exhaust, the sharpness of the gearbox, the ride stiffness and even the sport differential’s characteristics. These are grouped in several modes called Efficiency, Comfort, Auto, Dynamic and Individual. Some might like the levels of customisation that the S6 offers, but reviewers found that the car felt best when left in Auto.
For all-weather, all-purpose fast distance covering, the S6 is hard to fault – it is relaxingly quiet on a cruise with the smooth rumble of the engine adding another level of comfort. It has no problem being driven fast, but it just doesn’t excite the driver the way a 5 Series will.
The 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 petrol that powers the S6 is also used in the RS6, RS7, S8 and the Bentley Continental GT. In the S6 it delivers 444hp which is enough for a brisk 4.4 seconds from 0-62mph. The top speed is a governed 155mph and if you want to go faster you’d have to go for the RS6 and its 186mph optional speed limit.
While the A6 Ultra diesel can return a fuel consumption of 69mpg, the 30.7mpg of the S6 may seem dismal, but if we take into consideration that the S6 weighs close to two tonnes, has more than 400 horsepower and is four-wheel-drive the numbers don’t seem that bad anymore.
The fuel economy is achieved partly by an improved start stop system and party by clever cylinder on demand technology. When driven slowly, the S6 only uses half of its cylinders and as soon as you put your foot down all eight spring back into life in an instant. Reviewers were impressed by the barely noticeable changeover.
While the S6 hasn’t been tested by Euro NCAP, the regular A6 scored the full five stars when it was tested in 2011. This being one of the fastest cars in the model range means Audi has done all they can to make it as safe as possible.
There are airbags front, rear and side as standard as well as the latest in passive and active safety systems such as lane-keep assist, automatic city braking, infrared night vision and adaptive cruise control as optional extras.
The S6 is equipped with Audi’s MMI 6.5-inch infotainment system with satellite navigation that tucks away in the dashboard when the ignition is off. Along with the sat-nav the S6 also gets a 10 speaker stereo, climate control with four different temperature zones, parking sensors as well as LED headlights.
The equipment levels are comparable to those of rivals and the optional extras list is extensive but can add thousands of pounds to the car’s price, so choose wisely.
The Audi S6 is an impressive all-purpose large executive car that doesn’t look to different to a regular S-Line A6 and this just adds to its understated appeal. It’s an incredibly capable car that can cross continents without breaking a sweat. Its only problem is that the rivals are equally good overall and even better in some extents – for more driver engagement go for the BMW and if comfort is your priority go for the Mercedes.