£59,315 - £61,540 Price range
29 - 30 MPG
Powering the S6 Avant is a turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 that in 2015 had its power increased by 30hp to 444hp. It’s capable of relentless acceleration, but can also cruise quietly at motorway speeds.
The Audi S6 Avant isn’t a sports car, but can cover ground extremely quickly and the car’s grippy four-wheel-drive system inspires lots of confidence even in wet and slippy conditions. Thanks to its adjustable suspension you can have a cosseting ride for the motorway or a much firmer set-up when you want to have fun on a twisting B-road.
If the characterful V8 doesn’t win you over, then the near-faultless interior might – testers praise the fit and finish, and the huge boot makes the S6 one of the most practical performance cars you can buy.
In terms of equipment, you get heated leather seats and climate control with four separate temperature zones as standard, but Audi is pushing its luck by asking for an extra £1,625 to fit an upgraded infotainment system. That’s a bit cheeky on a £58,000 car.
Once you step inside there are few differences between the S6 Avant and a regular A6 Avant, but that isn’t a bad thing, because the Audi has one of the best interiors in its class and the S6’s sporty details (such as carbon-fibre trim pieces) simply add flair.
Sadly, the S6 Avant doesn’t get the clever Virtual Cockpit of the Q7 and TT (that’ll will come in the all-new model due out in 2017), but its instrument binnacle can display the sat-nav map and directions in the space between the dials. The central infotainment screen tucks away neatly into the dash when not in use.
Audi S6 Avant passenger space
The S6 Avant is a big car and has plenty of space for four adults with head and legroom to spare. The middle rear seat isn’t so usable, because it’s narrow and the transmission tunnel eats into a fifth passenger’s foot room. The seats themselves are praised by testers – they especially liked the quilted leather which is similar to that used in Audi’s luxury fast limo, the S8.
Getting a good driving position is easy thanks to the 14-way electrically adjustable front seats. Visibility is decent for a long estate car, and front and rear parking sensors come as standard to help you into tight spaces.
Audi S6 Avant boot space
For a car with a 0-62mph time of 4.6 seconds, the S6 Avant estate is very practical. Its boot opening might not be the widest in class, but the load bay’s useful shape makes up for that. There’s 695 litres of space in the S6 Avant’s boot with the seats up, and 1,680 litres with the rear seats folded flat – this means the Mercedes E-Class estate beats it with 695 litres and 1,950 litres respectively. A BMW 5 Series Touring can hold the least amount of luggage in this class at 560 and 1,670 litres.
We’ve grown accustomed to S model Audis being extremely quick but a bit uninspiring to drive, and the S6 Avant does little to defy the stereotype. The best place to make full use of the S6’s potential is on the motorway, where from any legal speed you can call on a huge surge of acceleration for effortless overtaking.
The S6 Avant weighs more than two tonnes, and this really shows in the corners. The front tyres let go without too much warning from the steering, resulting in the nose of the car running wide. There is the option to fit Dynamic Steering (£1,210) which feels weightier as speed builds up, but reviewers say it feels unnatural.
To ensure a cosseting ride, there’s standard adaptive air suspension which, according to reviewers, does a really good job of making the S6 super comfortable. Owners get five driving modes to choose from: Efficiency, Comfort, Dynamic, Auto and Individual. The latter lets you mix and match steering wheel weight, throttle response and ride comfort to your liking. Leave it in Auto and the car’s systems will choose the best possible setup for the current road conditions.
The standard seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox suits this large estate car perfectly. Gearshifts are lightning fast, but it works best when left to its own devices rather than using the steering-wheel mounted paddles.
The 4.0-litre V8 powering the S6 sees action in a number of other Audis, as well as being available in the Bentley Continental GT. In the S6 it produces 444hp – as much as the recently discontinued RS4 model. With 0-62mph taking just 4.6 seconds on the way to a limited top speed of 155mph the S6 is no slouch.
Despite 2015’s increase in power the S6 is also now cheaper to run. Official fuel economy sits at 30.1mpg, but reviewers say real-world fuel consumption of around 20mpg is more likely – still commendable for a two-tonne, 444 horsepower, estate car. CO2 emissions of 219g/km mean annual road tax costs £290.
The impressive fuel consumption figures are the result of the improved start/stop system and the cylinder-on-demand technology. This means that when the S6 Avant is driven at a constant speed on the motorway, only half of the cylinders are working, thus using less fuel. As soon as you need power, the rest of the engine fires up immediately.
The regular A6 Avant scored top marks when it was crash tested for safety back in 2011 and, thanks to its more powerful brakes and four-wheel drive grip, the S6 should be even safer.
It has the usual range of passive and active safety systems such as traction and stability control as well as multiple airbags. Lane-keep assist, automatic city braking and adaptive cruise control cost £3,500 as part of the Technology Pack Advanced, while infrared night vision costs another £1,750.
At a glance the S6 Avant seems fairly well-equipped as standard with cruise control, auto wipers and headlights, keyless entry, plus a Bluetooth and USB connection with iPod controls via the car’s infotainment system. However, much of this equipment now comes fitted to cheap city cars, so Audi could have been a little more generous.
Things go downhill when you look at the prices Audi charges for optional equipment, such as the aforementioned safety equipment or £1,000 for a Bose sound system.
Few will see the merits of a 444hp estate car, but as a proposition for enthusiasts, the S6 Avant is highly commendable – it’s refined, quick and unintimidating. And neither the Mercedes E-Class nor the BMW 5 Series can match its combination of understated looks and ballistic all-weather performance.