The S6 is a performance version of Audi's A6 midsize luxury car. It's available only as a 4-door sedan with Quattro all-wheel drive and is designed to compete with the BMW M5, Cadillac CTS-V and Mercedes-Benz E43 AMG. Sole changes to the S6 for 2017 include integration of Apple Car Play and Android Auto to the infotainment system.
Two trim levels are offered Premium Plus and Prestige. Both are powered by a turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 that produces 450 horsepower and drives a seven-speed automatic transmission. The Quattro all-wheel-drive system does not have a low range and is not intended for off-road use.
Prices start $70,900 for the Premium Plus and climb to $74,100 for the Prestige. Key options include night-vision, 15-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system and driver-assistance package that includes adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist and forward-collision warning and mitigation. Also offered is a Sport package that adds dynamic steering, torque-vectoring rear differential and sport exhaust.
The turbocharged V8 provides ample acceleration, pushing the S6 from 0 to 60 mph in a scant 4.1 seconds. That's on par with key competitors. More important is the way the engine provides instant thrust at any speed as compared to the hot-cold power delivery in some competitors. The seven-speed automatic shifts smoothly in normal operation and downshifts promptly in passing situations. Occasionally, the transmission hunts between gears when slogging in stop-and-go traffic.
The S6 is EPA rated at 18 mpg city and 27 mpg highway -- remarkable numbers for a sedan this size with sports-car acceleration potential. Unfortunately, Audi requires premium-grade gasoline in the S6. In routine suburban commuting, most are likely to average about 24 mpg overall, but if you throw in some gentle highway cruising, you can push that number to nearly 28 mpg, impressive indeed.
With standard electronic air suspension, the S6 offers a terrific blend of athleticism and ride comfort. Throw in grippy tires and sure-footed all-wheel drive and you have the right ingredients to create the ideal performance-luxury sedan. On a race track, the BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Cadillac competitors might be slightly quicker, but in the real world, where potholes, expansion joints and pavement ruts temper enthusiast driving, the S6 shines, providing a comfortable ride and extremely capable chassis.
Though a trifle noisier than a typical luxury sedan thanks to its aggressive tires, the S6 provides a serene highway ride and the turbo V8 has a glorious throat in hard acceleration.
The Audi S6 offers a sumptuous interior that's awash in high-quality materials and modern design elements. Unfortunately, the instrument cluster isn't as advanced as those offered on newer Audi products like the A4. Still, luxury touches abound that there's little doubt that you are stepping into something special when you climb aboard. Audi's infotainment system uses a jog dial rather than a touch screen. It's less user-friendly and certainly takes some familiarization. Adding Android Auto and Apple Car Play is a great plus.
Front seats are heavily bolstered and are somewhat confining. On the flip side, they provide unparalleled support, holding occupants in place on twisty roads. Front-seat leg room is tremendous and head room good. Back-seat passengers are treated with first-class appointments but taller riders might want a bit more leg room.
Cargo space is a tight 14 cubic feet and that's below average for the segment. Thankfully the trunk opening is wide with a flat floor. Folding rear seatbacks add to cargo hauling versatility. Interior storage is subpar with just a few open and covered bins throughout.
The Audi S6 is the perfect choice for those wanting a premium sport sedan that can tackle Chicago's four seasons. It's quick, comfortable, comes standard with all-wheel drive and is loaded with tech and safety features. Acceptable fuel economy ratings are a bonus. Shortcomings are limited a smallish trunk, optional instead of standard safety features and steep price tag -- when compared to the standard A6.