|Positives: Blistering acceleration and power, gobs of traction, great infotainment system and controls, nutty awesome red carbon fiber trim, diamond-stitched seats befitting a Bentley, low key to avoid law enforcement|
|Negatives: Perhaps a bit too low key for the high asking price, throttle response is initially a bit dead, welcomes the lead foot all too often|
|Bottom Line: A German super sedan that's every bit as safe and solid as it is shockingly quick. If it's a high-performance European family car you want without looking like a total snob, this is the car for you.|
The S6 is a bit of a contradiction. It looks subtle but moves like a wheeled hellion. It boasts 450 booming horses and 406 lb-ft of torque but sometimes sounds so muted that you wonder if it just wants YOU to feel the speed rather than for others to behold it. Whatever the case, the S6 is a thrill to drive when you feel it from the seat of your pants, if not garnering delights in the aural department.
Ride Quality: Neither jarring nor cushy, the S6's air suspension delivers a great balance between the two. It's like a super sedan for 45 year olds.
Acceleration: Though the initial throttle response was a bit lagging, the car thrusts you forward like a rocket sled. It's been clocked to 60 mph in less than four seconds, and that's rightfully quick. The smooth rev-matching from the transmission is flawless.
Braking: Good, progressive brakes that stopped the S6 with authority. No deadness, no grabbiness and good modulation.
Steering: We wouldn't call the S6's steering razor sharp, but the quick turn in is evident. It's on center and accurate.
Handling: There's a bit of understeer due to the heavier front end, but it's all very manageable. Point, turn in and hit the apex. No issues here, even for a 4,400 pound car.
Audi infotainment tech has its own unique look and feel that Audi has done especially well of late. Everything looks beautiful to the eye and commensurate with the asking price and badge of the car (unlike Lexus). Audi upped the standard tech as of 2016 to include 4G LTE data streaming, INRIX online traffic information, Apple Siri Eyes Free integration, and internet-radio streaming.
Infotainment System: Audi's screens are very legible in bright sunlight and have the best font in the industry, making it not only easy to read but also pleasing to the eye. Menus are simple to navigate, too.
Controls: The MMI infotainment controls are some of the best we've used. The aluminum knob actuates well, and the touchpad and buttons all work seamlessly.
Bluetooth Pairing: Though there was some initial struggles with pairing, re-pairing upon entry was easy.
Voice Call Quality: Great quality on both sides of the call. Clear and easy to transmit.
We find the S6 a handsome car but still virtually undistinguishable from the regular A6. Only the badging and quad exhaust outlets give it away (okay, the interior is way nicer), but to the average bystander, it's not "special" in its aesthetic the way the BMW M5 and E63 AMG are. But that's okay because that means the fuzz just might overlook it just when you need it most.
Front: Crisp and clean but a bit unassuming. We wish it was as dramatic as the last S8 maw.
Rear: Again, not overstyled and actually a bit on the conservative side. Thank god for those big quad pipes.
Profile: Not much to write home about here. Well-proportioned and handsome but not dramatic. The only chrome trim is on the window surrounds. At least those satin-metal finish side mirrors are there to show others you've paid a lot for this ride.
Cabin: The styling is Teutonically clean but with the right amount of opulence in the rich red carbon fiber (yes, real) and the beautiful diamond-stitched red seats that oddly look like Patrick from SpongeBob.
The S6 was one of our favorite cabins so far this model year. Front seat occupants have plenty of leg, head and shoulder room, and the view is fantastic. Everything you touch inside the S6 feels rich and solid. Materials are of excellent quality, and nothing feels out of place. It's like a sophisticated but reserved rollling modern boardroom.
Front Seats: Excellent bolstering and support from the richly appointed seats. The look of them is inviting, and the experience doesn't disappoint.
Rear Seats: A bit cramped in the leg area for taller passengers, but the contouring and feel are excellent.
NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): Solid as a bank vault and quiet, too. You can barely hear the rumble of the powerful V8.
Visibility: Good visibility all around. It's easy to place the S6 where you want it to go. Rearward visibility is also good.
Climate: The S6's heat fired up quickly, as did the heated seats. A great place in which to spend a chilly Chicago winter day.
The S6 wasn't specifically tested by the IIHS, but the A6 on which its based was, and it nailed top marks. The car also comes with excellent safety features to reassure you that you'll be protected before and after an accident, but you have to pay extra for most of them.
IIHS Rating: The 2016 A6 received the IIHS's Top Safety Pick+ rating, its highest. The A6 achieved "Good" in all of its safety tests, including the moderate and small-overlap frontal crash tests, the side-impact crash test and the roof-strength test. The A6's seat and head restraint design was also rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
Standard Tech: Adaptive frontal airbags, SIDEGUARD inflatable curtain airbags, Parking system with rearview camera.
Optional Tech: The Driver Assistance Package that came with our tester had Audi adaptive cruise control, Audi active lane assist, top view camera system, high beam assistant. It also comes with the brilliant Audi Pre Sense Plus system that mitigates the potential effects of an accident by first detecting it with video and radar and then preparing for it by tensioning the seat belts and closing the windows and sunroof. It also will move the seats to the safest position, inflate the side bolsters and increase braking forces.
No one buys an S6 because of the storage space, but folks to buy sports sedans because overall they're far more pragmatic than a fast coupe. The S6 has good storage options for a car its size, and the trunk room, though not huge, is more than enough to get you through a packed weekend trip for two.
Storage Space: Ergonomically well thought out with twin cupholders in front of the armrest and a nice retractable door cubby at the base of the center stack. Door pockets aren't deep, but they're still plenty useful for everyday items.
Cargo Room: The S6 has 14.1 cubic feet trunk room, not the biggest in its class, and the opening is a bit on the narrow side. At least the rear seats fold down.
The S6 actually gets a really high EPA mileage estimate for a car with this much power. 18 city and 27 highway seem almost unrealistic, but there it is printed on the window sticker for all to see and disbelieve.
Observed: 16.7 mpg in combined highway and local driving.
Driving Factors: There's no way in hell we were going to hit either EPA number. This car begs to be driven fast, and it's actually deceptively quick. We drove it in Dynamic (sport) model the entire time. We have no doubt more conservative owners could attain far better mileage.
The Bose premium audio system was fantastic, but we didn't listen to it all that much because we were straining to hear the low roar of the turbocharged V8. The sound was crisp and clear with plenty of fullness and ample bass without distortion.