2017 Audi S6 Review: Devour freeways without breaking a sweat
– Detroit, MIchigan
My colleague Steve is correct that the Audi RS7 is face-meltingly good, an incredible demonstration of all the four-ringed brand’s best performance-car knowledge. Yet I submit that using it for my daily commute is like using a nail gun to assemble Ikea furniture: excessive and, perhaps, dangerous. Don’t get me wrong, I love horsepower and adore the RS7, but it’s worth remembering that another fast Audi, the S6, remains one of the benchmarks for the fast, luxurious uber-sedan.
Smooth, powerful V8. Oh, sure, it’s down a Mazda Miata’s-worth of horsepower compared to that RS7, but the S6 is no slouch. Its engine’s twin turbochargers wake up early to deliver a huge wave of torque (from just 1,400 rpm) that you can ride right up to redline. The seven-speed dual-clutch transmission snaps of upshifts quicker than you can blink. The powertrain rockets the S6 through every gap in traffic and away from every stop with an ease that belies its rapidness – like, 60 miles per hour in 4.4 seconds rapid. It’s a great step up from the acceleration offered by the A6 3.0T Competition I drove last year.
Great chassis composure. The specially tuned air suspension has huge bandwidth between its Comfort and Dynamic settings. You’ll swear every road is pothole-free in the former mode; you’ll be sure you’re in a smaller, lighter sports car from the handling poise the S6 exhibits in Dynamic. Nothing unsettles this car, no matter how hard or sloppily you drive. Mid-corner adjustments and bumps go unnoticed, never perturbing the car’s planted cornering demeanor.
In fact, it’s civilized in every respect. Drive it around in Comfort mode and you’d never suspect the S6 is a car that has to be electronically restrained to “just” 250 km/h. The way the car settles down into a quiet, plush highway cruiser, yet can still attack curves, shows a breadth of ability not all its competition can muster. There’s really no downside to this car. Where some fast executive sedans are aggressive at all times, the S6 is as happy playing chauffeur as pretending it’s an extra in Ronin.
Well-chosen upgrades from a standard A6. Inside and out, the S6 receives just the right types of upgrades to distinguish it from a regular A6 without turning it into a hot-rod eyesore. From outside, revel in the enlarged air intakes, the enormous S6-branded brake calipers, the pretty quartet of chrome exhaust tips, and the subtly integrated trunklid spoiler. Inside, admire the red diamond-stitched leather seats; the aluminum pedals, paddles, and buttons that contrast against their black plastic surrounds; and the three-spoke wheel wouldn’t feel out of place in a TT or R8.
Where’s the steering feel? The S6 has the same steering ratio as other A6 models, and it unfortunately doesn’t offer any more involvement through the wheel than those cars. Quick and direct, the S6’s steering will never let you down, but it also fails to telegraph any real information about the road or tire loading from up front. The upshot: the light, fast rack does make quick work of parking maneuvers.
Soft initial brake feel. Let me be clear: the S6 has phenomenal braking performance. It scrubs speed handily thanks to front discs that measure 398.7 millimeters in diameter, and will do it time and time and time again without complaint. Instead my criticism is that the brakes don’t provide a great sense of feedback or performance from the left pedal. A half-inch or so of dead space makes it easy to drive smoothly in traffic, but no matter how deep I get into the brake pedal, I wish for a little more of the firmness that I find so reassuring in rival performance cars.
Photos: Jake Holmes / Motor1.com