The lowest-rung - if you can call it that - of Audi's fresh crop of wholly redesigned S models has arrived in the form of a heavily redesigned S6 Sedan that boasts a de-tuned version of the same 4.0-liter TFSI engine found under the hood of the larger S8.
Though based on the more plebeian A6 sedan, the S6 is a true performance machine thanks to a new twin-turbo 4.0-liter TFSI V8 that returns 420 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque from 1,300 to 5,300 rpm. This motor is good for a 4.8 second zero-to-60 sprint time in the sedan.
Like the more powerful versions of the 4.0-liter TFSI, the S6′s engine also brings efficiency to the table thanks to several fuel-saving technologies including "cylinder on demand," a recuperation and a start-stop system. Cylinder on demand works under part load by deactivating four of the eight cylinders for an efficiency gain that is particularly pronounced at moderate highway speeds.
A package of acoustic measures including the Active Noise Cancellation system suppresses possible intrusive noise and vibrations that result from the use of only four cylinders.
Unlike the S8, which uses a conventional eight-speed automatic, the S6 gets a quick-shifting seven-speed dual clutch transmission. Of course, the S6 also comes with quattro permanent all-wheel drive and a self-locking center differential with torque vectoring. There is also an optional sport differential that actively distributes power between the rear wheels.
Like the larger S8, the S6 Sedan comes standard with an adaptive air sport-tuned suspension, but only features a modest 0.39-inch drop. This suspension, although lacking in the range of height adjustability found on the S8, still allows the driver to switch between more comfort-minded and more sporty driving dynamics with five different modes.
Wheels arrive in the form of standard 19X8.5-inch cast aluminum wheels with a unique five-spoke design, wrapped in 255/40/R20 tires. There are also seven 19- and 20-inch optional wheel designs, four of which are from quattro GmbH.
Body and design
Although the S8′s body was made almost exclusively of aluminum to help shed over 200 lbs, the S6 sees only about 20 percent aluminum use in its body, putting its total weight only about 300 lbs lower than the much larger S8, with a total weight of 4,177 lbs for the sedan. Still, Audi says this is much lighter than competitors within its segment.
The S6 Sedan front fascia receives a single-frame grille with chromed horizontal double bars. There is also an accent chrome strip on the front bumper, while the styling points for the side profile include an aluminum-look housing for the side mirrors and distinctly shaped side sills.
In the rear, the S6 Sedan features a trunk-mounted spoiler, a platinum gray rear diffuser with an aluminum-look offset edge and four chrome-tipped tailpipes which are elliptical.
The S6 is available in eight possible colors, including Estoril Blue, Crystal Effect and Prism Silver, which are exclusive to the S6.
While not as over-top-top luxurious as the S8, the S6 is nonetheless adorned with high-quality luxury materials throughout, providing what Audi calls a "sporty elegance." Leather can be found throughout, including on the steering wheel. Aluminum-styled accents are plentiful, including on the paddle shifters, peddles and instruments.
The S6 also features illuminated logos in the door sills and the Audi MMI system with unique S6 logos on the screens. Audi says decorative inlays can be had in four different materials with matte brushed aluminum as standard, while carbon fiber, fine grain ash natural brown and layered Beaufort oak are optional.
Likewise, leather can be had in multiple colors: black, lunar silver and goa beige. The standard seats are height-adjustable, sporty in their design and come with lumbar support. There are also two optional seat styles: power-adjustable comfort seats with memory function and the power-adjustable S sport seats with integrated head restraints.
Technology and features
Standard technology and features are impressive in the S6 Sedan, starting with xenon plus headlights with an all-weather light, LED rear lights, an electromechanical parking brake and the driver information system with color display. The MMI radio also includes a Bluetooth interface, while the car's standard Audi sound system has 10 speakers - just to name a few.
Optional tech for the S6 is the same as the other A6 models (aside from the improved standard feature set), including: LED headlights, adaptive lights, the ambient lighting package, convenience key, head-up display, the parking system plus with 360-degree camera, power rear hatch (optionally with sensor control) and climate-controlled deluxe seats with massage function.
Topping the range of infotainment systems in the S6 is MMI navigation plus, which features a large hard drive, an eight-inch monitor and the MMI touch input system. The system can be combined with the Bluetooth online car phone, which brings special Internet services to the car and features WLAN connectivity for mobile devices.
The 15-speaker Bang & Olufsen Advanced Sound System is available for those with more discerning ears.
As with other Audi "S" models, the S6 is aimed at the gap between the base-engine and performance models of competing brands. As such, the Audi is aimed at the traditionally-styled, luxury-oriented Mercedes-Benz E550, the well-equipped Infiniti M56 and the BMW 550i, which offers enthusiasts the class-exclusive option of a true manual gearbox.