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2015 Audi S6: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader October 2014

We've driven plenty of high-performance models that were based on subpar mainstream products, and that's usually a recipe for disappointment. However, the 2015 Audi S6 is based on the regular A6 sedan, which is already an excellent sport sedan in its own right. So how can you go wrong?

Well, surely, there are ways, but Audi has avoided them with the S6. It all starts under the hood, where a 420-horsepower twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 delivers astounding acceleration. It also has remarkably nimble handling, an exquisitely crafted interior and some of the coolest technology on the market. If you're looking for a midsize luxury sedan that can more or less do it all, the S6 is one of just a few cars in the world that we consider a safe bet.

What's New for 2015?

The 2015 S6 gets a couple new standard features, including LED headlights and a head-up display.

What We Like

Seductive mix of force and refinement; genuinely entertaining handling; all the luxury and technology of a regular A6; good fuel economy

What We Don't

Doesn't come cheap; lacks the straight-line power of the BMW M5 and Mercedes E63 AMG

How Much?

$76,425

Fuel Economy

The all-wheel drive S6 sports a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 rated at 420 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque. The transmission is a 7-speed dual-clutch automated manual. Fuel economy is remarkably good for this level of performance, rated at 17 miles per gallon in the city and 27 mpg on the highway by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Standard Features & Options

The 2015 Audi S6 is only offered in the well-equipped Prestige ($76,425) trim level. It comes with 19- or 20-inch alloy wheels, quad exhaust tips, LED headlights and taillights, an adjustable air suspension, a sport rear differential, a sunroof, a head-up display, a blind spot monitoring system, Audi's Drive Select system (featuring electronic adjustments for steering, throttle and transmission) and Multi Media Interface (MMI), leather upholstery, a sport steering wheel with shift paddles, power sport seats with diamond stitching, a Google Earth-based navigation system, Wi-Fi hotspot capability and a Bose audio system.

Options include multicontour front seats, night-vision assist, a top-view parking camera, massaging front seats, a Bang & Olufsen audio system and an ominous-looking Black Optic appearance package.

The S6's cabin is beautifully constructed, with high-quality materials everywhere you look and touch. The basic design is carried over from the A6, of course, but the S6 adds numerous S-specific touches, such as a unique instrument cluster and S6 badging on the steering wheel. We love the sport seats, as they provide that robust lateral support that the A6's standard seats lack. The back seat's bottom cushion is rather low by midsize luxury-sedan standards, but most folks should still be able to get comfortable back there.

In terms of technology, the S6 has it all, from the standard iPod/Bluetooth integration and Wi-Fi hotspot function, to the warm-sounding Bose stereo (though the optional Bang & Olufsen setup is exceptional). Your passengers will undoubtedly be impressed by the crisp, colorful MMI screen, which displays vivid Google Earth images in navigation mode and automatically retracts into the dash when not in use. There's even a touch pad on the center console that can recognize the commands you scrawl on it with your finger.

Trunk capacity is on the small side for this segment at 14.1 cu ft.

Safety

The 2015 Audi S6 comes with standard stability control, 4-wheel anti-lock ventilated disc brakes and a blind spot monitoring system. Eight airbags are located throughout the cabin (front, front-side, front-knee, full-length side-curtain), with rear-side airbags offered as an option. Also optional are lane-keeping assist and Audi's pre sense plus collision mitigation system with automatic braking.

The government has crash-tested the S6's mainstream sibling, the A6, awarding a top 5-star rating for both front and side impacts. Similarly, the independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the A6 its top rating of "Good" in every category.

Behind the Wheel

It's hard to overstate the excellence of the S6's twin-turbo drivetrain. Acceleration feels impossibly swift and smooth, while the dual-clutch transmission delivers quick yet seamless shifts. Although the previous S6 enjoys bragging rights on paper with its 435-hp Lamborghini V10, the 2015 S6 is actually faster, so the only thing missing is the V10's spine-tingling wail.

Audi likes to talk about all the S6's aluminum parts, but the midsize sedan still weighs well over two tons, which makes its athleticism all the more impressive. Unlike the BMW 550i, or even the M5, the S6 feels light on its feet, and the responsive, precise steering offers confidence in all situations. If you're really driving with enthusiasm, you can feel the rear-biased quattro all-wheel drive working with the standard sport rear differential to keep power and grip in sync.

Indeed, the S6 drives remarkably like the sporty S4, despite being considerably larger and heavier. Naturally, there's a trade-off here: The S6's ride is on the firm side, even with Drive Select set to "Comfort." If you want a car that's going to pound highways into submission, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class may be a better car for you. But if nimble cornering is a priority, the S6 is as good as it gets in this segment.

Other Cars to Consider

BMW 550i / M5 -- The S6 is a natural rival to the 550i, but there's something more special about the S6 that makes it a compelling M5 alternative, too.

Mercedes-Benz E550 / E63 AMG -- Similarly, the S6 seems more exclusive than the E550, but of course it's no match for the E63 AMG's massive power. Nonetheless, the S6's well-rounded skill set makes it an interesting lower-priced E63 substitute.

Porsche Panamera -- We think the S6 is the prettier car, but nothing with four doors drives as well as the otherworldly Panamera.

Used Audi S8 -- As the top performance version of the top-dog A8 sedan, the S8 is even faster and more exclusive than the S6, and it's bigger inside, too. A certified pre-owned S8 could be in the same ballpark price-wise as a new S6.

AutoTrader's Advice

The S6 comes fully-loaded, so the only question is whether you like it more than its rivals. We're not sure which one we'd choose, but there's no doubt about it, the S6 is an incredible all-around package.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2015 Audi S6: New Car Review - Autotrader