The revised Audi S6 is a very competent, fast car – but ultimately it just lacks the fun you’d expect if you made the bold decision to opt for £58k of petrol V8.
Andrew Brady | October 2014
The Audi S6 lives in the shadow of its more powerful, more garish big brother, the Audi RS6. But, as the rest of the A6 range has been revised, so has the S6. It now offers an extra 30hp from its 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 TFSI petrol engine while returning a not-outrageous 30.7mpg in the saloon (30.1mpg in the estate) – an improvement of around 4% thanks largely to tweaked cylinder-deactivation technology.
The 450hp it now produces is equal to the 4.2-litre RS6 from 2002, but 110hp less than the latest stonkingly quick A6 range-topper.
So, on paper at least, the S6 is more than adequate for the majority of drivers. But will a drive leave us convinced that the S6 is the perfect combination of performance and efficiency, or wondering why anyone buys a fast Audi?
What’s the 2015 Audi S6 like to drive?
Combine that power with a seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch gearbox and Audi’s legendary Quattro all-wheel drive system, and this is an awesome car to make real-world progress in.
As standard, the S6 comes with a sports differential, splitting torque between the rear wheels and helping push the car through bends at an impressive rate for what is, it’s easy to forget, a pretty big car.
Chances are, it’ll be your confidence that sees you backing off in bends before the car starts to play, as there is a distinct lack of feel through the steering wheel. Bumpy roads may also slow you down as the adaptive air suspension, while generally offering a smooth ride, can be caught out by unexpected potholes and bumps.
The Audi S6 does have a party trick, however. In the depths of the infotainment system’s sub menus, there’s an option for ‘car’, which tweaks the whole driving experience – including the engine, transmission, differential, steering and even noise. We found the S6 at its best in auto mode – ‘dynamic’ makes it too firm and overly aggressive in its set up, while dialling it down to ‘efficiency’ makes the steering light and the throttle irritatingly slow to react.
What else is new on the 2015 Audi S6?
Apart from more performance and more economy, like the rest of the A6 range the S6 has received some minor updates. The headlights are now all-LED with a slimmer design, making the new S6 look even more aggressive when it appears in your rear view mirror.
If you’re buying an S6 because you want to outdo a neighbour with the pre-facelift model, you better not stick a private plate on it just yet. Apart from the headlights and tweaked front and rear bumpers, the design is broadly the same as before – but when it looks as sharp as this, is that a problem?
Inside, the new four-zone deluxe electronic climate control will convince your other half that you’ve bought a new S6 for sensible, luxury family runabout reasons. Acoustic glazing will do its best to drown out the lovely V8 burble, but it’s still there in a not-intrusive yet addictive way.
The interior is as you’d expect for £56,000 worth of Audi. The 2.9m long wheelbase means there’s plenty of space inside, and the standard ‘S Super Sports’ seats add a much-needed touch of sportiness. The problem is, apart from the seats and a neat carbon inlay, the interior of the S6 is pretty much regular Audi A6. You could be sitting in a high-spec diesel.
MR verdict: Audi S6 (2015)
At £56,000, it takes a brave person to buy an Audi powered by a petrol V8 engine – even if it is capable of more than 30mpg. While the idea of driving something fast but understated is tempting, if we were to spend that kind of cash we’d hit the classifieds or sell some body parts for the full shebang that is the RS6. Prices for the latest model are yet to be confirmed, but expect it to be nudging £80,000.
Ultimately, the S6 just lacks the drama you’d want after blowing a heap of cash on a powerful V8 super saloon.
If it’s understated you’re after then there is, dare we say it, an alternative – and it’s diesel powered. On the launch of the revised A6 range (including S6) we sampled Audi’s 320hp biTDI diesel and were staggered by the performance, torque, and even the sound.
Combine a price tag that starts at £46,125 with 47.1mpg and the same eight-speed tiptronic gearbox as the RS6 and… well, we see little compelling reason to opt for the S6.
Rivals: Audi S6 (2015)
- BMW 550i
- Jaguar XFR
- Maserati Ghibli S
- Vauxhall VXR8 GTS
The BMW 550i M Sport is the most obvious rival to the S6. For £1,910 more than the S6, you get an extra 0.4-litres of displacement and a smattering more torque. It’s 0.2 seconds slower to 62mph, but slightly more efficient. Both get a premium badge and neither will be a bad choice if you can justify a big, petrol V8. The Jaguar XFR is lairier than the S6, and more expensive, but offers an extra 60hp. The Maserati Ghibli S might feel a bit more exclusive than the S6, but you’d really have to want an Italian badge to justify spending nearly £64,000 on a car with just 410hp. The Vauxhall VXR8 GTS offers stonking value compared to the S6, packing 585hp for £54,499. Be prepared to lose it all, however – it just won’t have the same residual values as the Audi.
Specification: Audi S6 (2015)
Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 TFSI
Gearbox: seven-speed S tronic
Price from: £56,000
Torque: 406lb ft
0-62mph: 4.4 seconds
Top speed: 155mph