Performance sedans, for the most part, are an endangered species. I’m not talking about approachable sporty players like the BMW 3 Series or Genesis G70; I’m talking dedicated performance cars, stuff you find with AMG, V-Series or M badges. Don’t get me wrong, we love that they exist, but most people aren’t enthusiasts, and the sales of these things are getting harder to justify, especially mid-range models that aren’t aimed at the most hardcore buyers. That’s why we’re here, to enjoy these cars while they still exist, and a prime example is Audi’s fantastic S6.
Full Disclosure: Wanting something nice to drive when my mom came down to visit, I reached out to Audi who happily dropped off an S6 with a full tank of gas. Mom and I were zoomin’ everywhere we went, and I enjoyed every minute of it.
There’s a duality to the S6. When you’re not speeding off from every stoplight, the S6 is a fine luxury sedan. It’s so sedate and quiet that it would make uninformed passengers wonder why you’d buy it over the more expensive S8, or question if it’s even an S model at all. Put the adjustable suspension in Comfort mode and the S6 absorbs road imperfections with ease. Audi continues to make excellent interiors and the S6 is no different. Everything looks and feels high-quality, and combine that with features like soft multi-color ambient lighting and cushy heated sports seats and the S6 is comfortable enough to be sleep-inducing.
That all changes when you put the S6 into Dynamic mode — everything gets angry, in a good way. The suspension stiffens up, the exhaust’s flaps open, the powertrain’s responsiveness increases, and the S6 morphs into a car that you want to toss into a corner. It handles like something half its size, with the Quattro system giving an additional layer of confidence. That doesn’t mean be stupid, though. My S6 is equipped with the $4,000 S Sport pack, which addsh rear-wheel steering and a sport rear differential that really makes a difference, especially in cornering. But push too hard and the S6 will remind you that it still weighs 4,486 pounds.
The move to a turbocharged V6 means the S6 won’t hurt your wallet as bad at the pump, but it’s no fuel miser. The S6 is EPA rated for 18 mpg city/28 mpg highway/22 mpg combined. I average just over 22 mpg in a mix of driving, though I see it could drop to 17 mpg in continuous hard driving.
Not everything about the S6 is rosy, though. The MMI infotainment system looks and runs great most of the time, but I encounter hiccups often, especially with a wired Apple CarPlay connection. It would also be nice to have some actual physical controls; essentially everything is controlled through the pair of central screens, even simple things like turning on the heated seats. There’s also too much black piano trim inside. Aside from attracting dust and fingerprints, it looks cheap in some areas, especially in places where it runs across the dash. And the styling is too sedate for my tastes; I like a sleeper just as much as the next person, but aside from unique wheels, black trim and quad exhausts, nothing about the design really screams performance sedan.
Lastly, the price is steep, and that mostly has to do with Audi bundling features that should be standard in pricey packages. Want things like adaptive cruise control, side and rear traffic sensing and a head-up display? Audi makes you drop another $8k on a package to get them, even though it also comes with other things you may not want. At this price point, nickel and diming buyers with expensive packages feels plain greedy.
The 2023 S6 starts at $74,795 (including destination) for the base Premium trim, but my test car is the top-end Prestige trim, which costs $8,800 more. With added-on features like $595 Aviator Grey paint, the aforementioned S Sport Package, a $2,500 Design Edition package and $475 Audi-branded puddle lights, my S6 stickers for a not-cheap $91,165.
Still, the Audi S6 is a gem. In a segment that always seems like it’s on its last legs, the S6 is one of the best offerings despite the steep price. If you have the means, go try out an S6. You won’t regret it.
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