2016 Audi S6 and S7 review: Where power meets refinement

Abigail Bassett
2016 Audi S6 and S7 review: Where power meets refinement

The Audi A6’s design has been subtle and understated ever since the current generation first rolled off the line in 2012. The new updates to the 2016 S6 and S7 take that design and make the duo appear meaner than ever before. And also faster.
The S6’s details are new from the hood forward. A reworked LED headlight design, a new bumper and a more pointed “Singleframe” grill give the S6 and S7 a more purposeful stance. The wheel wells are deep and defined and black high-gloss trim around the windows makes the car look aggressive. The S line also gives you a chrome lower fascia at the front and quad exhaust pipes at the rear.
Those rumbling pipes don’t necessarily mean you’ll be burning more fuel, however. While U.S. EPA ratings haven’t been released, assume that the new S6 and S7 will be slightly more fuel efficient than previous generations as a result of a new cylinder-on-demand engine design; when appropriate, like on the highway or in stop-start traffic, only four of the eight cylinders are activated.
But when you want it, more than enough power surfaces. The 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 puts out 450 hp (up 30) and 406 lb.-ft. of torque. According to Audi that pushes the S6 from 0-62 mph in just 4.4 seconds—faster than a base Porsche 911.  Top speed is electronically limited to 155 mph, and power is delivered through Audi’s all-wheel drive Quattro system. A dual-clutch seven-speed S tronic transmission marries the two together.
On the road, you can feel the weight of the big V8 hanging off the nose of the car. Steering in both the S6 and S7 is direct and responsive and visibility throughout the cabins are great, especially considering their size when compared to the German streets we were driving on. Adaptive air suspension comes standard on the S6 and S7, and there’s surefootedness with both machines. Push either through a corner and the rear tires feel planted, even on slightly damp, narrow, Black Forest roads. You can choose to stay in fully automatic mode, or if you are feeling particularly lively, use the steering wheel-mounted paddles.
The cars are rocketships on the Autobahn. Both the S6 and S7 feel firmly in control, quiet and calm – as if they’re taking grandma out for leisurely picnic.  Just one word of warning: watch that heads up display. These cars like to motor, and you’ll find yourself at jumpsuit-worthy speed in an instance. Fortunately we were in Germany.
There’s a great guttural exhaust note when you first start up the V-8. It’s soon dampened by an Active Noise Cancellation sound that’s piped through the stereo. Yes, for the purists out there, that means it’s canned sound. Regardless, passersby still look up from their schnitzel as the car rumbles by. Both versions of the S6 and the S7 that we drove had the optional Bang & Olufsen upgraded stereo. The system is hugely impressive, with 1,400 watts of output and two tweeters that rise out of the dash. Audi is one of the few automakers that use all B&O components—right down to the subwoofer that takes up a small footprint of space in the trunk.  To get it, though, it’ll cost you around $6,000.
Along with this upgrade, the S6 and S7 are available with Audi’s highly intuitive MMI system.  You can use the touch pad or scroll the wheel to write a street address, search locations via photos, control the suspension settings and even the ambient lighting; you can also search for the latest news or check Twitter or Facebook. If you are driving through a dark area at night, turn on the optional night vision to see large animals or pedestrians in your path. The MMI infotainment system uses a highly advanced computer chip along with a 3D graphics program that can handle eight billion computations per second.
For those of you interested in customizing your S6 or S7 further, there are a few exclusive S line colors: Daytona grey, Sepang blue, and Salsa red. You can get the interior design selection as well, and all-in, the package will add around $10,000 to your bottom line. According to Audi, most S line buyers purchase this option, despite the additional cost.
One other note: For those of you hoping that unicorn – the magic S6 Avant – will make its way to American shores, keep wishing. These are the closest we’ll get – the good looking, quick and well appointed, albeit less-wagony, relatives.  
American market pricing for the new 2016 S6 and S7 hasn’t yet been released, but Audi says that it will cost right around the same as the current models, so figure $75,500 and $82,500 respectively. The question, however, will be: Is the 115-plus-horsepower upgrade over the $44,800 A6 3.0 really worth the additional Deutsch geld? If you live near the Autobahn, the answer has to be yes.

Click for more images of 2016 Audi S6 (top) and S7 (bottom right)
Click for more images of 2016 Audi S6 (top) and S7 (bottom right)