New & Used Audi S6: In Depth
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The Audi S6 has been the companion piece to Audi's mainstream, mid-size four-door since the mid-1990s. A competitor for cars like the BMW M5, Jaguar XF-F, and the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG, the S6 has been joined at times by a hotter RS6 edition, in the U.S. and in other markets.
Offered over time as a sedan and as an Avant wagon, the Audi S6 was new to the lineup when the brand changed over all its names to the current format of letter-number. The Audi 100 became the Audi A6, and that car spun off the S6, initially in sedan and wagon form.MORE: See our review of the 2014 Audi A6 and see more specs and photos at our 2014 Audi S6 page
That first S6 sold in the U.S. went on sale in 1995, and slipped off the radar after just one model year. It was powered by a turbocharged in-line five-cylinder engine rated at about 227 horsepower, and teamed with a manual transmission and quattro all-wheel drive. It passed out of the lineup quickly as Audi swapped out the old A6 for a new model with a more distinctive shape. though it didn't get around to offering a new S6 until the 2002 and 2003 model years. This version would be powered by a 4.2-liter V-8 with about 340 horsepower, with a new five-speed automatic at the helm, and standard all-wheel drive--along with new features like stability control, side airbags and a navigation system.
For the third-generation S6, Audi based its body style on the new-for-2005 A6, with its beautiful new shape, its hallmark "tornado" line at the lower sill, and its less conservatively styled interior. Audi's new MMI controller took over the car's GPS, audio and climate functions. But the S6 wouldn't arrive until 2007. It was worth the wait, as the craziest S6 ever bore a Lamborghini-derived V-10 engine, starting in the 2007 model year. The 5.2-liter engine was rated at 425 hp and came only with quattro and a six-speed automatic. It sounded fantastic, even if performance wasn't as mind-blowing as its genealogy implied.
Today's fourth-generation Audi A6 went on sale in the 2012 model year, but the S6 wouldn't return until 2013. While basic sedans came with a choice of four- and six-cylinder engines, the S6 sports a new twin-turbo 4.0 TFSI V-8 engine. It's rated at 420 horsepower and is capable of 0-60 mph runs of less than 4.8 seconds. The S6 gets additional performance improvements like a sport differential, sport-tuned adaptive air suspension, and a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission--plus appearance changes like a four-outlet exhaust, special wheels, and two additional, exclusive 'S' colors: Estoril Blue and Prism Silver. Like the A6, the S6 also offers beautifully rendered navigation mapping via Google Earth mapping, and in-car wireless Internet, under the Audi Connect banner.
The current S6 shares the A6's Top Safety Pick rating from the IIHS, but the federal government has not assigned any crash-test scores as of yet.