2008 Audi S6 Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
July 2, 2008

The 2008 Audi S6 offers driving thrills that few sedans can match -- and a V-10 heart that would be right at home in a Lamborghini.

TheCarConnection.com’s editors read the latest reviews on the new 2008 Audi S6 to write this comprehensive review. Our car experts also drove the 2008 Audi S6 in Germany and in the United States, to be able to deliver our definitive opinion on the car, to compare it with other cars in the class and to help you decide which reviews to trust.

The 2008 Audi S6 is a Frankenstein car, in the best sense of the word. Its capable chassis mates a V-10 engine bred for Lamborghinis with the hallmark of Audi cars past and present, quattro all-wheel drive.

The Audi S6 spits out 435 horsepower through a six-speed automatic transmission and pushes it to all four wheels through the quattro system. There's no manual transmission available, but the hard-edged engine and the sport-tuned suspension will give drivers plenty to play with, regardless. There's even a "sport" mode in the automatic that holds gears at redline, for the true racer, so you can hear that glorious, throaty, muffled roar.

Transmission, steering, chassis, and brakes are appropriately upgraded for such prodigious power. The steering is perfectly weighted and responsive, the brakes powerful and sure, the ride motions beautifully damped as the big tires grip, the suspension takes a set, and your thumbs call up exactly the right gear to power through each corner, whether slow, fast, or ruggedly rough.

Review continues below

The 2008 Audi S6 bears the lines of the lesser A6 sedans, down to the wide-mouth grille, which we think takes away from its dramatic silhouette--but the lower ride height and details give it a more menacing look. The interior's typically Audi, with fine function, but it's not as appealing as the dash in older Audis--and in the S6, it wears a shiny carbon-fiber trim that's not very rich-looking. Audi's Multi-Media Interface (MMI) system controls most major and lesser functions. We prefer individual switches and buttons, however many it takes, but find MMI less annoying and more user-friendly then BMW's infernal iDrive.

Elsewhere, the S6 wears fine leather and gray birch trim. A Bose Surround Sound audio system with a glove-box-mounted six-disc CD changer is standard, along with Bluetooth and Sirius Satellite Radio.

8

2008 Audi S6

Styling

The 2008 Audi S6 is more elegant than extroverted; inside, it’s a little less appealing than expected.

Beautifully crafted, the 2008 Audi S6 has a style that just about anyone can appreciate. TheCarConnection.com finds it is understated, yet elegant and luxurious: a worthy combination.

Edmunds calls the Audi S6 "a fine machine" but laments its small size in comparison to "its prime competitors, the BMW M5 and the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG." Even so, the design of the 2008 Audi S6 is not intimidating or outlandish, says MyRide.com. The car's appearance is "elegantly understated," according to Autoblog, noting the Audi 2008 has a "supremely athletic presence." For instance, "the eye-catching single-frame grille displays the S6 emblem, and its vertical aluminum-look struts are of a double design by way of further differentiation." MyRide.com also notes more badges and body elements than previous years. There are even 10 horizontally positioned LED lights that distinguish the Audi S6 from other cars on the road. For those seeking "an additional sporty highlight," the "spoiler lip" at the front of the car should be the finishing touch, says Autoblog.

Moving on to the interior, Edmunds professes the 2008 Audi S6 contains such niceties as leather upholstery with a "well-equipped and beautifully crafted interior." ForbesAutos reports that the optional Leather Dash Package has a "delicate grain and contrast stitching" reminding the reviewer much of a "finely tailored suit." However, Cars.com is quick to note much of what makes this Audi 2008 model luxurious was already included in the "S-line trim on the regular A6."

TheCarConnection.com’s editors drove the new Audi S6 and note it bears the classic roofline arc and “tornado” line running along the lower sills like the lesser A6 sedans. The wide-mouth grille takes away from its dramatic silhouette--but the lower ride height and details give it a more menacing look. The interior's typically Audi, with fine function, but it's not as appealing as the dash in older Audis. The dash has less high-end trim, it’s taller, and more black plastic faces the driver. The S6 also wears a shiny carbon-fiber trim that's not very rich-looking.

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2008 Audi S6

Performance

The 2008 Audi S6 is Hercules on wheels, with all-wheel-drive grip as a bonus.

With superior traction, great balance, and capable steering, the 2008 Audi S6 is a powerhouse of a sedan.

The Audi S6 can go from 0-60 in just 5.1 seconds, says MyRide.com. The 2008 Audi S6 has "5.2-liters of displacement, direct injection, a 12.5:1 compression ratio and dual overhead cams," making it so "the 40-valve aluminum V10 boasts 435 horsepower at 6,800 rpm and 398 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,500 rpm (90 percent of the total torque is available between 2,300 and 6,200 rpm)." ForbesAutos calls the engine "glee-inducing" and cautions "lay a big toe on the accelerator and hold on, because off you go."

Autoblog points out that this Audi 2008 model has a 40/60 split front-to-back power distribution via standard quattro all-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic. However, if the surface conditions change, the split can go as far as distributing 85 percent of the power to the rear wheels or 65 percent to the front wheels. Cars.com notes, "Purists will bemoan the lack of a true manual transmission," but the selectable sport mode keeps the rpm running high and allows for steering wheel paddles to be used for shifting or a gear shifter for sequential-manual shifting. And while ForbesAutos understands the concern over a lack of manual transmission, they "found it highly enjoyable," noting this is most likely due to the fact that "no matter what kind of gear-changing device it's channeled through, 435 horsepower is going to be fun."

Fuel economy in this Audi 2008 model is a bit of a drag with 14 mpg in the city and 19 mpg on the highway, according to Edmunds.

The 2008 Audi S6 keeps a tight grip on the road because of its 265/35 performance tires, says MyRide.com, and the electronic stabilization program also makes for better handling in tricky road conditions. They call braking a "consistently worry-free endeavor" and note steering is equally "praiseworthy," except for the need of a bit more "road feel" and "responsiveness." Body roll is minimal, says ForbesAutos, and the Audi S6 car feels "unexpectedly light on its feet" when out on the open road, making for "excellent" ride quality. Even so, they call the pedal sensitivity "disconcerting, because at low speeds the gas pedal can feel like an on/off switch." They further mention how this can be a real pain in high traffic times. "The brakes are likewise quick to grab hold, which can be annoying when creeping along during rush hour," they say.

TheCarConnection.com’s editors believe the 2008 Audi S6’s hard-edged engine and sport-tuned suspension give drivers plenty to play with, despite the lack of a manual transmission. There's even a "sport" mode in the automatic that holds gears at redline, for the true racer, so you can hear that glorious, throaty, muffled roar. The transmission, steering, chassis, and brakes are appropriately upgraded for such prodigious power. The steering is perfectly weighted and responsive, the brakes powerful and sure, the ride motions beautifully damped as the big tires grip, the suspension takes a set, and your thumbs call up exactly the right gear to power through each corner, whether slow, fast, or ruggedly rough.

8

2008 Audi S6

Comfort & Quality

With excellent seating for four and industry-leading interior quality, the 2008 Audi S6 excels in comfort.

Reviews from across the Web report that the front seats of the Audi S6 are supportive and comfy, the rear seats are amply roomy for two, and interior quality is top-notch.

The elegance of the Audi S6 starts with the driving area's architecture, says Autoblog. The new-generation sport seats contain "integral head restraints"--a nice touch. The ForbesAutos reviewer notes the seats seemed "custom-fitted" for his "tall, narrow frame," and calls the front sport seats "supportive" and "firm." MyRide.com adds the "power tilt and telescoping steering wheel" makes for "optimum placement," noting the Audi 2008 S6's climate system controls are "clearly-marked" and within arm's reach.

The rear seating is "wide enough for three," says ForbesAutos, but notes they are "really meant for two, as indicated by the bolstered semi-bucket seats at the outboard positions." This means the person in the middle has to "saddle up on a short, flat leather perch between the two real seats."

As far as storage in the Audi 2008 S6 is concerned, ForbesAutos calls it "ample," pointing out the "bi-level console between the seats, a pair of unobtrusive cup holders...an overhead sunglasses holder and a glove compartment that automatically falls open once a cryptically labeled button on the dash is pressed."

Moving on to the quality of the Audi S6, Car and Driver says this "mature supersedan" is classy and has a spoils-rich atmosphere. The 2008 Audi S6 is better suited for those pulling long treks, says MyRide.com, rather than just going "back and forth to the office." Even so, the "top-notch plastics and leather" are worth mentioning, placing the "interior build quality" of the 2008 Audi S6 "among the best in the industry."

A word of warning: "higher speeds elicit a fair amount of road noise," MyRide.com notes.

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2008 Audi S6

Safety

With excellent crash-test ratings and plentiful safety features, the 2008 Audi S6 provides a secure feeling for drivers.

There's no doubt about it: The 2008 Audi S6 is a safe car. It's received excellent ratings and has a high number of safety features that are sure to keep you secure on the road.

According to Edmunds, the 2008 Audi S6 does not have any ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Cars.com notes the Audi S6 received a Top Safety Pick designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) "for exceptional performance in frontal-, side-, and rear-impact crashes." As a corollary, Edmunds reports the S6 earned a rating of "good" in both frontal and side-impact tests from the IIHS.

Edmunds lists the standard safety equipment in the S6 as including "antilock disc brakes, stability control, all-wheel drive, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags." There are optional features available, as well, that ramp up the safety, including "rear-seat airbags, a rearview camera and Audi's Lane Assist lane departure system."

ForbesAutos throws in a few more safety perks, like the electronic stability program, the anti-slip regulation, and two-stage airbags. They also note that "outward visibility is excellent" in the Audi S6.

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2008 Audi S6

Features

Despite several complaints about the MMI control, the 2008 Audi S6’s features are plentiful and, for the most part, enjoyable.

While the 2008 Audi S6 caters to the gadget-addled driver, the jury is still out on whether the MMI system is a benefit or a drawback.

The 2008 Audi S6 comes in "one loaded trim level," Edmunds reports, equipped with "19-inch wheels with performance tires...adaptive bi-xenon headlights, a sunroof," and more. Autoblog notes sports seats, the "integral head restraints," the three spoke leather-covered steering wheel, and shift paddles that are mounted to the steering wheel as key features.

When it comes to the Multi-Media Interface, or MMI, opinions diverged wildly. "The MMI control interface allows the driver and front passenger to operate entertainment, climate, communications and navigation functions," says Edmunds. The MMI is similar to the BMW iDrive system, they note, and thus, "there is a learning curve involved."

MyRide.com greatly dislikes the interface on the S6 and wishes Audi would drop this complicated system for simple buttons that make sense. Forbes Auto completely disagrees, stating, "Audi's MultiMedia (MMI) was simple to use without consulting the manual." TheCarConnection.com’s opinion of all such systems is fairly low—they include the Mercedes COMAND setup, too—but Audi’s system at least has redundant buttons that allow easier access to some secondary functions. The MMI interface also has a 7-inch monitor and comes standard with the S6, along with a Bose sound system, Bluetooth connectivity, and Sirius Satellite Radio.

Audi’s Advanced Parking system is a useful option. "A camera positioned above the rear license plate transmits live video of what lies directly beneath the car so you don't accidentally bump into anything," explains ForbesAutos, noting this feature is especially useful in a car as long as the Audi S6.

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