2017 Audi S6

8.0
2017 Audi S6

The Basics:

The 2017 Audi S6 is one of the automaker's best-performing sedans in its lineup. The four-door super sports sedan is a plain clothes riot, a kegger at Sunday mass, or a foul-mouthed grandmother. The S6 may look understated, but that's certainly not how it performs. It begs to break the laws—of physics, we mean of course—at every turn. 

The 2017 Audi A6 is a stellar mid-size luxury sedan; it's a bit sedate, but still good enough to compete with some flagship vehicles from other brands.

Based from the perfectly adequate A6 sedan, the S6 received a slight upgrade last year and remains largely the same this year. It's an even better version of the luxury sport sedan we've come to know and love and the Audi S6 spins the reserved style of the mid-size A6 sedan into something a little more feisty.

The 2017 Audi S6 earns an 8.5 overall score from us—just ahead of the 8.2 posted by the 2017 Audi A6—thanks to its awesome performance. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

With the S6, Audi has an elegant, modern sedan that's cohesive—a quality often lacking in modern sedans. Inside, Audi’s industry-leading design and materials are present, making for a serene, high-tech, comfortable, and elegant cabin—though in darker tones, it can come off a bit cold.

Last year the Audi S6 was gifted redesigned headlights, new bumpers, a revised “singleframe” grille with a somewhat more aggressive look, and quad-tipped round exhaust outlets. Inside, a redesigned head-up display housing (on equipped models) is sleeker, while the buttons have been upgraded for improved look and feel, and seat controls now have aluminum-look finish. This year, the sedan stays largely the same.

Inside addition

Under the good, the story of the S6 emerges. The S6 received an upgrade to its 4.0-liter, twin-turbocharged V-8 that now produces 450 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque, which is a bump of 30 hp over the previous iteration. A 7-speed dual-clutch automatic deftly swaps cogs and drives all four wheels via Audi's all-wheel-drive system, dubbed quattro. (We might add that the V-8 engine itself is about as deep as a case of beer, which helps engineers place the engine further back in the bay and mitigate some of Audi's famous nose-heavy understeer.)

The 2017 Audi S6 is quick: it’ll run to 60 mph in just 4.3 seconds. Handling is good, if touch detached, with an adaptive suspension that’s able to control the rather large car’s body motion while retaining a comfortable ride. Customizable settings for throttle, transmission, and engine response allow the driver to further tune the S6’s driving nature to suit their mood.

Perhaps the best trick by the Audi S6 is lulling passers-by into believing it's just a very good-looking luxury sedan. Materials are all high-grade; whether metal, plastic, or leather. The seats are comfortable in every position, with even taller adults finding plenty of leg room and head room in the back. Trunk space is ample, and the rear seats fold down for larger items, though those looking for a spacious hauler in the same format would do well to consider the nearly identical, hatchbacked Audi S7.

That presents an existential problem for the S6: If the S7 looks so good and is a top performer, why is the S6 still around? We'd argue that because the S6 is such a performance "sleeper" it's worth keeping around, but Audi may have a different idea in mind. For this year, the automaker is offering a "competition" version of the 3.0T A6 sedan that gets a slight horsepower bump and the S6's exterior looks. We'll see how that model integrates into the lineup later this year.

Swift, and safe

On top of the new performance, Audi continues to offer some of the segment’s best safety technology, including driver aids like adaptive cruise control with stop and go traffic assist; blind-spot monitors; lane-keep assist; enhanced night vision; and brake assist.

According to the EPA, the 2017 S6 manages 18 mpg city, 27 highway, 21 combined. Those figures obviously aren’t going to bowl anyone over if they’re looking for a super-efficient luxury commuter, but for a 450-hp sport sedan, it’s actually rather efficient.

On the safety front, the 2017 Audi A6, which is structurally identical to the 2017 S6, scored a Top Safety Pick+ with the IIHS. The S6 rates top marks of five stars in all categories according to the NHTSA. Those scores put the Audi S6 right at the top of the class when it comes to safety, as you’d expect of a high-tech, highly engineered car with a strong complement of standard and optional high-tech safety features.

Buying Tips:

The black Alcantara headliner for $3,000 can be skipped; instead, opt for the Sport Package with performance exhaust, customizable steering, and adaptive suspension for $3,500. Put the rest on a gift certificate, in Wheel of Fortune parlance.

Other Choices:

  • 2017 Mercedes-Benz E Class
  • 2017 Cadillac CTS
  • 2017 Lexus GS

Reason Why:

The 2017 Audi S6 gets the drop on the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG in price and relative newness. The Benz is a spectacular machine, but its six-figure price is enough to take your breath away—and it'll be updated this year. The BMW M5 is a nice thing, but struggles under its own weight. If you're looking to row your own, the M5 is still the way to go and we certainly appreciate that. The Cadillac CTS-V creates an interesting situation: it's performance is on par with the S6—and so is its price—but the CTS-V seems much more raw and fun to drive, it's hard to pick a winner. The 2016 Lexus GS F is finding its way in the crowd and ultimately could be a better cruiser than the Audi S6.

The Bottom Line:

The 2017 Audi S6 is a supreme performance machine, in an otherwise unsuspecting package.

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