2016 Audi S6 Quick Spin [w/video]
Audi Reminds Us That The Present Day Is Outstanding
EngineTwin-Turbo 4.0L V8
Power450 HP / 406 LB-FT
0-60 Time4.4 Seconds
Top Speed155 MPH
Curb Weight4,486 LBS
MPG18 City / 27 HWY
As Tested Price$81,000 (est.)
Best Deal Price$69,311
"What's that?" I might have asked. "A roomy four-seat Audi with more than 400 horsepower and all-wheel drive, that looks like it was sculpted by Ralph McQuarrie? Pushing 30 mpg and under five seconds to 60 miles per hour? The hell you say."
And that's even before Future Me showed Skinny Me an interior full of carbon fiber and aluminum, God's own quilted-leather sport buckets, and a 'radio' that would've made my Dreamcast look like an Atari 6400. (If you haven't picked up on the vibe yet, I was kind of a weird nerd in the late '90s.) Gentlemen, we live in the future; I just drove a mid-cycle-refresh Audi that proves it.
- The 4.0-liter, turbocharged V8 is tailor-made for smoothly pulling around anything less-well-endowed than the M5/E63/CTS-V set. Now up to 450 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque (versus the 420 hp and 406 lb-ft of last year's model), there's enough pull in the easily accessible powerband to satisfy all but lunatic drivers. It doesn't feel staggeringly fast, but that's only because 500 horsepower has become so commonplace in the new über sedan game. It's quick enough. Remember when 250 hp was a crazy number?
- The car sounds like it has a V8, too. That may seem obvious, but in Generation Direct Injection things tend to get a bit clattery. You'll get some of that if you open the hood with the engine running (as I did in one of the Short Cuts above), but none where it counts: behind the wheel, windows up, stereo down, foot to the floor. That recipe delivers a hushed, baritone-sung song about understatement.
- Less subtle is the braking force when used at or near the top of its ability. After a moment of surprise and delight while decelerating in normal traffic, I went back-road hunting to test a few pseudo panic stops. Vented 15.7-inch front discs, with 14-inchers in the rear, provided a fast and steady haul-down from 70 miles per hour. Remember when wheels were 15 inches?
- I mean, you need those big brakes and potent engines to move and stop a car this hefty. With a base weight of 4,486 pounds – no doubt heavier still in my loaded, Dutchman-driven example – it still kind of blows my mind to see the 27-miles-per-gallon highway number. Oh, and the 4.4-second 0-to-60 number. Still, remember when two cars combined weighed 4,500 pounds?
- I love, love, love these bucket seats. Somewhat objectively, I think the one-piece design and leather quality is stunning. Subjectively, my six-foot, five-inch, 240-pound body fits like it was a plush F1 saddle, molded just for me. With the seat to the floor and nearly at the back of its rails, I've got tons of headroom and legroom, too.
- The throttle and brake pedals are both hugely engaging, as I touched on. But the same can't be said for the other driver controls. Steering feedback is minimal, though the car goes where you point it, and turns in appropriately for a large sports sedan. The seven-speed S-tronic transmission didn't capture my imagination, either. It's responsive on up and downshifts, technically proficient, but there's rarely anything visceral or overly snappy about clicking off shifts. Perhaps it comes alive at really fast speeds? I suppose I ought to remember that old 'automatic' transmissions used to uniformly suck.
- Even on the optional 20-inch wheels, the S6 has gorgeous ride quality. The adaptive air suspension kept me from feeling jostled over pavement cracks and expansion joints, while holding that big body neatly steady when I wanted to whip through some curves. Understeer lurked just beyond the horizon of the pace I picked for regular roads, but at speeds that will keep me out of jail, the car feels neutrally balanced.
Just over $71,000 now buys you a big, fast, statement making Audi. In my aforementioned villainous youth, that kind of bread would've bought me a house (though if I had it, I almost certainly would've accidentally invested it in old Porsches and airfare). These days it puts the S6 slightly wrong-footed versus a similarly powered Cadillac CTS Vsport Premium or Jaguar XF Supercharged, or well under the track-attack Germans from Mercedes and BMW.
I still can't afford any of the crew, so I'll happily bum rides from the OEMs until they pull my card. Here's to progress. Here's to the future we all wanted, happening right now.
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