The Auto Trader expert verdict:
Despite its thumping V10 engine, the Audi S6 is up against some seriously tough rivals from AMG and BMW's M division - rivals it cannot match.
Reasons to buy:
- Glorious 5.2-litre V10 engine
- Phenomenal traction in all conditions
- Discreet looks given the performance
How good does it look?
The Audi A6 might not be the newest premium saloon in the showrooms, but it’s still a handsome, appealing car. Revisions have kept the A6 looking fresh. The Audi S6 looks particularly smart thanks to some subtle sporting styling additions. Larger alloy wheels, deeper front and rear bumpers with larger air intakes, a unique front grille and some V10 badges hint quietly at its potency. Some of the visual subtlety is lost with the showy LED driving lights, but within the S6’s settings there’s an off switch.
What's the interior like?
Few car manufacturers can come close to Audi when it comes to interior quality, fit, finish and ease of use. Being just one rung off the top spot in the range means the S6 is very luxuriously appointed, with more than a hint at its sporting pretensions. The steering wheel is chunky and nicely shaped; S6 badging, carbon fibre trim and leather-covered sports seats create the expected sporting ambience.
How practical is it?
It might have a 5.2-litre V10 petrol engine under the bonnet, but the S6 has lost none of its executive levels of space inside. The rear of the cabin is generously proportioned and the boot is vast. Four adults should find no trouble getting comfortable inside – though five is a squeeze due to the raised centre seat section in the back and limited leg room. There’s plenty of oddment storage throughout the interior, with deep door bins and a large glovebox too.
What's it like to drive?
Audi’s quattro four-wheel drive system gives tremendous traction, making the S6 feel far more surefooted than its rear-wheel drive rivals. Aimed at a sporting audience it’s not surprising the suspension is firm, but the S6 never manages to find that balance of tidy body control and decent ride comfort. Lumps and bumps in the road see the suspension skipping around and sending jarring crashes into the cabin. Find a stretch of smooth Tarmac and the S6 will impress with its ability to carry speed, but lifeless steering and overly firm suspension ultimately robs this Audi of real driver appeal.
How powerful is it?
Anything with a 5.2-litre V10 engine with 429bhp and 398lb/ft of torque will not be slow. The numbers back it up too, with the S6 reaching 62mph in just 5.2 seconds on its way to an electronically limited 155mph. Those numbers aren’t in quite the same league as those on offer from Audi’s own RS6, BMW’s M5 or the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG, but few are likely to find fault with the potential the S6 offers. The V10 engine enjoys high revs, and rewards with scintillating pace and a rousing soundtrack.
How much will it cost me?
Just as anything with a 5.2-litre V10 engine isn’t going to be slow, neither will it be inexpensive to run. Audi quotes official average fuel consumption of 21.0mpg and CO2 emissions of 319g/km. Neither of those figures will win you friends at Greenpeace; nor will they help your bank balance. Bigger, more expensive tyres, larger brakes and that exotic V10 under the bonnet means servicing costs will be a bit higher than on more sedate A6 models.
How reliable is it?
The S6 saloon and its A6 relatives have been around since 2006 and they’re proved reasonably reliable. Audi’s dealers regularly score well in customer satisfaction surveys, too.
How safe is it?
The security of four-wheel drive traction is welcome on our often wet roads – particularly when there’s so much power on offer. Electronic stability control, traction and cornering braking systems, as well as ABS and a full suite of airbags should keep you safe. The A6 (and hence S6) achieved a maximum five stars in the EuroNCAP for adult protection, and four stars for child protection.
How much equipment do I get?
If you ignore the almost stand-alone RS6 model then the S6 is right at the top of the A6 line-up. It’s equipped to reflect that, with an equipment list that includes pretty much everything you could ever want. At this level though people always want more, and there are plenty of audio and visual upgrades, differing paint and interior finishes among the extensive options choices.
The Audi S6 is fast and stylish but it’s bettered by its BMW and Mercedes-Benz AMG rivals. It also lives under the sizeable shadow cast by its more expensive RS6 relative. However, it is discreet and proves a very rapid way to cover motorway miles. Hefty fuel bills will sting though, and the S6 just isn’t rewarding or interesting enough to allow you to ignore them.