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- Highs Nimble handling, premium interior, saves ten grand over the S7 fastback.
- Lows Overabundance of touchscreen controls, tame styling, lacks complimentary maintenance.
- Verdict The S6 provides sports sedan performance in an unassuming package, but a raft of rivals offers both more excitement and more flash.
The 2023 S6 takes Audi’s mid-size, mild-mannered A6 sedan and wakes it up with a zingy 444-hp twin-turbo V-6 engine and sportier suspension. It’s a big enough injection of caffeine to earn the S6 the label of “sports sedan.” Along with sports-sedan moves the S6 offers a premium interior, which helps mitigate its conservative styling. If the S6’s low-key, three-box sedan looks aren’t sexy enough for you, Audi offers the sleeker fastback S7 with identical mechanical bits—but it’ll cost you ten grand more. Attack a curvy stretch of road in the S6 and it suddenly feels like a smaller car, with nimble handling and effortless, beautifully modulated power. Can a sport sedan be too composed? Maybe. Competitors like the Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing, and Mercedes-AMG E53 are both more visceral and more fun.
Where This Vehicle Ranks
What's New for 2023?
A new base Premium trim is available on the S6 this year and can be outfitted with an optional Convenience package. The Executive package is also new and includes adaptive cruise control with a lane-centering feature, a power trunk lid, and LED interior lighting. Buyers can opt for the Audi Sport Stitching package, which puts red contrast stitching on black leather upholstery throughout the cabin. The mid-range Premium Plus model now comes standard with LED interior lighting, heated rear seats, additional driver-assistance features, and extended leather upholstery that covers the dashboard, armrests, and center console. The top-of-the-line Prestige model is now available with the Design Edition package, which adds unique 21-inch wheels, black exterior trim and darkened chrome accents; the package also includes black microfiber-and-leather interior upholstery with red stitching.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
Upgrading to the Prestige model costs a little more but it unlocks a lot of features, including a hands-free driving mode, a head-up display, matrix-design LED headlamps, automatic high-beams, soft-close doors, a power-operated trunk lid, a leather-wrapped dashboard and center console, an in-cabin fragrance diffuser, and heated rear seats. We'd add the 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen stereo system and the cool night vision feature that helps identify animals and pedestrians in the dark.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
While the last-generation S6 was powered by a throaty 450-hp 4.0-liter V-8, the 2020 model comes with a more complex powertrain. The standard 2.9-liter V-6 is twin-turbocharged and uses a 48-volt hybrid system to power an electric supercharger for additional boost. Altogether, the system pumps out a robust 444 horsepower. An eight-speed automatic and Audi's Quattro all-wheel-drive system are standard. Audi claims the car can leap to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds but we think that number is conservative; the S7—the S6's shapelier counterpart—managed to blast to 60 mph in just 4.1 seconds at our test track. On curvy roads, the S6 proves to be a lovely partner. It disguises its size and feels nimbler than we anticipated, especially with the optional rear-wheel-steering system.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
As expected, the S6's fuel economy has improved over the outgoing V-8 model's. The new car earned EPA estimated ratings of 18 mpg city, 28 mpg highway, and 22 mpg combined—an increase of 2 mpg, 4 mpg, and 4 mpg, respectively, over the old V-8-powered S6. We haven't had the chance to put this car through our 200-mile highway fuel-economy test, but the mechanically similar S7 delivered a 28-mpg result. For more information about the S6's fuel economy, visit the EPA's website.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Like that of the A6, the S6's interior serves to highlight Audi's tech-driven luxury ethos. The design is sleek and modern, highlighted by fine materials, soft leather, and genuine wood trim. Four-zone automatic climate control is standard, as are a power-adjustable heated steering wheel, adjustable ambient lighting, diamond-stitched leather upholstery, and 12-way power-adjustable heated front seats. Going with the top-spec Prestige model adds the Extended Leather package, which wraps the dashboard, armrests, and center console in supple leather. Though we haven't tested the S6's cargo capacity yet, we expect it will hold the same amount of stuff as the A6—that is, six carry-on suitcases inside the trunk and a total of 20 cases with the rear seats folded.
Infotainment and Connectivity
The S6's dashboard is dominated by digital displays. The main 10.1-inch infotainment touchscreen rests above a secondary 8.6-inch display. The upper screen handles functions such as navigation, audio controls, and other entertainment features while the lower one provides access to vehicle settings, climate control, and the like. All S6 models come standard with Audi's Virtual Cockpit digital gauge display and an onboard Wi-Fi hotspot. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration are also included.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
Like the A6, the S6 offers a host of standard driver-assistance features with more high-tech ones available as options. For more information about the S6's crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. Key safety features include:
- Standard automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection
- Standard lane-departure warning
- Available adaptive cruise control with hands-free driving mode
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
If Audi's standard warranty seems a little basic, that's because is it. Rivals such as the BMW 8-series Gran Coupe and the two-door Lexus LC offer more value in the form of a complimentary scheduled maintenance program or longer powertrain warranty.
- Limited warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance
2020 Audi S6
front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan
PRICE AS TESTED
$79,990 (base price: $74,895)
twin-turbocharged, supercharged, and intercooled DOHC 24-valve V-6, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection
177 in3, 2894 cm3
444 hp @ 6700 rpm
443 lb-ft @ 1900 rpm
Suspension (F/R): multilink/multilink
Brakes (F/R): 15.8-in vented disc/13.8-in vented disc
Tires: Pirelli P Zero PNCS, 255/35R-21 98Y A0
Wheelbase: 115.3 in
Length: 195.0 in
Width: 74.3 in
Height: 56.9 in
Passenger volume: 99 ft3
Trunk volume: 14 ft3
Curb weight: 4472 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS
60 mph: 4.0 sec
100 mph: 9.8 sec
130 mph: 17.3 sec
150 mph: 26.2 sec
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 4.9 sec
Top gear, 30–50 mph: 2.9 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 3.5 sec
1/4 mile: 12.5 sec @ 112 mph
Top speed (mfr's claim): 155 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 153 ft
Braking, 100–0 mph: 319 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.90 g
Standing-start accel times omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.
C/D FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 23 mpg
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/city/highway: 22/18/28 mpg