by Deiondre van der Merwe
The Audi S6 is a wolf dressed in sheep's clothing. The polite and reserved business suit it wears as a luxury midsize sedan hides a very important secret, a 444-horsepower turbocharged 2.9-liter V6 borrowed from Porsche that launches the sedan to 60 mph from a standstill in 4.4 seconds. Of course, when your competition includes a brute like the BMW M550i xDrive, albeit indirectly, and the accomplished Mercedes-AMG E53 sedan, you have to be more than just quick. You have to be accomplished in every facet. The S6 doesn't just get you from A to B at gut-wrenching speeds, it also manages to coddle you and surround you with all of the modern tech and convenience you could desire. The rear seats are spacious, and the safety and assistance tech on hand means that when you don't want to stress about driving, it'll alleviate almost all of the trouble of such a chore. Think of this, then, as Jason Statham incarnate. Smooth, suave, and impeccably dressed, but capable of dealing a swift kick to the crotches of any unsuspecting challenger.
There have been various changes to the lower-rung A6 models in terms of standard specifications but for the S6, it's mostly business as usual for the 2022 model year. There are four things worth noting, namely that the previously optional side-rear airbags are standard this year, the interior trim is a new Carbon Twill finish, a more advanced, direct tire-pressure monitoring system is used, and a new design of 21-inch alloy wheel now comes with the optional Black Optic package. There were some other minor changes, with some colors added and others deleted from the selection of exterior paints.
See trim levels and configurations:
The A6 provides a delightfully plush and quiet ride, but the S6 is a little more RS than S in this regard, especially with the available steel sport suspension with adaptive dampers. It's reserved for those who will truly put it to use for performance purposes, but the added prowess comes with the sacrifice of a rather large chunk of comfort. There's also the available rear differential that doles out some torque to the back wheels for added balance in and out of the bends. At the standard level, the adaptive air suspension does a good job of soaking up most of the flaws on the road, but we wouldn't go so far as to call it truly plush, at least not to the same extent as the AMG E53.
The real beauty behind the wheel of the S6 comes when you tap the paddle to put it into a lower gear and the S6 perceptibly stiffens and gets more eager, much like a stealthy lioness stalking her nearby prey. Steering is wonderfully responsive and accurate, if lacking tangible feel, but pairs well with the corner-carving suspension to make you forget quite easily that you're in a considerably large sedan.
The S6 embodies power and practicality and a perfectly blended recipe. There's also a certain charm about having something that appears to be innocent on the outside but is actually a little devil once you get to know it. The 444-hp V6 is an excellent mill that's mated to a smooth and intuitive transmission, making the daily drive something to look forward to. It may not have the ride quality of the AMG E53, but it's still bearable if you live in an area where the roads are relatively well-kept. The cabin can't be faulted at all, the tech components are extremely well laid out, and only the most premium materials were used for the inside - but the Mercedes-AMG E53's cabin is just as deluxe and well put together. Simply put, it's on par with its German rivals by most measures, but it's a tough competition. The BMW M550i blows it out of the water from a performance perspective, and there'll always be a part of you that feels you missed out on the maximum performance available now that the RS6 Avant is in the USA. Still, if you're after a luxury sedan with a big turn of pace, the S6 deserves to be on your shortlist.
The two siblings share much of the same DNA, but the A6 is a lukewarm, more polite version. In terms of exterior appearance, they look nearly identical, but the S6 adds a few bits that make its focus on performance known. They also share a near-identical suite of convenience features in similar trims. The biggest difference between the cousins is that the Audi A6 relies on a 2.0-liter turbo or an optional 3.0-liter V6 that puts out 335 horsepower, and the S6 comes exclusively with a 2.9-liter V6 that punches out 444 horses. Given that the main difference between the two is the added sportiness and power for the S6, the A6 would be a better buy for those who want the luxury but aren't overly concerned with power. For those seeking a bit of a thrill, the S6 is the way to go.
Audi likes to keep things streamlined across generations, with the S6 and the S7 being nearly identical mechanically and sharing a similar appearance. Of course, the S7 boasts a swanky, coupe-like style by comparison and bumps up the price by around $10,000 as a result. The two share a 2.9-liter twin-turbo that produces 444 horsepower and both boast a 48-volt mild hybrid system that puts an end to turbo lag. Both provide similar performance characteristics and aren't much different on the inside, either. The S6 does offer slightly more interior space thanks to a more traditional sedan shape, but the S7 boasts an extra 11 cubic feet of trunk space thanks to its hatchback styling. So who'll be the winner? The S7 is just a slightly jazzed up version of the S6 that costs considerably more, and we don't see the value in spending extra. The S6 is the way to go.
The most popular competitors of 2022 Audi S6: