What On Earth Is Audi Cooking Up With This S6 Test Mule?

Spy Shots / 7 Comments

We don't even know what to call the contraption on the back.

A whole lot of brands are ceasing development of their internal-combustion powertrains. As a matter of fact, Audi is one of those brands. As of 2026, Audi will no longer sell gas-powered cars. That means machines like this Audi S6 won't be around for much longer. Instead, they'll be replaced by EVs like the Audi A6 e-tron. Yet, here we sit, looking at what many would think to be the development of an internal-combustion powertrain.

At least, that's what it looks like to us. Our spies found this S6 test mule running around during some winter testing with some kind of strange exhaust hanging out the back. Next to it sits some sort of black box that looks like it would be more at home on an airplane than on a road-going vehicle.

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If you check out the photos of the current 2022 Audi S6 below, you'll note that the exhaust leaves the rear of the car above where this... contraption sits. In fact, the test mule has trim placed over where the S6's exhaust normally lives. The first and most obvious explanation for the new pipes is a new exhaust for the S6. But if that's the case, then why isn't it in the factory location? The black box also leaves more questions than answers. It could be designed to shield our eyes from what lurks beneath, or it could be some kind of new exhaust componentry hanging low.

Given that emissions for production petrol cars are ever-tightening, it could be that Audi is simply doing some emissions testing. But again, why the new location for the exhaust? You'll also notice that the rear ride height of the S6 is significantly lower than the front. Whatever is going on back there, be it new exhaust or other, is clearly adding some heft to the 4,486 lb. vehicle.

2020-2022 Audi S6 View Out Back Audi 2020-2022 Audi S6 Aft View Audi 2020-2022 Audi S6 Driving Back View Audi
2020-2022 Audi S6 View Out Back
2020-2022 Audi S6 Aft View
2020-2022 Audi S6 Driving Back View

We think it's highly unlikely Audi is further developing the V6 that's currently powering the 444 hp super saloon, but you never know. One thing's for sure: this strange new exhaust setup has certainly piqued our interest. We'll have to wait for further info from Audi or our spies to learn more.

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