The S6 takes everything that’s right with the A6 sedan—elegant design, rich interior materials, and innovative technology—and adds a huge dollop of power. With a 420-hp, twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 and a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, the engine offers cylinder deactivation for improved fuel economy. All-wheel drive and an adaptive air suspension help to harness all that power, making it a blast to drive in all types of weather. It’s pricey, but few cars combine excellence at so many levels.
With launch control engaged, the sprint from 0 to 60 mph takes a mere 3.7 seconds, which is all the more impressive considering the engine’s modest output (the last S6 needed 5.4 seconds to do the same deed). Top speed on the new car is limited to 155 mph, although we’re told the S6 would be capable of close to 190 if left ungoverned. The S6 is supposed to be a very efficient performance sedan, thanks to low engine friction and cylinder deactivation—we saw 14 mpg over an admittedly strenuous workout, but EPA numbers should be closer to 17 mpg city and 26 highway.
The combination of the torquey twin-turbo V-8 with a longer wheelbase, less front weight bias, and less overall mass makes the new S6 more of a driver’s car than its predecessor. It is still big but is noticeably more tossable than the previous model. The electromechanical power steering is surprisingly pleasant, light but progressive and well weighted. The optional torque-vectoring sport differential adds weight but offers extra agility that ambitious drivers will easily experience. Grip from the Bridgestone Potenza tires measured 0.87 g on the skidpad, and we managed a 157-foot stop from 70 mph. This isn’t the most hard-edged sports sedan, but its balance of comfort and sporting aggression is commendable.
VEHICLE TYPE: front-engine, 4-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan
ESTIMATED BASE PRICE: $71,000
ENGINE TYPE: twin-turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 32-valve V-8, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection
DISPLACEMENT: 240 cu in, 3933 cc POWER: 420 hp @ 6400 rpm TORQUE: 406 lb-ft @ 1400 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic with manual shifting mode
DIMENSIONS: WHEELBASE: 114.6 in LENGTH: 194.1 in WIDTH: 73.8 in HEIGHT: 56.7 in CURB WEIGHT: 4255 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS: Zero to 60 mph: 3.7 sec Zero to 100 mph: 9.2 sec Zero to 130 mph: 16.1 sec Rolling start, 5-60 mph: 4.9 sec Top gear, 30-50 mph: 2.1 sec Top gear, 50-70 mph: 2.6 sec Standing ¼-mile: 12.1 sec @ 115 mph Top speed (governor limited): 155 mph Braking, 70-0 mph: 157 ft Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.87 g