I’ve heard the same sentence over and over regarding the new S6, S7, and S8 from Audi; “it’s stupid fast”. I’m willing to acknowledge the fact that Audi has made these new super-sport sedans into exotic-crushers, but I just can’t wrap my head around the concept. Our friends over at Car and Driver got 3.7 seconds to 60 mph out of the 2013 Audi S6. Even after taking into account that this number is faster than a Ferrari F430 and is dead-on with an Audi R8 4.2, this number is blisteringly quick. Is the car any good though?
I decided to borrow a 2013 Audi S6 for the week. This S6 is the most “serious” of the 3 sedans Audi offers featuring the new 4.0L twin-turbocharged V8 on these shores. Putting out 420 horsepower through a 7-speed S-Tronic double clutch gearbox, the only way to describe the car is that it’s absolute madness. 100 km/h does indeed come around before you even realize you’ve stomped on the throttle. The S6 is just so smooth and quiet that there’s no way to accurately tell how fast you’re actually going. Speeding tickets are going to become a regular topic of interest at the monthly owners’ club meetings.
Many argue that the styling of every Audi (and every Porsche) is repetitive to the point of redundant, but I’ve protested this every chance I’ve had. Where some automakers choose bold, innovative, controversial styling, Audis are almost universally deemed elegant. I personally think they’re doing things right, and there’s no reason to veer from that seemingly perfect path. The interiors are well-designed, always incorporating fantastic materials with an ergonomic design that is comfortable to use for even the most techno-phobic driver.
The equipment list on my tester S6 is extensive; and at an as-tested price of just over $98,000, it damn well better be. The Audi MMI interface is fantastic as usual; I absolutely love the positioning of everything in the menu. While the $6,500 Bang & Olufsen audio package may seem steep, a few tweaks in the equalizer setting led me to believe it’s the best audio system I’ve heard in any car. That is, of course, excepting the Burmester system in the new Porsche Cayenne. Every instrumental, every vocal, and every drop of the bass is so crisp it’s almost unbelievable. I used to be a former believer in the theory that a good aftermarket sound system will blow any factory-installed system out of the water. With this brilliance available from Bang & Olufsen, this is no longer the case. It’s worth every last penny of that $6,500.
The S6 also came with gorgeous diamond-shaped stitching on the leather seats. A bit of a luxurious touch rather than the pure sporting nature of its competitor, the BMW M5; the 2013 Audi S6 still holds its own. For $100,000 though, I would have expected things like a panoramic sunroof or ventilated seats. One stomp on the gas pedal, however, and the 4.0L twin-turbo V8 makes you forget about all about that. It’s almost as if it says “cooled seats? HA! You don’t need those with this roar!”
The Audi S6 is certainly a brilliant all-around car; but like other Audis, there’s just something lacking. It would be completely redundant of me to complain about how German cars (save for a certain elite few) lack the sheer level of passion of their Italian cousins, so I won’t go there. Instead, I’ll bring up the point that while this S6 does everything reasonably well, it doesn’t do anything alarmingly well (other than go fast in a straight line). The steering feels a bit over-boosted, and even with Quattro, it just doesn’t feel as planted in the corners as you’d expect it to.
However, the S-TRONIC double-clutch gearbox does bring true meaning to the word ‘perfection’. It may not give you as much satisfaction as rowing through your own gears and having to step on a clutch, but there isn’t a human out there that can shift as efficiently or quickly as this transmission. It’s just so quick it makes your head spin. It’s not just the speed of the shifts that makes the transmission that good; it’s the satisfaction you get from the exhaust burble too. It all just comes together so well and sounds so good, it’s hard not to fall in love. In fact, we like it so much that we think the double-clutch transmission is the future of the automotive industry. While manuals are still awesome to have in economy cars and even sports cars that aren’t intended for straight-line power (Mazda MX-5, Subaru BRZ), every single performance car out there can benefit significantly from a DCT transmission.
I love the S6; I really do. At an observed 16L/100km however, it’s hard to fall in love with it. Is it better than the M5? I really don’t know. Pricing for the S6 starts at almost $20,000 less than the M5. For daily driving, I’d take the S6, hands down, but that’s only because when commuting, I’d put creature comforts, value, and all-wheel-drive over a purist driving experience. Also, 3.7 seconds to 100 km/h is nothing to joke about.
2013 Audi S6 Gallery
2013 Audi S8 Review – by Robert Maduri
2012 Audi S5 V8 Review – by Adi Desai
2013 Audi S4 Review – by Adi Desai