Review: Audi S6 (2012 – 2018)
Effortless performance from 4.0-litre V8 engine. Available as a saloon or Avant. Fuel economy improved over previous S6. Refined ride for a performance car.
Somewhat lacking the excitement you'd expect from an Audi S model.
Audi S6 (2012 – 2018): At A Glance
Audi preserves the RS badge for its hardcore high performance models, such as the RS5, but these are usually introduced towards the end of a models life. That means it will be a few years before we see a new RS6. But that's not to say you can't have a performance version in the meantime. Step forward the Audi S6. Powered by a big V8 engine it has all the right credentials with more than 400PS on tap, a 0-62mph time of less than 5.0 seconds and a suitably purposeful, if understated look.
What it does really well is to blend this performance with impressive refinement. It's effortlessly quick and accelerates so smoothly it's often a surprise when you realise how fast you're going. It may be a performance car but on the move it's as serene as limousine with barely any noise and an impressively forgiving ride, despite the fact it comes with 19-inch alloys as standard.
Audi hasn't skimped on equipment and the S6 comes with adaptive air suspension which accounts for the high quality ride, plus there's a quattro sports differential to ensure sharp handling and plenty of traction. There are also big improvements in economy over the previous S6 which used a larger V10 engine. This version is now able to average almost 30mpg compared to the 21mpg of the old model. Elsewhere there's a high quality interior with a sophisticated infotainment system.
Make no mistake, the S6 is a great car and offers tremendous power, yet it's still very refined and easy to drive everyday. It fits the bill as a high performance luxury saloon, however, while it's mightily impressive it falls short of offering the kind of excitement and driver involvement that you might expect. That said, in terms of price and power it's not really an alternative to the BMW M5, instead it's more likely to rival the likes of the BMW 550i and the Jaguar XF 5.0 V8.
What does a Audi S6 (2012 – 2018) cost?
Audi S6 (2012 – 2018): What's It Like Inside?
The interior of the S6 builds on the high quality finish of the standard A6 and adds some suitably sporty and high end features. It gets sports seats in both the front and back which are trimmed in Valcona leather with a nice diamond stitching design. The front seats adjust electrically and there's a useful memory function for the driver while the rest of the interior is finished in black including the headlining with contrasting stitching on the steering wheel and gear lever.
Other nice details include the metal finish on the air vents and door handles along with an aluminium trim on the pedals and footrest along with a red glow around the engine start button. There are also carbon inlays on the door cards and central console, which can be seen in the photographs, while a new black and aluminium wood effect is available.
Like the standard A6 the interior quality is impressive plus there's plenty of space, particularly for the driver with good leg room. It's practical too with plenty of storage including big poor pockets and a useful centre armrest. The rear seats also split and fold down on both the saloon and Avant.
Overall while it doesn't especially stand out as a performance model, the interior is still very upmarket with a truly luxury feel. It's also incredibly comfortable and refined, even at high speeds. Audi has introduced a new system called Active Noise Cancellation which works when the 'cylinder on demand' system switches to four cylinders. Microphones in the headlining record the noise in the cabin which is then analysed by the on board computer. If it detects intrusive noise, it broadcasts an 'antiphase' noise through the speakers which cancels it out.
Standard equipment from launch (May 2012):
The S6 comes with 19-inch wheels, four-zone climate control, acoustic parking system, adaptive air suspension, quattro four-wheel drive, split folding rear seats, three-spoke leather multi function steering wheel, Audi drive select, automatic engine start/stop, Alcantara and leather upholstery, cruise control, dual twin exhausts, ESP stability control, extended rear spoiler, electronically adjustable front seats, LED rear lights, automatic lights, rain sensitive wipers, matt black brake calipers, MMI radio, Bluetooth, sports differential, sports seats with power lumbar supports, sat nav and xenon headlights.
Child seats that fit a Audi S6 (2012 – 2018)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the Audi S6 (2012 – 2018) like to drive?
- Engines range from 4.0 TFSI quattro to 4.0 TFSI quattro Avant
- Readers report Real MPG to be between 18–26 mpg
The real talking point of the S6 is of course the engine. This generation of the S6 is powered by a 4.0-litre V8 unit rather than the 5.2-litre V10 that was in the previous model. It may be smaller engine and have two fewer cylinders but it has a trick up its sleeve in the form of twin turbochargers. These help boost power to 420PS along with 550Nm of torque which is pretty similar to the V10 engine that has 435PS and 540Nm.
However the fact it has twin turbochargers gives it more urgency at lower speeds and consequently you don't have to rev it has high as the V10 in order to appreciate its power. On paper the figures are impressive with a 0-62mph time of just 4.6 seconds with the Avant taking a fraction longer at 4.7 seconds. The top speed is limited to 155mph in both.
In everyday driving the performance is very accessible and it makes manouevres such as overtaking very straightforward. Not only is it a very powerful engine but it's also very refined. The power delivery is effortless and often it doesn't feel like you're accelerating as quickly as the scenery flying past the window suggests. Some might find it a little too refined though. The engine has a nice sound with a low rumble on start-up, but it never sounds spectacular, even when you really work it hard.
That said there is a nice burble when you come off the power and the seven speed S tronic automatic gearbox, which comes as standard, works very well with the big V8, providing fast and smooth shifts. It can occassionally get caught out though, for instance when you come off the power at low speeds and then immediately ask it to accelerate again.
For a performance saloon the S6 rides impressively well. It's forgiving and smooth despite the fact it gets 19-inch wheels as standard. Even on the optional 20-inch alloys it's still as comfortable as an A6 in S line specification with the same size wheels.
Much of this is down to the adaptive air suspension which comes as standard and can be adjusted through the Audi drive select system. It has several settings including comfort and dynamic so you can change the stiffness depending on the kind of roads you're on. The drive select system also changes the accelerator pedal response, the steering weight and the gear shift points.
As you'd expect of a high performance Audi, the S6 comes with quattro four-wheel drive as standard which gives it great traction away from slow corners and ensures it's able to transfer its considerable power to the road without scrabbling for grip. It's especially reassuring when driving in the wet. On top of this the S6 gets a sports differential which continuously distributes power between the rear wheels.
There is also a clever torque vectoring system. This bit of kit makes cornering more precise by slightly braking the inside wheel in a bend while extra power is sent to the outside wheel. The result is that you need less steering lock through a corner and it feels very stable even in the tightest of turns. The result is that the S6 feels very agile and corners sharply, with plenty of grip and impressive traction when accelerating. The steering could do with a touch more feel but it's responsive nonetheless while the lightweight design of the Audi means the S6 is nimble when you ask it change direction quickly.
Fuel economy isn't likely to be a priority for someone buying an S6 but it's still a concern, if only because of the time you have to spend at petrol stations. The S6 is impressive for a car with more than 400PS with an official average figure of 29.4mpg (29.1mpg in the Avant), far better than the previous S6 which did just 21mpg.
It's helped by a number of fuel saving system including a new 'cylinder on demand' system which was first seen on the Audi A1 Sportback 1.4 TSI. When the engine isn't fully stretched, for instance when you're cruising on the motorway, it deactivates four of the eight cylinders. When power is needed again it automatically activates them and there's no noticeable different from behind the wheel.
|4.0 TFSI quattro||29–31 mpg||4.2–4.7 s||214–226 g/km|
|4.0 TFSI quattro Avant||29–30 mpg||4.6 s||219 g/km|
Real MPG average for a Audi S6 (2012 – 2018)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.
Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.
Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.
What have we been asked about the Audi S6 (2012 – 2018)?
Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.
Audi S6 oil pump and turbo failure
What Cars Are Similar To The Audi S6 (2012 – 2018)?
Unclear on what your next car should be? Use our Car Chooser to pick something that suits your needs.