What's New for 2013
After a one-year hiatus, the Audi S6 returns for 2013 sporting a new chassis, more fuel-efficient engine and a full suite of Audi's latest high-tech conveniences.
With the 2013 Audi S6, Audi reinvents its line of S-equipped models, splitting the difference between the pure performance of BMW M and the refinement of Mercedes-Benz AMG. The key hardware includes a high-performance engine, air suspension, upgraded brakes and high-performance tires, and they add up to an energetic car that is also unexpectedly refined.
A new twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 replaces the former naturally aspirated V10. It makes less horsepower but slightly more torque than its predecessor, putting 420 horsepower and 406 pound-feet to the ground through a dual-clutch seven-speed automated manual transmission. All-wheel drive is standard.
The new S6 has bulked up a bit compared to its precursor, gaining about 130 pounds. But considering the additional electronics and driver aids onboard, that's not bad. A body comprised of 20 percent aluminum lightens the load, while the new chassis -- which locates the engine farther rearward -- helps the latest S6 respond more crisply as it enters the corners.
Audi claims the 2013 Audi S6 can sprint from zero to 60 mph in less than 4.8 seconds, a full second quicker than the former V10-powered model. Yet even with its quicker acceleration, the 4.0-liter also delivers improved fuel economy to the tune of 20 mpg in combined city/highway driving.
The S6 also carries the creature comforts and other performance upgrades expected of the "S" version of a given Audi. These include a sport-tuned, adaptive air suspension with variable damping, 19- and 20-inch wheels and driver assistance systems including adaptive cruise control, pre-collision warning, lane departure warning and night vision. A stunning Bang & Olufsen audio system, adaptive LED headlights, parking assist with a 360-degree camera view and massaging seats are also available. There's even a WiFi router option that turns the S6 into a mobile hotspot, and a navigation system with touchpad and handwriting recognition.
As you've likely realized by this point, the 2013 Audi S6 is very well-equipped to take on V8-powered rivals like the BMW 5 Series, Jaguar XF and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Overall we think pretty highly of the new S6 and believe it's worth a good look if you desire a midsize luxury sport sedan with equal levels of performance, technology and style.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Audi S6 is a midsize super sport sedan that comes in a single Prestige trim level.
Standard features include 19-inch wheels, adaptive xenon headlights, adaptive air suspension, power sunroof, keyless ignition/entry, heated auto-dimming sideview mirrors, park assist with rearview camera, garage door opener, Audi Drive Select, diamond-stitched leather upholstery, real ash wood accents, 12-way power heated front sport seats, driver memory settings, power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, four-zone automatic climate control, a navigation system, Bluetooth connectivity, Audi Connect Internet integration and a Bose audio system with CD/DVD player, HD radio and USB/iPod interface.
Options for the S6 include a number of packages. The Innovation package features adaptive cruise control (with stop and go functionality), power-folding sideview mirrors, night vision assist, a head-up display, side blind-zone warning, lane departure warning/assist and Audi pre-sense plus (which alerts the driver if a potential collision is detected and automatically applies the brakes if necessary). The Driver Assistance package includes the adaptive cruise, side blind-zone warning, power-folding mirrors and Pre-Sense Plus. The Comfort Seating package features multicontour front seats with ventilation and massaging functions, passenger memory settings and the deletion of the diamond stitching. A Cold Weather package provides a heated rear seat and a heated steering wheel.
Individual option highlights include 20-inch wheels, LED headlights, a power rear sunshade, rear seat side airbags, a Bang & Olufsen sound system and a number of different accents (brushed aluminum, carbon black, oak wood) in lieu of the standard ash wood.
Powertrains and Performance
A twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 powers the S6. It pumps out 420 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque that runs to the ground through a dual-clutch seven-speed automated manual transmission and all-wheel drive.
Audi claims the S6 can sprint from zero to 60 mph in less than 4.8 seconds, a full second quicker than what the previous V10-equipped S6 ran. Despite that blistering performance, the 2013 S6 returns good fuel economy thanks to a refined cylinder-deactivation system supplemented by variable valve timing, and EPA estimates stand at 17 mpg city/27 mpg highway and 20 mpg combined.
Standard safety equipment on the 2013 Audi S6 includes antilock disc brakes, stability control, front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and front knee airbags.
Rear side airbags, blind-spot and lane departure systems are optional, as is the Audi Pre-Sense Plus system which can warn the driver and automatically activate the brakes and adjust the front seats for maximum protection if a crash is deemed imminent.
In crash testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the similar A6 on which the S6 is based received the highest possible rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
In keeping with Audi tradition, the 2013 Audi S6 has one of the nicest cabins in its class, with a handsome dash layout, excellent materials quality and solid fit and finish. The MMI (Multi Media Interface) controls entertainment, communication and navigation functions via the dash-mounted pop-up screen and a knob and buttons on the center console. The system combines logical menus, crisp graphics and a touchpad to increase functionality. MMI is fairly intuitive, although we still prefer the Mercedes COMAND interface for overall usefulness.
The S6 also features in-car Wi-Fi, which uses a 3G connection and adds Google Earth data to the navigation system while also providing simplified Google search for POIs. It sounds a bit over the top, but proves handy if you need to get some unexpected work done on the road and there's no Starbucks in sight. The Google Earth feature is an example of form over function, as the map can be more difficult to comprehend at a glance.
Whether you stay with the standard sport seats or opt for the comfort seats, we're fairly confident you'll find them supportive during spirited back roads driving and comfortable on long trips. Those in back don't get short shrift either, as the rear quarters provide more real-world legroom than most rivals.
The S6's 14.1-cubic-foot trunk is on the small side, though the split rear seat folds down and features a pass-through when more space is needed.
The quick response of the 420-hp twin-turbo V8 and the seven-speed automated manual transmission give the 2013 Audi S6 a refreshingly strong personality, and the all-wheel-drive system, upgraded brakes and usable air suspension let you put it to good use. As you can feel from the crisp messages from the high-performance tires, there's a far more serious car here than you expected.
At the same time, the 2013 Audi S6 is also unexpectedly refined. The use of air suspension takes away much of the road harshness that is the customary price you pay for low-profile tires, while the engine's cylinder-deactivation system works so silently and transparently that you're pleasantly surprised when you discover the good news about the fuel economy.