Used 2007 Audi S6
Edmunds' Expert Review
The 2007 Audi S6 is a well-crafted sports sedan. But in terms of maximum performance and driver enjoyment, it lags behind its two key competitors.
Every so often, Audi tosses its four rings into the rarefied arena of super sport sedans. For 2007, this means the return of the Audi S6 nameplate. As with BMW's "M" and Mercedes' "AMG" divisions, Audi's "S" badge indicates a high-performance version of a given car, in this case the A6 midsize luxury sedan.
For cars of this type, what lies under the hood is always the headlining topic of discussion. In the case of the 2007 S6, Audi has shoehorned in a 5.2-liter V10 engine. The engine is similar to the one used by Audi-owned Lamborghini for its Gallardo exotic sports car but has been modified and detuned for its duty in the Audi. The V10's peak output of 435 hp is less, but the powerband is fuller and more fitting for a luxury sport sedan. It's teamed with a six-speed Tiptronic automatic that allows manual shifting via steering-wheel-mounted paddles, with the power sent to the pavement via Audi's "Quattro" all-wheel-drive system.
Of course, the Audi S6's suspension and brakes are beefed up, the wheels are larger (19-inch alloys all around) and the cabin features aggressively bolstered sport seats and tasteful carbon-fiber accents. In terms of sheer design elegance inside and out, not much can touch this Audi.
Considered in isolation, the S6 is a highly desirable machine. There's plenty of power, serious chassis upgrades (including massive 15-inch brakes in front), all-wheel drive, a typical Audi interior (that is to say, beautifully trimmed) and a price tag that's more than $10,000 less than its two countryman rivals.
Erm, wait, did we say rivals? Yes, and there's the rub for the 2007 Audi S6. Germany is also home to the BMW M5 and Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG, and both sedans are able to outgun the S6 in almost every performance category. For example, although the S6's 0-60-mph time of 5.7 seconds and quarter-mile time of 14.0 seconds are certainly quick, those times are dusted by the sub-5-second and sub-13-second efforts of the Bimmer and Benz. And when the road turns curvy, the pudgier and more nose-heavy S6 just doesn't have the crisp turn-in and light-on-its-feet feel of the other two.
Point this out to Audi and its marketers will likely counter that the less expensive S6 isn't meant to truly compete against those cars. The forthcoming ultra-high-performance, no-holds-barred RS6 will be faster than either, they say. That may be true. Still, when one considers this type of purchase, the dollars spent usually matter less than the performance and status gained. Unfortunately for Audi, the M5 and E63 exceed the S6's performance by a considerable margin.
Trim levels & features
The 2007 Audi S6 is a high-performance version of Audi's A6 midsize luxury sedan that comes in one loaded trim level. Standard are 19-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, upgraded brakes, unique front and rear fascias, bi-xenon adaptive HID headlights, full power accessories, dual-zone automatic climate control, trip computer, leather seating, auto-dimming mirrors, napa leather seating, heated/power front seats and a 10-speaker audio system with CD changer. Options include a navigation system, keyless starting, adaptive cruise control, rear park assist with camera, satellite radio, rear heated seats and a power rear sunshade.
Performance & mpg
A 5.2-liter V10 with 435 hp and 398 pound-feet of torque powers the 2007 Audi S6. It sends its power to all four wheels through a six-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission that allows manual gearchanges via paddles behind the steering wheel. We recorded a 0-60-mph time of 5.7 seconds (compared to Audi's claim of 5.1 seconds) and a quarter-mile run of 14.0 seconds. Top speed is electronically limited to 155 mph.
Antilock disc brakes, stability control, a tire-pressure monitor, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags are all standard. Rear-seat side airbags are optional, as is a rear park-assist system. In IIHS crash testing, the Audi A6 (on which the S6 is based) scored "Good," the highest possible rating, in both frontal-offset and side-impact tests.
Weighing nearly 4,500 pounds, the 2007 Audi S6 is no lightweight, and this is most noticeable when attacking a twisty road. Although steering is crisp, body roll is well controlled and handling is confidence-inspiring, the S6 just doesn't have the nimble feel of its lighter rivals. Around town, the sport suspension calibration gives a stiff-legged ride, quite out of character for an Audi and again not equal to the more forgiving yet still very capable setups of the competition.
Trimmed in leather, aluminum and birch wood accents, the S6's cabin upholds Audi's solid reputation as a builder of some of the finest automobile interiors. The S6's front sport seats are heavily bolstered to provide support during aggressive driving on a twisty road. Available luxury features, such as heated rear seats and power sunshades, provide comfort for those in back as well. A split/folding rear seat with a pass-through provides additional cargo capacity should the trunk's 15.9 cubic feet not be enough.
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Features & Specs
More About This Model
The boys from Ingolstadt have gotten serious with the 2007 Audi S6. Serious, in this case, takes the form of a 435-horsepower (DIN) V10 engine. Serious also means minimal look-at-me external clues and boy-racer add-ons. And serious means seriously fast.
When last we saw an S6 Stateside, it was a 2003 model, which only came here as an Avant (station wagon). The S6 Avant quietly disappeared from the market at the end of that year, even though that generation of A6 continued for another year until the current model was introduced in 2005.
It's all underhood
The heart of this stealth wünderkind comes from nothing less than a supercar. Audi engineers have artfully wedged a version of the Lamborghini Gallardo's 5.2-liter V10 under the new S6's hood. It makes 435 hp (again, that's DIN — the German horsepower standard, which approximates SAE net), peaking at 6,800 rpm, and belts out a similarly massive 398 pound-feet of torque, peaking from 3,000 to 4,000 rpm. Ninety percent of that broad-peak torque is available from 2,300 to 5,000 rpm.
To put that in perspective, the previous S6, with a measly 4.2-liter V8, put out merely 340 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. These numbers are suitable for a premium sedan, but don't really distinguish an "S" model. Audi must have thought so, too, as the 2006 Audi A6 offers a 4.2-liter V8 that puts out roughly the same numbers (335 and 310, respectively).
No U.S. fuel-economy figures are available yet, but the V10's 13.4-liter/100-km fuel consumption is reportedly better than that old S6's V8 as well.
Our autobahn test-drive dreams were partially dampened (pun fully intended) by rain, sleet and snow. Still, the spray wasn't too bad, and stomping on the loud pedal produced impressive acceleration. The S6 wanted to keep running all the way up to its electronic limit of 155 mph, but we simply ran out of visibility. Unsurprisingly, blasting past unsuspecting locals on country back roads was a piece of strudel.
The really cool part was the sound of it. The folks at Audi fully exploit the wonderful and guttural growl that a perfectly balanced V10 can produce. In fact, they employ a "sound pipe" to direct carefully tuned intake noises toward the cabin. The result, when standing on it or just puttering around town, was thrilling. The noises echoing back from the many tunnels on our drive route, especially when we downshifted to bring the revs up, weren't shabby either — much more satisfying than holding our breath or honking all the way through.
Our only complaint is that the electronic throttle is a bit nonlinear and lurchy when trying to accelerate gently from a stop. We see this on a lot of cars with cableless throttles. Engineers just can't resist the temptation to use electronic trickery to make their engine feel more powerful off the line. This V10 thingy is mucho powerful, guys — you don't need to augment it. Make it intuitive.
Even though we had rain for much of the time, we never had any problem putting all of that power to the ground. The standard quattro all-wheel-drive system was, of course, the main help here. The conditions we encountered, combined with all of that V10 power and torque, only cemented our respect for the system.
Of course the Audi S6 was wearing pretty good shoes as well. The Continental 265/35R19 summer tires on our test car looked damn good on their split five-spoke wheels (or is it 10?). And they gripped a ton as well.
We became a bit tentative, however, when temperatures dropped and we started to see snow sticking to the roadside in the upper reaches of the course. We never had any slip or activation of the ESP system, but found it wise that Audi USA will offer the S6 with your choice of summer tires or all-season rubber at no cost differential.
Some of you may complain that this new S6 will not be available with a manual transmission. But take heart, because we found the six-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission to be a good match to this V10.
You can use it three ways. Most of the time, we simply slapped it into "D" and went about our business. Sometimes, when we wanted to downshift in preparation for local-buzzing, we'd use the steering-wheel paddles. After the pass was made and we returned our brain to cruise mode, the tranny would upshift itself back to 6th. But when we wanted total command, we moved the lever to the right of "D" and used the paddles in full manual mode.
Steering at high speeds was direct and confident. Feelwise, it was a bit less stellar in the twisties, but still precise and direct. The chassis was very well balanced, with minimal roll and excellent stability on those lumpy sorts of roads that make other cars twitchy.
But those same lumpy asphalt roads started to be a bit jarring after awhile. It feels a bit too tied down, even for a car with the "S" designation. Sure, damping is great on smoother roads with longer-wave undulations, but we wonder how the busy feel will translate to L.A. freeways and other poor-pavement areas we could name at home.
Looking for exterior styling differences on the S6 was a bit like doing a word-search puzzle. Sure, we found the badges that say "S6" and "V10," but they didn't scream at us. It took a bit longer to find the logo-encrusted titanium trim plates on the upgraded, but not red, front brake calipers. Handsome.
There was a more aggressive front fascia, with a few more square inches of air intake under the lights, a new under-nose duct and a deeper lip. The lower edges of the doors had subtle spats, and the rear cap was tweaked to allow for four chrome exhaust tips.
Some of the more observant locals in the small German villages we drove through noticed the car, but not many. We assume the same would have been true of local law enforcement. Excellent, Smithers.
Inside, Audi's S6 was a decidedly nice place to be. Sure, it had many of the same shapes as the A6, but the materials used looked purposeful and inviting at the same time.
The seats were wonderfully contoured and had a slight, but not overpowering, racing-seat look. They grabbed onto us well, too, thanks in part due to the covering, which was a combination of leather and Alcantara pseudo-suede. It looks striking, and it works. But according to Wolfgang Hoffmann, Audi USA product planning director, American cars will get 100-percent leather seats, due to local market research.
We also liked the tasteful carbon-fiber inserts on the center console and door accents. Silver trim and speaker grilles contrast nicely with the carbon and titanium color of the instrument panel. Wolfgang explained that carbon will be an option, with Birchwood standard.
When can I get mine?
As one might expect with a European first drive, U.S. sales are still a ways off. Audi S6 sales will kick off Stateside in November. Since there are a few months to go, pricing has not been announced, but Wolfgang told us that a typically equipped S6 will probably go slight upward of $75,000. Oh.
Bottom line: The 2007 Audi S6 is a serious sport sedan, with a serious V10 engine in it. It is a well-engineered piece of work — seriously.
Used 2007 Audi S6 Overview
The Used 2007 Audi S6 is offered in the following submodels: S6 Sedan. Available styles include quattro 4dr Sedan AWD (5.2L 10cyl 6A).
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Should I lease or buy a 2007 Audi S6?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.