The Audi A6 is a midsize near-luxury sedan with a reserved demeanor, no nonsense, while offering the features, refinement and safety found on more expensive sedans. Underneath, the A6 is much like the A7, without the passion or athleticism expressed by the A7’s sheetmetal. That’s not the mission of the A6.
The A6 with the passion mission is the S6, having something special under the hood, namely a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 with 450 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque. It’s got quattro all-wheel drive and a seven-speed twin-clutch transmission, an engineering technology where Audi has always been a step ahead.
Standard engine in the A6 is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder making 252 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. It uses either a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission with front-wheel drive, or an 8-speed automatic with quattro all-wheel drive. It gets excellent fuel mileage, EPA rated at 28 Combined miles per gallon.
Quattro is proven, after many years of Audi again being a step ahead in all-wheel drive development. It’s well worth the cost, if inclement weather is in the car’s life.
There’s also a supercharged 3.0-liter V6, making 340 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque, with an 8-speed automatic and quattro. It’s a sweet engine, in a perfect spot between the four-cylinder and V8. It comes with both the Prestige model and Sport model, and works for both.
The only changes for the 2018 A6 are shuffled packages bringing more features at a lower price. The former Competition model becomes the Sport model, with a Competition package available.
The A6 Premium ($49,700) with the turbocharged 2.0-liter engine comes with front-wheel drive or with quattro all-wheel drive ($51,900). Features include Google Earth maps, in-car high-speed data, and Bluetooth audio streaming. Navigation and keyless ignition are standard on all models.
There’s also a Sport model with front-wheel drive ($51,200) or quattro ($53,400), with a flat-bottomed steering wheel and Valcona leather seats.
A6 Prestige ($56,500) comes with the supercharged 3.0-liter V6. There’s also a Sport model with the V6 and quattro all-wheel drive ($58,000).
The S6 is available in Premium Plus ($71,900) and Prestige ($74,400) trim.
The A6 is handsome, if understated. Its roofline sweeps back like a coupe. But it’s starting to show its age, even with LED headlamps. It’s rounded at the corners, and has sharp character lines on the sides, and the huge grille.
The A6 isn’t as stylish as the A7 with its lower roofline. But it can look hot, with the Black Optic package, including 20-inch wheels.
The S6 is sinewy, with a muscular hood bulging with a V8, and black trapezoidal grille. A character line runs along the sides, just under the windowline, and only shows itself in the sun, when wearing light colors. At the rear, there’s a small diffuser that hints at a need for speed, and quad-tipped exhaust ports that fire a V8 bellow into the sky.
The dashboard and instrument panel are low and slim, with a pop-up display screen in the center. The standard S trim spruces up the interior.
The A6 has less room in the cabin than many midsize cars, because its nose is longer and it trunk shorter (with an average 14.1 cubic feet). There’s still good head and legroom, although taller drivers might find their right knee hitting the wide center tunnel.
The front seat is highly comfortable, we like the headrests. Heated and ventilated front seats are available, standard on the Prestige model.
Two six-footers can fit in back, with their knees touching the front seatbacks. The rear seats are highly comfortable; they fold for cargo, but not completely flat.
The fit and finish in the cabin is excellent, as it should be for a fifty-thousand-dollar (starting price) car. There are dozens of joints and seams in the trim and upholstery, it’s not easy to get them all right.
Like other German sedans, small storage bins in the cabin are few, and cupholders are small, although the door pockets have spots for water bottles. The center armrest bin is shallow and the glovebox small.
There’s an available head-up display, showing primarily the car’s speed, near the bottom of the windshield.
The S6 gets contrast stitching and available red hides, with carbon trim.
The A6 performance is solid, admirable, with a good ride. The 2.0-liter turbocharged makes a strong 252 horsepower and super-strong 273 pound-feet of torque, while the 7-speed dual clutch automated gearbox shifts with precision and speed, while being good for fuel mileage.
Quattro uses an 8-speed automatic that we like for its ability to find, hold, and swap gears with ease.
We’ve got a lot of seat time in different versions of the A6, and have found the handling to be consistently adept but uninspired, and short on feedback. The 3.0-liter is more engaging, but still without passion.
The supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 makes 333 horsepower in the Prestige and 340 in the Sport. Its 325 pound-feet of torque gives it oomph. The Competition package adds a sport-oriented rear limited slip differential that we’ve enjoyed on other models.
The S6 offers a lot performance for the $72k price, although it can’t match American iron on that score. Its twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 might be hugely powerful, but it’s also compact, and mounted as far back in the engine bay as possible, for better weight distribution and handling. The cornering is precise, although somewhat disconnected from the road.
Using its 450 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque, the S6 accelerates from zero to sixty in just 4.3 seconds. That’s about the same as its German competitors the Mercedes-AMG E43 sedan and BMW M550i xDrive.
The Quattro in the S6 is 40/60 front-to-rear split. The 7-speed dual-clutch automatic is seamless.
There’s and available sports rear differential that helps the control in turns, but it comes with a dynamic steering package that changes the ratio in a non-progressive and unpredictable fashion. We could do without it. But the rear differential might be worth it.
The 252-horsepower 2.0 turbo is a good engine with a great transmission, while the supercharged 3.0-liter V6 is worth its extra $5k, if you need 340 horsepower. The styling is smooth but dated, and the cabin is a bit small. The S6 throws 450 horsepower at you. It’s fast and handles competently, but there are sedans that are faster and handle better.
Sam Moses contributed to this review, with staff reports.