S6

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2021 Audi S6 Overview

Critics complain that the Audi S6 looks too understated, forgetting that some people don’t want to be noticed for what they’re driving. After all, there’s a reason a gray suit is still a classic. And with the 2021 S6 adding Audi’s Virtual Cockpit as a standard feature, there’s another reason to fall in love with this modest machine.

Virtual Cockpit isn’t the only addition this model year. The S6 now gets 21-inch wheels with summer tires as standard equipment, and some carbon-fiber trim to jazz things up a bit. Plus, if you go for the Premium Plus trim level, the optional Executive Package adds adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist to its list of features.

But don’t let that standard safety features allow you to get complacent behind the wheel. Though many will lament the loss of the old 4.0-liter V8, the 444 horsepower you get from the twin-turbocharged 2.9-liter V6 in today’s S6 is nothing to sneeze at. A 48-volt mild-hybrid system fills in any power gaps and helps propel the not-so-svelte sedan from zero to 60 in a claimed 4.4 seconds (though real-world numbers will likely end up even lower). With an eight-speed automatic transmission, you can expect fuel economy to come in at an estimated 18 mpg city, 28 mpg highway, and 22 mpg combined—a significant improvement over the old V8.

Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive system keeps things composed, sending power to all four wheels, and if things aren’t nimble enough for you in standard form, you can upgrade the adaptive air suspension with an optional rear-wheel-steering system to help liven things up when the road gets twisty. Still not enough? The S Sport suspension will dial things in even further.

The Premium Plus is the entry-level trim, offering a nice list of standard features including four-zone automatic climate control, sunroof, ambient lighting, leather, heated front seats with 12-way power adjustment, a power-adjustable heated steering wheel, and 20-inch wheels wrapped in sport tires. A 10.1-inch touchscreen handles tech duty, while audio is managed through a 16-speaker Bang & Olufsen stereo.

Standard safety features include parking sensors front and rear, a 360-degree camera, lane-departure warning, and forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking. To get fully equipped, the aforementioned Executive Package should round things out nicely.

Physically, there’s no difference between the S6 and the A6, so you’ll enjoy the same room and cargo capacity—13.7 cubic feet in the trunk—things will just look a bit sportier here. And if you’re looking to lose a bit of that understated reputation, a Black Optic Package will get you blacked-out trim and 21-inch wheels. However, it’s the S Sport Package where a lot of people will find themselves, with its rear-wheel steering, sport exhaust and differential, and the holy grail of performance—red brake calipers.

And while it may not be as fast as a BMW M550i, The S6’s A6 stablemate was named a Top Safety Pick+ by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), as long as you click all the safety boxes, that is. In all, the S6 offers a classic alternative to the competition, with a no-muss-and-no-fuss approach that’s kept it popular.

Updated

A CarGurus contributor since 2008, Michael started his career writing about cars with the SCCA - winning awards during his time as editor of Top End magazine. Since then, his journalistic travels have taken him from NY to Boston to CA, completing a cross-country tour on a restored vintage Suzuki. While his preference is for fine German automobiles - and the extra leg room they so often afford - his first automobile memories center around impromptu Mustang vs. Corvette races down the local highway, in the backseat of his father's latest acquisition.

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