2011 Audi S6 Expert Review

You'll Like The 2011 Audi S6 If...

If you want a daily driver that can deliver a calm ride to work and a high-performance character when pushed, you'll be amazed by how this 2011 Audi A6 balances these seemingly-incongruent traits.

You May Not Like The 2011 Audi S6 If...

If all-out power or race car moves are your goal, the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG or BMW M5 might be more to your liking.

What's New

There are no major changes for 2011 as the A6/S6 lineup awaits a 2012 redesign.

Interior Features

Audi is known for modern, stylish, high-quality interiors and the S6 is no exception. The standard wood trim is attractive and the available carbon fiber is both good-looking and appropriate for a car with the S6's sporty intentions. The same goes for the sport bucket seats, which are supportive during hard cornering. Audi's standard MMI central control system – which handles the entertainment, communication, navigation and climate controls – is among the more intuitive of these systems on the market today, but it can complicate some controls and take a little time to learn.

Exterior Features

Versus the more subtle A6, the 2011 Audi S6 has some slightly more aggressive styling elements. The bolder front end is highlighted by a uniquely-styled grille and very distinctive LED daytime running lights placed in the lower air intakes. The LEDs also act as fog lights. Along the sides, the S6 features V10 badges, aluminum-look mirrors and unique 19-inch wheels. At the rear, the S6 has a tastefully-integrated rear spoiler and quad exhaust tips.

Driving Impressions

In a class with high-strung rivals, the 2011 Audi S6 feels almost laid back. The BMW M5 is harder-edged and the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG has neck-snapping power. The S6, on the other hand, is amazingly fast but with an effortless feel. As a result, the S6 inspires confidence and is a particularly satisfying partner on public roads. Both the steering and braking have a responsive, natural feel, and the quattro all-wheel drive system contributes to balanced handling. The sporty suspension tuning does make the S6 harsher over bumps and slightly more fidgety on the highway than the A6, but we would still be happy to drive the S6 coast-to-coast.

Pricing Notes

The 2011 Audi S6's Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) begins around $78,000 with both the gas-guzzler tax and destination charge included. The Fair Purchase Price on kbb.com reflects real-world transaction prices nearly equal to the sticker price, probably due to a limited supply. BMW M5 pricing starts at just over $85,000 and ranges to more than $100,000, with the Mercedes-Benz E63 slightly above that range. As for resale value, we expect the S6 to command a better percentage than the BMW but not do as well as the Mercedes.

Notable Equipment

The 2011 Audi S6 comes very well equipped. Standard equipment includes leather upholstery, a Bose sound system, heated front and rear seats, sunroof, Bluetooth phone connectivity, a hard drive-based navigation system with 40 gigabytes of memory, Sirius Satellite Radio and keyless access and starting. Sporty features include front and rear electronically locking differentials, a sport-tuned suspension and 19-inch wheels. Standard safety features over and above the norm include reverse parking sensors, a rearview camera and adaptive high intensity discharge headlights that point into turns.

Notable Options

Optional features on the 2011 Audi S6 consist of black Milano leather upgrade, rear side airbags, Audi Side Assist lane-change assistant and smaller 18-inch wheels on summer performance tires.

Favorite Features

LED Daytime Running Lights

Audi was among the first to use LEDs as a styling element. On the S6, low-set bright white LED daytime running lights are grouped in two rows of five to represent the V10 engine within. They give the S6 one of the most distinctive faces on the road.

V10 Engine

We like the 5.2-liter V10's smooth and willing power delivery, as well as the unique sounds it makes. Mercedes gets as much power with more brute force out of a V8, but the S6's V10 is a conversation starter.

Under the Hood

The mid-size S6 is powered by a slightly less-powerful version of the direct-injected V10 engine found in the cars' corporate cousin, the Lamborghini Gallardo. Paired with a six-speed automatic transmission with manual-shift capability, the 2011 Audi S6 can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds and top out at an electronically-limited top speed of 155 mph. The S6 also comes standard with Audi's 40/60 rear-biased quattro all-wheel drive system, along with more aggressive suspension tuning, bigger brakes and a more direct steering ratio than the A6.

5.2-liter V10

435 horsepower @ 6800 rpm

398 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3000-4000 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/21

Editors' Notes

With attractive, consistent designs and world-class luxury, Audi is posing an increasing challenge to BMW, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz. The same goes for its S line of performance cars, which compete against BMW's M cars, Mercedes' AMG models and the Lexus F series. The 2011 Audi S6 is a prime example of Audi's luxury and performance prowess. Though not as silky-smooth as the mainstream A6 on which it's based, and not as much of a track hero as the BMW M5 or the similarly-priced Porsche 911, the S6 offers world-class luxury and performance in one sexy package.

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