► First drive of 2015 facelifted car
► Modest style change, 30bhp more
► The ultimate Q-car wagon?
Mid-life refresh time for the Audi A6, which means the brawny S6 gets to enjoy a few updates of its own. Minor styling tweaks include meaner-looking LED headlights and altered air intakes carved into re-profiled bumpers, but comparing old with new is a pretty tough game of spot-the-difference.
Click here for our review of the Audi A6, in diesel-supping eco Ultra guise.
So what’s new on the 2015 Audi S6?
More likely to capture attention is the hike in power. As before, the engine bay’s generously filled out by a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 with fuel-saving cylinder-on-demand tech. Audi’s engineers have liberated another 30bhp to bump its total up to 444bhp, while somehow simultaneously lowering CO2.
It’s hardly surprising they’ve unlocked more power so easily: with everything turned up to 11 in the RS6, the same unit churns out 552bhp.
Click here for CAR magazine's Audi RS6 long-term test review (2015).
Either saloon or Avant (Audi-speak for estate) variants of the S6 can be had, and both have their own appeal. The saloon has a getaway-car vibe that’s undeniably alluring, but there’s something cooler in the contrast between the Avant’s B&Q-friendly bodywork and the epic performance concealed therein.
How does the S6 Avant drive?
It’s softly spoken, this fast estate. Though the V8 has a nice woofly note, it’s surprisingly quiet even when augmented by toggling Dynamic mode in the Drive Select menu. We also tried an S6 saloon with the optional sports exhaust, which yields a great deal more passenger-impressing volume as a result.
Trousers match the mouth, as the S6’s acceleration is addictive. It’s not physics-defyingly rapid like the RS6, but strong enough to give your neck muscles a workout nonetheless. There’s no let-up in pull as the speed builds, just a gentle but insistent push in the back like sitting on board a passenger jet on take-off. Under deceleration and cornering the sheer mass involved begins to tell – this is a big, heavy car – but it’s grippy and confidence inspiring, if not the most involving.
And the handling?
Our car had the Dynamic Steering option which remains a bit horrible, weighting up artificially beneath your hands in a way that does nothing to enhance the driving experience and frankly just feels odd.
When it’s not covering ground incredibly quickly, the S6 Avant does a fantastic job of being a normal car. The standard adaptive air suspension makes for a genuinely comfy ride, and the seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox runs through the gears so smoothly you’ll barely notice it at work.
The metal paddles behind the wheel feel great too, part of an interior with as epic a standard of fit and finish as you’d expect. There’s now a smarter instrument panel with crisp sat-nav graphics nestling between the dials, and the cabin’s quieter than ever with noise-deadening acoustic glazing.
Our car was decorated with flawlessly woven carbonfibre dashboard panels and quilted leather seats that looked like they’d been borrowed from Thunderbird 2. Fitting given the palm tree-flattening acceleration on tap.
No massive changes then, but the S6 Avant remains a rapid, refined and very likable superwagon.