Will the new V-6 model be powerful enough for the BMW M550i?

The Audi A6 was redesigned in 2018 after six years on the market and now its time for other versions of the sedan to get their official launch. First on the list is the S6, which we began seeing on public roads as a camouflaged prototype in 2017. Come 2018 and the four-door moving closer to an official launch, and we already know a lot of details about it.

The sedan is still hidden under wraps, but as before, the S6 will sport the same styling cues as the A6, but it will feature a slightly more aggressive exterior and a more potent drivetrain. The upcoming S6 is more important than ever to Audi, as both BMW and Mercedes-Benz have solid offerings in this niche in the M550i xDrive and the AMG E53 Sedan, respectively. Will the new S6 have what it takes to give its competitors a run for its money? Let’s find out in the review below.

Updated 06/14/2018: Our spy photographers caught the upcoming Audi S6 out for a new testing session in the heat of the southern Europe regions.

Continue reading to learn more about the upcoming Audi S6.

Spy Shots

June 14, 2018 - Audi S6 caught testing in the heat of the southern Europe regions

2019 Audi S6 Exterior Spyshots
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2019 Audi S6 Exterior Spyshots
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Audi S6 Exterior

  • New design language
  • Sportier bumpers
  • Unique trim
  • New wheels
  • Overall not very different
2019 Audi S6 Exterior Spyshots
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Arguably the most important change up front is the new A8-style grille

Although the test car is heavily camouflaged, we already know how the regular A6 looks like, so the S6 isn’t much of a mystery. Arguably the most important change up front is the new A8-style grille. Just like on the full-size sedan, the previous single-frame grille was replaced by a wider element with sharper edges. The new grille has three horizontal bars on the upper section, three more in the middle section with the plastic background, and one more below that. While the main grille doesn’t have the honeycomb mesh seen on RS models, the side vents in the bumper do have a similar layout.

The headlamps are also based on the A8’s. Not only are they slimmer, but they also sport a more angular design. Paired with the new grille, they give the car a sportier, wider stance. Rounding off the new S6’s front fascia are the splitter-like element at the bottom of the bumper and a more muscular engine hood.

2019 Audi S6 Exterior Spyshots
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The bumper should include a slightly sportier diffuser-like element

There’s nothing much we can see as we move onto the sides, mostly because Audi sedans usually have a featureless profile. Sure, there’s a noticeable beltline that runs just above the door handles, the slightly beefed-up rear haunches, and a sporty pair of side skirts, but the new S6 seems just as understated as its predecessor.

The rear fascia should be very similar to the regular A6, so look for the new, sharp and slim taillights, the chrome strip that runs through them and across the trunk lid, and a small spoiler at the top. The latter could be a bit bigger on the S6, while the bumper should include a slightly sportier diffuser-like element.

All told, the new S6 should provide a great transition between the elegant A6 and the beefed-up RS6 model that will follow.

Audi S6 Interior

  • New high-tech interior
  • Leather upholstery
  • Unique trim
  • Enhanced room front and rear
  • All-digital displays
2016 - 2018 Audi A6 Interior
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A 12.3-inch digital display replaces the traditional analog dials in the dashboard

Our paparazzi couldn’t get close enough to take shots of the interior, but it will be very similar to the latest A6. This is good news though, as Audi updated it to a new dashboard design with the already familiar continuous air vent strip and a big display in the center stack. Another screen placed in the center console cleans the unit of buttons and knobs, giving the interior a more modern look.

The display in the dash will measure 10.1 inches in the diagonal and will include the latest MMI system with navigation and all the cool apps. Below, the 8.6-inch screen will provide access to the climate control system, text input, and other convenience function. The third screen will be placed behind the steering wheel as the company’s Virtual Cockpit. A 12.3-inch digital display, it replaces the traditional analog dials and provides info on speed and navigation. This unit may have different, sportier graphics in the S6.

2016 - 2018 Audi A6 High Resolution Interior
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The sedan should also get the semi-autonomous assistance features of the A6

The sedan should also get the semi-autonomous assistance features of the A6, including the parking pilot, City Assist with crossing assist, and the Tour Assist Package with adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist. Other goodies should include a premium audio system and two interior lighting packages. Of course, the S6 will get extra bits like standard leather upholstery, unique aluminum trim, and maybe even optional carbon-fiber.

Dimension-wise, the S6 will benefit from the A6’s roomier interior. Expect improvements in rear-seat legroom, headroom, and shoulder room front and back. Trunk space will remain unchanged at 18.7 cubic feet, which means you’ll be able to carry two golf bags.

Audi S6 Performance

  • 2.9-liter V-6 engine
  • At least 450 horsepower
  • 0 to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds
  • Standard Quattro AWD
2018 Audi RS5 High Resolution Drivetrain AutoShow
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Note: engine of the new Audi RS5 pictured here.

Audi has downsized a few engines recently, and we could see the V-8 replaced by a smaller, twin-turbo, 2.9-liter V-6

The current S6 is quite the potent sedan thanks to its turbocharged, 4.0-liter V-8, which is rated at 450 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque, but output should see a significant hike for the new model. On the other hand, Audi has downsized a few engines recently, and we could see the V-8 replaced by a smaller, twin-turbo, 2.9-liter V-6.

A similar engine has been introduced for the new RS5. In the coupe, the V-6 cranks out 450 horses and 442 pound-feet. A similar output wouldn’t be much of an upgrade in the S6, but the lighter underpinnings and enhanced aerodynamics should bring significant improvements in the performance department. However, I believe that Audi will squeeze a bit more oomph out of the V-6, probably around 470 horsepower and 460 pound-feet.

With these figures, the improved automatic transmission, and all the enhancements mentioned above, the 0-to-60 mph sprint should drop from 4.4 seconds to a more appealing 4.2 or even 4.1 ticks. Top speed, on the other hand, will remain locked at the usual 155 mph. The S Tronic automatic transmission should be new, while the standard Quattro all-wheel-drive system should come in a revised version compared to the outgoing model. Software tweaks and new electronics will make the new S6 more responsive and agile.

Audi S6 Pricing

2019 Audi S6 Exterior Spyshots
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As with most new-generation vehicles, the upcoming S6 should be a tad more expensive than the outgoing model. With pricing of base A6 likely to increase from $49,900 to almost $51,000, the S6 should fetch around $73,000 or $74,000 before options. The current sedan starts from $71,900 in the United States.

Audi S6 Competition

Mercedes-AMG E53 Sedan

2019 Mercedes-AMG E53 Sedan Exterior
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Before the current-generation arrived, the Audi S6 was often compared to the higher non-AMG trim. But Mercedes too the same route as Audi and launched a model that bridged the gap between the standard E-Class and the beefed-up AMG E63. Dubbed the E43, it was recently replaced by the E53, and the main difference is that it uses a mild hybrid drivetrain. Powered by a version of the twin-turbo, 3.0-liter inline-six engine that was introduced with the latest CLS, the E53 also employs an EQ Boost starter alternator that combined a starter motor and alternator in an electric unit. The engine is rated at 435 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque, while the EQ Boost system adds another 22 horses and 184 pound-feet. This takes total output to 457 horsepower and 568 pound-feet of twist. Sprinting to 60 mph takes 4.4 seconds, while top speed is limited to 130 mph. Pricing is expected to start from around $76,000.

Read our full review of the 2019 Mercedes-AMG E53 Sedan.

BMW M550i xDrive

2018 BMW M550i xDrive High Resolution Exterior
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Just like Mercedes-Benz, BMW also began offering intermediate models to bridge the gap between M and non-M versions. In this case, we’re talking about the M550i. The sedan benefits from the new design language that BMW introduced for 2018, and even though the styling is obviously evolutionary, it’s quite fresh and exudes sportiness and elegance at the same time. While not as mild as the regular 5 Series, the M550i isn’t as aggressive as the M5, which falls right in the S6’s alley. The interior comes with all the goodies available with the 5 Series, including gesture control and a heads up display, and extra equipment such as sports seats, an M Sport steering wheel, and unique door sills. Unlike its competitors, the M550i sports a V-8 under the hood. The twin-turbo, 4.4-liter unit is essentially a detuned version of the M5’s, and it’s rated at a solid 456 horsepower and 480 pound-feet of torque. All this power travels to the wheels through an eight-speed automatic and xDrive all-wheel-drive system, pushing the sedan from 0 to 60 mph in an impressive four seconds. For now, the M550i is the quickest option. Pricing starts from $73,400, so it shouldn’t be much more expensive than the upcoming Audi S6.

Read our full review of the BMW M550i xDrive.

Conclusion

2019 Audi S6 Exterior Spyshots
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While it’s doing pretty well in other segments, Audi is far behind in the midsize market. The A6 is already a few years old, the technology is dated compared to the new Bimmers and Mercs, and the engines are beginning to suffer in the performance department. The new M550i xDrive is also incredibly potent given that it’s not a full-fledged M car, so Audi has a lot of work to do before it launches the S6. But based on what we’ve already seen on the new A8 and the solid drivetrain of the new RS5, I’m confident that the upcoming S6 will at least give the Bimmer a run for its money. It might not be as quick, but it could very well stand out in other departments.

  • Leave it
    • * The M550i xDrive is incredibly quick
    • * Like more expensive than the Mercedes-AMG E43

References

2016 - 2018 Audi A6
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Read our full review on the 2018 Audi A6.

2016 Audi S6 High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the current Audi S6.

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Read more Audi news.

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