“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.”
Vince Lombardi had it right.
On the eve of Super Bowl 50, it’s right that we revisit the wisdom of the legendary Green Bay Packers coach whose name graces the trophy that will go to the winners of Sunday’s milestone battle.
Lombardi’s take on the pursuit of perfection also fits right in with this week’s topic of discussion – the 2016 Audi S6 4.0T quattro sports sedan.
The S6 is based on the German company’s A6, a sedan that’s generated raves from a diverse group ranging from mainstream media, auto pundits and legions of consumers who, like Lombardi, value power, nimbleness and speed.
While even Consumer Reports has declared the A6 its top-rated midsize sedan, the S6 trumps the A6 (please note the little “t”) in all aspects. Audi’s performance enhancement program starts with 450 ponies under its aluminum hood, which empowers the all-wheel-drive sedan to rip from 0 to 60 mph in about 4.5 seconds and top out at 155 mph. (No doubt there’s more on tap, but the U.S. version’s speed is kept in check by governing software). With its seven-speed S tronic automatic transmission, the S6 also manages decent fuel economy for a performance sedan: 18 mpg city and 27 highway. With its 19.8-gallon fuel tank, the S6 has long legs.
But the key to the S6’s magic is its well roundedness. Like an all-pro quarterback who goes on to a stellar sportscasting career, the Audi, while capable of getting rowdy, is also smooth, enlightening and entertaining.
One example – it may roll on big alloy wheels (19 x 8.5-inch are standard; 20 x 8.5 optional) and fat sticky summer tires that make track sessions thrilling and satisfying, but the S6 also never beats up its driver and occupants, thanks in part to its standard, specially calibrated adaptive air suspension. While the system does good things for the center of gravity and body roll, we also applaud Audi for leading the fight against those big ugly gaps between wheel well and the wheel/tire. Straight off the showroom floor, the 2016 S6 sits as low in the weeds as you’ll ever see from a manufacturer. If that sort of attention to detail rocks your boat, you’ll automatically pay close attention to curbs and steep driveways – and loath handing the S6’s key fob over to valets.
The Audi’s solid, comfortable, planted ride also may have something to do with the S6’s heft. Even with lots of aluminum pieces, engine block and heads, the 2016 S6 weighs in at 4,486 pounds, without driver.
That’s heavier than Audi’s Q5 sport ute. Or just 31 pounds lighter than a 2016 Chevrolet Silverado 1500.
Never fear. Audi has the S6’s stopping covered with huge 15.7-inch rotors up front and 14-inchers in the back. The squeeze is provided by branded calipers.
For the 2016 model year, the A6/S6 lineup is refreshed with redesigned grille, headlights, bumpers and LED taillights. Audi tweaked the S6’s twin-turbocharged, direct-injected 4.0-liter V8 for 30 more horsepower and revised software for the Quattro all-wheel-drive’s sport differential is said to heighten response and agility.
But you don’t have to be in hyper mode to reap the rewards of an Audi super sedan that starts at $71,000. The cabin of the 2016 S6 is a joy with power everything, sunroof, a nifty flat-bottom three-spoke multifunction sport steering wheel, aluminum pedals and footrest, 12-way leather sport seats, four-zone auto climate control, navigation and a much-improved, faster infotainment system. Even HomeLink is thrown in, as you have a right to expect at the S6’s lofty price point.
Also baked in to every S6 is occupant protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety bestowed its coveted Top Safety Pick Plus award on the 2016 A6/S6. To qualify for the “plus” bragging rights, the sedan must have Audi’s driver assistance package. This $2,550 option bundles adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go pre-sense plus, active lane assist, top view camera system and high-beam assistance.
At speeds of 15 mph or higher and at distances of up to 650 feet, adaptive cruise control can maintain speed and distance, using video, radar, ultrasound and navigation data. Over 20 mph, pre sense plus can prevent some collisions with objects ahead. Radar and video systems detect slowing traffic and braking and will nag you if you’re tailgating. The brakes will automatically be applied under some conditions. Audi’s pre sense can also warn if your vehicle is about to be rear-ended.
Our S6 also had the sport package ($3,500), which bundles the sport rear differential that helps tame understeer, Audi’s dynamic (speed-sensitive variable) steering and sport exhaust with black tips.
We appreciated the understated, yet sophisticated essence of the S6 but for the extra coin, and given that the V8 exhaust is muffled somewhat by the turbos, the buyer deserves to hear more from those 450 horses. On another aural note, we’d like to see Audi adopt the 2017 Q7’s retro-but-tasteful radio station physical pushbuttons for the A6/S6 family.
We suspect that the great Vince Lombardi would concede that in the pursuit of perfection, a step back can sometimes be an excellent move.
2016 AUDI S6 4.0T QUATTRO
TYPE: Premium sports sedan
BASE PRICE: $70,900
AS TESTED, INCLUDING DESTINATION: $81,275
MAJOR OPTIONS: S6 sport package, $3,500; driver assistance package, $2,550; black optic package, $1,500
DRIVETRAIN: 4.0-liter turbocharged V8; 7-speed s tronic auto; AWD
HORSEPOWER and TORQUE: 450 hp at 5,800-6,400 rpm/406 lb.-ft. at 1,400-5,700 rpm
FUEL: gas, 91 octane; 19.8-gallon tank
EPA ESTIMATED MPG: 18 city / 27 highway
CURB WEIGHT: 4,486 lbs.
SAFETY: NHTSA, five stars; IIHS, Top Safety Pick Plus