Mark Twain once suggested that the reports of his death had been grossly exaggerated. It’s the same with the four-door sedan.
Yes, SUVs and crossovers have decimated sedan sales. But for a loyal group of followers—me included—the appeal of a sexy-looking, lowish to the ground, four-door is just as strong.
This was brought home after a joyous week piloting the performance S6 sedan from Audi. Priced from just under $74,000, this deliciously powerful 444-horsepower rocket ship is one of the sweetest-driving vehicles you can buy.
No, it’s not the latest and greatest sports sedan out there. Its current form has been around since 2020, and the S6 badge actually dates back to 1995.
And during its long evolution, it’s been offered in more iterations than an iPhone. Highlights included the thundering 435 horsepower Lamborghini V10 version offered from 2007 to 2011, and the 450 horsepower 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 version from 2014 to 2018.
Today, the S6 comes with a potent twin-turbocharged 2.9-liter V6 under the hood. With mild-hybrid assist, it packs a combined 444 horsepower and muscley 443 pound-foot of torque.
That’s enough to punch it from green light to 60 miles per hour in just 4.4 seconds, and take it to a 155 miles per hour top speed on the Autobahn.
But just standing still, this S6 looks like it’s rushing along at 100 miles per hour. And that, to me, is much of the appeal of this full-bodied Audi.
I love the towering waistline and the elegant curve of the roofline, the steep angle of the windshield and muscular haunches over the wheels.
And talking of wheels, these 21-inchers are nothing less than automotive art, with their turbine-like blades featuring a distinctive 3-D pattern.
No, that mass of dull black plastic that makes up the grille is not my favorite. Regular A6 models, with their contrasting brighter-metal ring around the grille and hexagon shapes inside, are more distinctive.
Inside, it’s pure sports sedan, with super-supportive front bucket seats, a wide center console and a flat-bottomed steering wheel that could have come out of an Audi Le Mans racer.
The quilted leather with contrasting red stitching for both front and rear seats, with swaths of carbon fiber on the dash and doors, really sets the Audi apart.
Slide into the back seat and you’ll find acres of legroom and headroom, while for the driver, the highish roofline and slim roof pillars provides tremendous all-round visibility.
In typical minimalist Audi fashion, three digital screens take care of instrumentation. The 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster behind the wheel still sets the standard in terms of clarity and configurability.
Press that red “Start” button, pull back that lovely T-shifter into drive, and the S6 feels every bit the performance sedan it is. For added fireworks, dial-up “Dynamic” mode and pour on the power.
It feels genuinely quick, with instant, off-the-line urgency and strong mid-range thrust for rapid passing and safe freeway merging. And the twin-turbo V6 delivers its impressive power with silky-smooth refinement.
Through the curves, the S6 always feels more agile, nimbler, and just plain more athletic than any tall-riding SUV. What I love is how the sedan shrinks in size from behind the wheel, never feeling big or bulky.
With standard Quattro all-wheel drive, adaptive air suspension, and steering that feels surgically precise, the S6 is a joy to drive. Couple these with one of the most intuitive, smooth-shifting eight-speed automatics around, and the Audi never feels anything less than playful.
Of course, the S6 isn’t without rivals. BMW’s M550i and Mercedes-AMG’s E53 are fresher designs with more power, though at a higher price. And arguably the S6’s biggest competitor is Audi’s own S7, with its sexier four-door coupe design, plus the extra versatility of a tailgate.
That said, there’s just so much to love about this S6, and the timeless elegance of a four-door sedan body style will always get my vote.