2013 Audi S6 Quattro review:

2013 Audi S6 is a wolf in sheep's clothing

The S6 comes standard with the Audi Connect telematics system, which connects the infotainment system to the Internet via a built-in 3G connection (with its own SIM card in the dashboard). Via Audi Connect, you can search the Web for destinations with Google Local Search, download weather updates and gas prices, and transform your vehicle into a rolling Wi-Fi hot spot, providing passengers with Internet access for up to eight devices.

You can also pair your Web-connected phone via Bluetooth and give the Audi infotainment system access to its faster Internet connection, while the maps for navigation gain the power to download a Google Maps satellite data overlay. The effect is very cool-looking for passengers, but I'm not sure that this extra functionality is worth the extra load on my phone's data plan.

Audi S6 instrument cluster
In addition to the 7-inch main display, the S6 features a large LCD in the instrument cluster that can display phone, navigation, fuel economy, and audio source data. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

It is worth Bluetooth-pairing your phone to gain access to hands-free calling and stereo audio streaming of music and audio from apps. Audi's system doesn't feature any app integration, so you'll need to use your handset's screen for any functionality beyond basic Play/Pause and Skip.

Other audio sources include USB and iPod connectivity via Audi's proprietary Audi Media Interface connection, a CD/DVD player, an SD card slot, an HDD Jukebox, and AM/FM radio with HD Radio decoding.

Audio from all of these sources is piped through a standard Bose Premium Surround Sound System with 14 speakers and and 630 watts of amplification. It sounds great, but if you're the sort of person who describes yourself as an audiophile, you'll want to at least get the optional Bang & Olufsen Advanced Sound System with 15 speakers and 1,300 watts.

Driver aid tech
Our S6 was equipped with the $2,500 Driver Assistance Package, which upgrades the standard cruise control system with adaptive distance control tech, which can slow the vehicle all the way down to a complete stop to maintain a safe following distance from the car ahead. This system can also restart and stop the vehicle in stop-and-go traffic. This package includes the Audi Pre-Sense Plus collision avoidance system, blind-spot monitoring, and power-folding side mirrors.

Blind spot monitoring on the Audi S6
The Driver Assistance Package adds LEDs to the mirrors that flash brightly when the turn signal is activated with a vehicle in your blind spot. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Give Audi $1,400 more of your hard-earned bucks and the Xenon adaptive HID headlights are replaced with LED headlights with LED daytime running lights. LED lights are brighter, have a sharper cutoff, throwing the light in a more precise pattern, and last the entire life of the vehicle. Plus, they look pretty cool.

Also available is an Innovation Package, which our tester wasn't equipped with. This package adds Active Lane Assist, which helps prevent unintentional drifting out of the lane, Night Vision Assistant with pedestrian detection, a head-up display, and Parking System Plus, which adds top- and corner-view cameras to the standard rearview camera with active trajectory lines and parking-distance sensor.

In sum
The 2013 Audi S6 Quattro bases at $71,900 and is nicely equipped at that price with all of the performance, infotainment technology, and cabin comfort that most drivers will need. Our vehicle also featured the aforementioned Driver Assistance package and LED headlamps. Add $1,075 for our Estoril Blue crystal effect paint, $1,000 for 20-inch alloy wheels with summer tires, $500 for Carbon Atlas inlays, and $895 in destination charges to reach our as-tested price of $79,270.

2013 Audi S6 Quattro
Beneath the S6's conservative design and comfortable ride breathes a very capable sport sedan. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

The obvious competitor to the Audi S6 is the BMW M5, but even that isn't exactly an apples-to-apples comparison. Having driven both, the M5 is significantly more powerful and offers a much more engaging driving experience. If you're looking for a driver's car, the BMW is the obvious choice. However, the Audi is almost as fast (both vehicles offer more performance than you can legally enjoy on public roads), more conservatively styled (a very useful trait for avoiding unnecessary attention from law enforcement), and over $10,000 less expensive than the Bimmer, even when fully loaded with what I feel are superior cabin technology and safety tech packages (which, oddly, makes the Audi something of an $80K bargain). I'd grab the keys to an M5 for a track day in a heartbeat, but for day-to-day living I think I'd prefer the S6.

Tech specs
Model 2013 Audi S6 Quattro
Trim n/a
Powertrain 4.0-liter TFSI V-8, 7-speed dual-clutch S-tronic transmission, Quattro all-wheel drive
EPA fuel economy 17 city, 27 highway, 20 combined mpg
Observed fuel economy 17.1 mpg
Navigation Standard with Audi Connect
Bluetooth phone support Standard
Disc player Single-slot CD/DVD
MP3 player support Standard analog 3.5mm auxiliary input, Bluetooth audio streaming, USB/iPod via Audi Media Interface
Other digital audio SiriusXM Satellite Radio, HD Radio, SD card slot, HDD Jukebox
Audio system 14-speaker Bose surround audio system
Driver aids Optional Driver Assistance package with adaptive cruise control, Audi Pre-Sense collision avoidance system, and blind-spot monitoring
Base price $71,900
Price as tested $79,270

What you'll pay

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