From the get-go, the Audi S6 has been designed to be an extra-special variant of the already special Audi A6. To achieve this goal, the S6 was packed with more power, sportier suspension system, as well as performance-biased wheel-and-brake assemblies. It also sported an interior that's dressed to the nines, making the word classy such an understatement.
As the high performance version of the Audi A6, the S6 was introduced in the market shortly after A6's launching. And since it's part of Audi's "S" models, this executive car was equipped with Audi's trademark--the quattro four-wheel drive (4WD) system. The S6 used Audi's Torsen-based permanent 4WD.
1994-1997: The first Audi S6 and the S6 PLUS
The first S6 was made out of Audi's desire to maintain a sports saloon in its lineup. Since it was Audi's first S6 model, this car was commonly called as Ur-S6, from the German word "Ursprünglich", meaning original. This model was offered as both a sedan and an "Avant" or estate/wagon in the European and American markets. In Canada, Australia, and Asia, however, it was available only as a saloon.
In June 1996, the very limited-production S6 PLUS was introduced. It was manufactured only for a year by Audi's high-performance subsidiary, the quattro GmbH. After a total of 952 S6 PLUS produced--97 sedans and 855 wagon--production ended in October 1997.
1999-2003: The Audi S6 quattro
It was in late 1997 when Audi unveiled a new range of Audi A6 models. For this generation, the new S6 model that was launched in 1999 was officially named as the S6 quattro and was marketed as a four-door sedan and a five-door Avant. In North American market, only the Avant bodystyle was offered. Under the hood was a new rubber-hydro mounted 4.2-liter 40-valve V8 that was able to produce 335 bhp and paired with the standard oil-cooled six-speed manual transmission. Production of this generation of S6 stopped in 2003.
Audi also made a high-performance version--the RS 6--from 2002 to 2004. This model was fitted with a twin-turbo version of the 4.2L V8 engine producing 444 bhp. This powertrain was mated with a five-speed tiptronic automatic transmission.
2006-2011: The Audi S6 5.2 FSI quattro
Unveiled at the 2006 North American International Auto Show, the S6 5.2 FSI Quattro came in saloon and Avant body types. This version of S6 was facelifted for the 2009 model year, and in 2010, the S6 received Audi's third-generation MMI electronics controller as well as real-time traffic information.
The RS 6 version for this generation was powered bya 5.0L 90° V10 twin-turbocharged engine featuring a Fuel Stratified Injection (FSI) system and producing 571 bhp. With this drivetrain, it was considered as Audi's single most powerful car.
2012-present: The Audi S6 4.0 TFSI quattro
The S6 4.0 TFSI quattro that was released for 2013 model year got its power from a 4.0L DOHC twin-turbo V8 engine paired with a 7-speed S-tronic Double Clutch Gearbox. This powerful engine is able to crank out 420 hp; fuel economy is assured by a cylinder-deactivation system and a stop-start system.