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Audi S6: The wolf in sheep’s clothing

After spending a week in the 2017 Audi S6, I can now say with complete confidence that the S6 is not only a world-class sport-luxury sedan, but one that I’d characterize as ‘a wolf in sheep’s clothing.’

Based on the delightfully impressive A6 sedan, the S6 looks quite similar. However, it is what you cannot see that earns it the coveted “S” badging. The real joy of S6 begins with what is sitting in its engine bay; a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 engine rated at 450 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque.

The powerful V8 can launch the S6 from 0-60 mph in a blistering 4.4 seconds. And if you take it to the track, S6 has a top speed of 155 mph. Adding to the S6 driving experience is its 7-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission. Power gets directed through Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive system.

The 7-speed automatic transmission delivers smooth, or firm shifts, depending on which driving mode is selected (comfort, auto, dynamic or individual), plus it can be shifted manually via steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

When manually downshifting, the system automatically blips the throttle to provide rev-matching shifts. The “Individual” driving mode lets the driver customize the driving experience to their liking by adjusting between comfortable or more aggressive reactions for the engine and transmission, air suspension system, steering system, and engine sound.

Even though the S6 is a heavy car, weighing in around 4,400 pounds, it is extremely fun to drive. There is a bit of understeer when taking corners at speed, but not enough to be a deal-breaker when you consider all that S6 has to offer.

The S6 cabin is luxurious and loaded with technology. Inside, you will find fine leather upholstery, beautiful wood trim, a sporty instrument cluster, a gorgeous flat-bottomed leather-wrapped sport steering wheel, and a 14-speaker Bose surround sound audio system.

My 2017 Audi S6 tester added an Alcantra headliner ($3,000), a Prestige Package ($3,200) and a few other upgrades, including an Arras red interior with red carbon twill decorative inlays.

The Prestige Package adds LED headlights, LED interior lighting, head-up display, power-operated trunk, power rear sunshade and manually operated rear side window sunshades.

My tester’s diamond-stitched red leather seats looked especially sporty, in addition to being very supportive and quite comfortable.

Up front there was plenty of room for my tall frame, but with the front seat near its rear-most position, there is not much leg room for rear passengers.

The S6 is a five-passenger vehicle, but due to a high center floor hump, there is no leg room for a rear middle row passenger. I do like that the rear seatbacks fold down to accommodate long cargo items.

Push the start button and S6’s powerful V8 engine comes to life — and a nifty display screen folds out from the top center of the instrument panel. Unfortunately, this display screen is not a touchscreen. Screen functions are controlled by Audi’s console-mounted MMI controller, which is fairly intuitive.

For 2017, the S6 is mainly unchanged, save for a new Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration system. The S6 is a wonderful car to drive. I like how it provides a comfortable ride for commuting or long trips. Or, it can dialed-up for more engaging and spirited driving when the road permits.