Used car buying guide: Audi S6

The hot A6 executive car is a great choice for those who don’t want to be stung by the RS-badged rangemates. However, it doesn’t come without its problems.

The RS4 below and the RS6 above it made the S6 last a while. It wasn’t as enjoyable to drive or as well solved as its more desirable rangemates so it faded into the background as a regular Audi saloon with a V10 engine. Even though the most basic mechanical repairs are likely to make them bankrupt, it’s still a great car for driving on the autobahns of Germany.

Although the S6 was originally priced at PS55,000, you can now get a high-mileage, early example starting at PS7000. However, we wouldn’t recommend that you do so without having it checked by an expert. The S6 novice will be caught in the headlights by clogging intake manifolds, leaking exhausts, and coked-up valves.

You’d be foolhardy to think it was an Audi A6, but closer inspection shows that the badges are discreetly labelled ‘S6’ front and back, and, more satisfyingly, on the front wings, ‘V10’ badges. Each side has daytime running lights, which are integrated into the quad exhaust pipes.

The 429bhp V10 engine’s 5.2-litre V10 produces 398 lbft at 3000-4000 rpm. This is a high output engine compared to today’s turbo engines. The quattro drivetrain, like the RS4, sends 60% to the rear wheels and the rest to front. The quattro system was upgraded to the Torsen T-3 limited slip diff in 2007. The six-speed Tiptronic gearbox features paddle shifters and is solid as a rock. The brake discs have ventilated rear and front. At 385mm, the fronts are impressive. Although the model received a minor facelift in 2009, it was mainly cosmetic. However, the arrival of the RS6 in 2008 had already started to reduce S6 sales. The S6 was also available in an estate or Avant form. There are slightly fewer S6 Avants available today than there are saloons. Both are roughly the same price, but the Avant has a 1660-litre boot and is more practical.

Autocar’s reviewer was not impressed by the S6. The engine felt “neutral of its true potential” (0-62mph, 5.2sec) and it just wasn’t cutting it. They also noted that the car’s ride was too firm and revealed every surface irregularity. If your S6 feels exactly the same, it is likely that its suspension bushes and springs are still in good condition. Our reviewer was positive about the quattro 4-wheel drive system’s security. Although it is a large car, it should be able to brake smoothly and straight.

The S6 owners have never owned a S6 without it. The standard kit includes 19-inch alloy wheels, bixenon headlights to track corners, leather seats, and tinted glasses. There were many options, including carbonfibre interior trim and larger 20in wheels. A full service history is the best option today. Although many S6 sellers claim that their car has one of these, you should not make a decision until you have reviewed every invoice and stamp.

How to get one in your Garage

A view from an expert

Martin Adams, Director and Founder, Unit 20

The S6 is a great car, but it was left behind by the RS6. Although its 5.2-litre V10 engine is incorrectly linked to V10s in the RS6 or Lamborghini Gallardo, it has very little in common with them. Although it’s reliable, parts can be expensive so the ‘cheap S6’ you find might not be as affordable to buy. The cost of the spark plugs, coil packs, and injectors is PS240. The cost of each front brake disc is approximately the same. While rust is not an issue, it can be costly to repair or replace. The interiors of these cars are sturdy and reliable, but the technology is outdated.

Buyers beware

EngineOil services are available every 10,000 miles, or for 12 months. Carbon fouling can cause valves to become clogged. This can only be fixed by expensive dismantling. The engine’s four timing chains are located at the back, making it very difficult to remove and replace them. Although the timing chains are reliable, plastic guides and tensioners may fail. Older cars are more susceptible to injector problems and it is expensive to replace all 10. Feel free to run issues at speed during the test drive – the variable length manifolds can have a tendency break apart inside.

Exhaust:It is difficult to repair a complex system that fails. Leakage from corrosion can cause Flexi-joints to fail.

TransmissionAlthough it’s sealed for life, experts recommend changing the fluid and filter once every 40,000 miles.

Brakes, suspension, and tyresWhile alloy suspension parts are strong, bushes can become tired. It will make a huge difference to have them replaced. Brake parts can be expensive, so avoid worn pads and lipped discs. Nonpremium, mixed tyres indicate that servicing and maintenance has been cut.

Body:When they are not properly maintained, S6s will rust. You should check for excess spray under the window rubbers, and mismatched fixings on your bonnet slam panel or wings. Shutlines should not be less than a millimetre in length. Check the boot floor for any dampness.

InteriorS6s conceal mileage well, so make sure that pedals and steering wheels match the car’s mileage.

It is also worth knowing

An S6 used that has been serviced properly should have few problems. However, you may want to consider an extended warranty. Audi offers 12-month all-component coverage with a PS250 excess, and an annual limit 10k miles. The price is PS2186. It is expensive but it is comprehensive.

How much should you spend?

PS7000-PS8499Private-sale saloons that have had a lot of mileage and many former keepers. However, there are some good deals.

PS8500-PS10.99:You will find nicer cars like this 2006 private saloon with 96k mile and FSH for PS8995.

PS11,000-PS12,000.Later, cars in excellent condition with less than 100k miles and still in great shape.

PS13,000-PS14.999These cars are the best with around 80,000 mi and solid histories. This includes a 2008-reg saloon, with 81,000 miles, and an Audi service history.

One that we found

Audi S6 5.2 V10 Quattro, 2008, 130,000 miles, PS7999

The car is clean and unmolested. We’d like to see the invoices for any work that was done. It had an intake Terraclean recently to remove carbon deposits.

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