Awesome Audi S6 Is the Car of the Future, Now
Buckle up, because you're about to experience the Audi S6, one of the fastest sedans in the world. Besides its muscular performance, it's bristling with the latest car tech, so advanced that it gives you a hint of what's to come in the future of self-driving cars.
Audi lent us this car for a week, giving us a close-up look at the most advanced technology available in cars, circa mid-2013. The option-packed Audi S6 we tested ($87,720) is not the most expensive car from this upscale German automaker, but it's high enough on Audi's hierarchy to show off the tremendous power and astonishing technology of today's best cars.
At first glance, this ominous black chariot looks like a low-slung, curvy version of your dad's sedan. Don't be fooled. A closer look reveals clues about its true nature. Look how it sits on its haunches ready to pounce, with that Angry-Bird look on its face. Check out the wide track of its fat, low-profile tires, and that little badge on the side that says "V8T." Yes, those are hints that this is most certainly a hungry wolf in an ornery black sheep's clothing.
The S6 also allowed me to plug in my iPhone, giving me control of all of my tunes on board, as well as letting me play Pandora radio. This also allowed the S6 to use my iPhone's LTE network, which is 10 times faster. However, this is not a new feature at all — we have the same iPhone plug-in capability in our 2005 Honda Civic Hybrid.
If you're looking to use apps in the S6, you'll be disappointed. There's no such compatibility here — even the cheapest car we tested, the Chevy Spark, had better app compatibility than this. But perhaps the target audience for this luxo-sport monster doesn't care much about apps. It felt to me like in this context, the S6's smartphone friendliness (along with its other technical niceties) was just enough, offering easy Bluetooth connectivity that lets you upload your phonebook and place hands-free calls using speech recognition.
Another excellent use of speech recognition was the easy access to online points of interest, where you can search Google for restaurants, gas stations and other locations, either nearby or on your programmed route. This felt like science fiction to me, giving me live data from the Internet to assist me in finding anything I wanted in the physical world. Best of all, it was relatively easy to use compared with all of the other touchscreen-based infotainment systems I've tested.
That's not to say the Audi S6's infotainment system is perfect. Discerning someone's conversational meaning is difficult even for humans in a noisy environment, so it's not surprising that speech recognition inside a car barreling down the highway at 70+ MPH might not be completely accurate. But in most cases, inside the S6's exceptionally quiet cabin (even when traveling way beyond any U.S. speed limit), its recognition was just good enough to get the job done.