Audi S6 Review
The 2013 Audi S6 offers some serious thrust from its V8 motor which outdoes the old car’s V10 unit.
If one looks at the present Audi line-up carefully, it’s quite clear that the A6 mid-sized sedan has been lavishly pampered by its creator. In fact it gets a package deal drawing expertise from models like the beautiful fastback styled A7 to the top-of-the line A8. Meanwhile, in emerging markets like India, Audi’s line-up of S models is growing, and soon each ‘S’-badged model is expected to carve its own place. Audi takes the “A” models’ rich mix of virtues and turns it lethal and why not? We are aware that in global markets of the four models sold with the new twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8, the range topping 420 HP S7 is the beauty with brains, while the 520 HP S8 sits on the top with lots of mind boggling features. With this arrangement in the line-up, it leaves the four-door S6 as the serious performance sedan.
Since these cars are engineered with similar specifics in mind, hence many components and technologies are shared under the skin. Technically, the S6 is identical to the S7, but thanks to the lack of a hatch and its slightly more compact dimensions, the S6 is lighter by 4 kgs, and another difference is that it has a slightly narrower track. The chassis components are identical, however, and so are the engine and the transmission. While the A6 and S6 have same body shells and profiles, it’s the detailing that helps the models to be differentiated. At 4931 mm, the S6 is 16 mm longer than the A6 and besides the S6 badging, the car is distinguished from the conservatively styled A6 sedan with a unique platinum-coloured grille, horizontal elements in the front air intakes, aluminum mirror caps, a rear lip spoiler, and four exhaust outlets. The front intakes are surrounded by an additional red coloured strip that follows their outer contour and signature adaptive LED headlamps.
Inside, the story is familiar with top notch design, build quality and finishes which are also characterized by sporty elegance. To remind you that this is the Audi S6, there are dedicated logos on the key, base of the leather sport steering wheel which comes with coloured stitching and aluminium shift paddles as well as on the main instrument cluster. The illuminated door sill trims and both displays (MMI and driver information system) greet the driver with the S6 logo. A red ring adorns the start-stop button, an aluminium clasp the selector lever. The footrest, pedals and soft keys of the MMI operating system shine in an aluminium finish.
Height-adjustable sport seats with power lumbar supports and embossed S logos are standard. Head and legroom are quite good and so is all round visibility. Among the upgraded or new features in the S family is the parking system with 360° camera. Other gadgets that will delight include a WiFi router option that turns the S6 into a mobile hotspot and a navigation system with touchpad and handwriting recognition. The car’s Wi-Fi uses a 3G connection and adds Google Earth data to the navigation system while also providing simplified Google search for POIs.
Under the aluminium and steel body are several new technologies and one aspect about the badging and its relation to technology I’d like to clear on the onset. The TSFI type (Turbo Stratified Fuel Injection) engine is same for both A6 and S6 models, but unlike the supercharged 3.0-litre V6 in the A6, the V8 uses two turbochargers. Audi in particular doesn’t offer differentiation when it comes to classifying turbo or supercharging. Why, we don’t know and while both represent force feeding systems, their respective application and efficacies are quite different in the A6 or S6. The forced fed V8 in the S6 produces 420 HP at 6400 RPM and an impressive 550 Nm of torque. Most of the torque is available from as low as 1400 RPM all the way up to 5200 RPM. The power is put through a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission and a rear-biased all-wheel-drive quattro system.
Interesting fact about the twin turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 vs 5.2-litre V10 normally aspirated engine which was used in its immediate predecessor is that although the V10 was more powerful (belting out 435 HP) and was capable of sending a chill down your spine simply from its F1-like exhaust note, the new V8 is no less of a performer. It does emit an exhaust menacing growl but doesn’t quite match up to the raging V10 but is more pleasant. On the positive side the new downsized engine is not only a bit more torquey but also more efficient by a whopping 25 percent, according to Audi and the bonus is that it’s also much quicker. The S6 is supposed to be a very efficient performance sedan, thanks to low engine friction and cylinder deactivation which helps in fuel economy also. On the performance arena, the S6 will do the 0 to 100 km/hr sprint in 4.8 seconds (5.4 seconds in the outgoing edition). The electronically governed top speed of 250 km/hr is just a formality, says Audi.
A welcome feature is that Audi’s drive select driving dynamics system now comes standard in the S6 which involves integrating several performance attributes. Among other jobs it is programmed to do, it modifies the characteristic of the throttle pedal, the shift points of the S tronic transmission, the servo boost of the electromechanical steering and also the characteristic of the adaptive air suspension. The system is simple to use and allows the driver to adjust the operation in five stages. As an open modular system, it allows the optional sport differential and the dynamic steering (which varies its ratio as a function of speed) to be integrated as part of the system. All this means that the driver can specifically dial-in the character of the car he wants on will.
As always the level of standard safety equipment on the Audi S6 is pretty high and includes anti-lock disc brakes, stability control, front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and front knee airbags. Rear side airbags, blind-spot and lane departure systems are optional, as is the Audi Pre-Sense Plus system which can warn the driver and automatically activate the brakes and adjust the front seats for maximum protection if a crash is deemed imminent. In crash testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in the US, the similar A6 on which the S6 is based received the highest possible rating of “Good” in the frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength tests.
Driving Impressions – The Audi S6 has got most of the ingredients packaged under one roof to qualify it as a true sporty and spirited sedan. And in that respect it doesn’t disappoint. As engaging as it can be, on the road, the S6 is an inexhaustible cannon with its combination of super torque from the twin-turbo V8 despite its longer wheelbase, less front weight bias, and less overall mass.
Combine an unflappable chassis, accurate steering, ample power and a general sense of quality and you have an unbeatable luxury/sports-car range which makes the new Audi S6 more of an enthusiastic driver’s car than its predecessor. Although it is a big car, power delivery is silky smooth in all rev ranges and the compliant gearbox offers swift up shifts like a sports car. In fact, the only other Audi that comes to mind in terms of engaging transmission performance is the manual TT RS. Well, once again Audi has proven that its automatic transmissions are actually faster than the manuals!
The electromechanical power steering is surprisingly pleasant, light but progressive and well weighted with sharp turn-in. The optional torque-vectoring sport differential adds some weight but offers extra agility that ambitious drivers will be keen to experience. Grip from the Bridgestone Potenza tyres are pretty good and keep up with the highly agile chassis which loves to be thrown about and overall makes it so easy to drive to the limit.
We feel that the use of air suspension has helped take away much of the road harshness (which is the price you pay for having low-profile tyres) and the engine’s cylinder-deactivation system works so silently and transparently that you’re not even aware about it. One does get pleasantly surprised when you discover the actual fuel economy range.
Verdict – This isn’t the most hard-edged sports sedan, but its balance of comfort and sporting aggression is commendable. With the 2013 Audi S6, Audi has virtually reinvented its line of S-equipped models, and takes the middle order route of splitting the difference between the pure performance of BMW M and the refinement of Mercedes-Benz AMG.