Audi S6 2013: Road Test

11 Jun 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Audi S6 2013: Road Test
Audi S6

Audi S6

2013: Road Test

Audi’s A6-based V8 sporting sedan offers a gripping experience

Audi S6

Road Test

Price Guide (recommended price before statutory delivery charges): $168,900

Options fitted to test car (not included in above price): N/A

Crash rating: Five-star EuroNCAP

Fuel: 95 RON PULP

Claimed fuel economy (L/100km): 9.6

CO2 emissions (g/km): 225

You really want to get the S6? Then take it to a road where straights link medium speed corners and let rip. The car just flows.

Quattro all-wheel drive grip ensures as much of the 4.0-litre Biturbo V8’s power as you want is transmitted to the road without being sacrificed to wheelspin.

There are many faster cars than the S6 of course. In these days of Veyrons, LaFerraris and 430kW Holdens (well, the HSV GTS), its 309kW and 550Nm is not that special. Indeed, its kilowatt count is actually down 11 compared the Lamborghini V10 that powered its predecessor, although torque is up 11Nm and delivered across a vastly wider range.

Acceleration from 0-100km/h also dips from 5.2 seconds to 4.6 as part of the deal.

The flipside of the performance equation is fuel economy and the new S6 claims 9.6L/100km, down 25 per cent from the old V10. It achieves that with the help of cylinder on demand, which turns the V8 into a V4 in certain light throttle situations, and idle stop-start. In the real world, we managed 12.7L/100km, which isn’t especially good.

But the real world has its advantages too, especially the way the S6 manages its outputs. That’s what really grabs your attention. You jet forward and suddenly your favourite road doesn’t feel quite so familiar anymore.

That’s because the S6 has such good traction it propels along the straight bits fast enough to catch you by surprise when the next curvy bit arrives.

Most other things about this car don’t reach those adrenalised heights. It looks too much like the A6 it is based on for a start, only few key details like the aluminium mirror housings, platinum grey grille, 20-inch alloy wheels and a lip spoiler on the bootlid giving it away.

Inside it’s also very much familiar, although we can live with that given the high quality of Audi interiors. The ambient lighting package, carbon-fibre inlays, leather trim for the sports seats including S6 embossing and a rather decadent looking pleating in the centres are unique touches.

Then there’s the lack of noise that mighty V8 makes. Cup your hand to your ear and flatten the throttle and you’ll hear it, but not loud enough. It sounds like distant rolling thunder, but I’d prefer it to be closer by.

And what happens when the engine has rushed you quickly and too quietly to that next bend? Not a lot really. It’s too heavy at near-on two tonnes to enjoy the really tight stuff, preferring more open roads.

It is determinedly distant in any Drive Select mode you care to choose. In the sportiest Dynamic mode, the electro-mechanical steering becomes too heavy without really feeling more direct — or feeling anything really. The S-tronic dual-clutch seven-speed transmission starts shifting really aggressively and the adjustable air suspension hammers across the bumps.

Audi S6

You can get around the transmission issue by operating the ’box manually via the paddle shifters or shift lever and you can individualise settings so the throttle and rear sports diff (for instance) stay in dynamic mode while the air suspension system is in comfort. You lose a little body control that way but gain a whole lot of ride quality on those big wheels.

What you don’t gain is a diminution of the tyre roar the Pirelli P Zeros set up. On Aussie coarse surfaces they are a pain in the eardrum. What shred of engine noise you can hear is drowned out.

Mind you, there are some clever technologies that do improve the cabin ambience. Active engine mounts cancel out the vibrations set up when the V8 drops back to four-cylinder mode and counter-balancing noises issued from the speakers also wash out the less pleasant note the ‘V4’ produces.

Apart from the tyre roar so much about occupying the S6 is high quality; the superb front S-Sports seats are power adjustable with electric lumbar support, extendable thigh supports and memory function on the driver’s side. The sprawling space in the back for two passengers (a third can fit in the middle but the transmission tunnel is intrusive) is impressive, as is the 535 litre boot, which expands to 995 litres with the rear seat folded down.

The cabin and dashboard layout is typical Audi. Lovely materials backed up by an attractive, ergonomically impressive design and high build quality. There can be a bit of information overload though, with all the usual buttons and dials added to by a head-up display and 8.0-inch monitor that comes gliding out of the centre stack.

The equipment level is pretty strong, which is as you would expect for car costing $168,900, which commendably is a cut of around $30,000 compared to the old car that was retired in 2011. Standard gear includes a powered bootlid, LED headlights with high beam assist, electric glass sunroof, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and start, BOSE 14-speaker audio which can pump out music via iPod, aux, MP3 or Bluetooth connection, satnav and digital TV reception, those leather S-Sports seats and a space-saver rear tyre.

Audi has adopted an intriguing marketing approach for the S6 and its non-identical twin, the S7 Sportback, by calling them limited editions and offering only 50 examples in Australia. Stock is running out apparently, but we fancy Audi Australia will probably ship a few more in if there is demand.

And surely there will be. The S6 sits in a pocket of the market which its regular rivals BMW and Mercedes-Benz leap-frog. This is a halfway house between standard and full-bore and no-one else really goes there.

Benz doesn’t offer a V8 E-Class, except for the AMG, and the CLS 500 is way more expensive. The BMW 550i is the closest rival.

We could easily argue for the S6 in such a comparison. It has its limitations as a hard-charging sports sedan, but as an all-rounder that offers a gripping experience, it does very well.

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Published. Thursday, 26 September 2013

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