Audi A6 was one car that didn’t have to try too hard to get into my ‘best drives of 2012’ list. As I stepped on the sporty pedals of the S6, I found the car coaxing myself once again in its new avatar, to kick every other consideration out to be the top pick of this season.
THE UPSIDE: Quick and efficient engine, smooth shifts with minimal torque steer, luscious interiors, generous boot
THE FLIPSIDE: Firm ride, road noise at high speeds, electronic intervention governs the fun quotient
The Price: AED 297,000 onwards – 5 year service and 3 year warranty standard
Absolute exhilaration – that is a phrase usually associated with the track. But I kept muttering those words to myself while driving the new Audi S6, with its 420hp powerhouse and 550 Nm of torque. This is a car that belongs to the racetrack just as much it does on the road. Only, it’s perhaps too comfortable to keep you edgy enough on the track.
The exhilaration is accompanied by a poise that the Audi S6 maintains all through, even when you push it. More importantly, the car gives you immense confidence to push its limits and proves its point by living up to the challenge.
The Audi S6 comes with four driving modes: comfort, dynamic, efficient and auto, as well as the individual option where you can make up our own mix. Whichever combination you choose, it is gonna be a heady mix for the driver.
The real difference from the A6, and the previous S6 as well, is what’s under the bonnet. The naturally aspirated yet toned down 5.2 L V10 of the S6 has been replaced by an innovative 4.0 L TFSI engine, which produces 15 hp less than the V10 but has the extra torque and the advantage of a lighter car to bring up its 0-100 a whole second quicker. The use of aluminium that makes up 20% of its elegant body brings down the curb weight to a nimble 1895 kg!
When prodded into giving up its chivalrous A6 ways, the Audi S6 wakes up with such a growl that could alert the whole road for half a mile. And it also has the dexterity to disappear out of sight, even before your co-habitants on the road realize ‘what just snarled at them!’
The Audi S6 has sacrificed some of its gentle elegance for a sportier rumble and roll in the dynamic mode. It allows for some road noise and the ride is firmer, but that’s something you’ll gladly overlook when you squeeze 420 bhp through the throttle.
Yet, there was a high-octane surprise that was coming up in the Audi S6. Once topped up, the fuel meter in the V8 car showed an astounding 700+ km. My first reaction was “What – does it have a fuel tank out there in the place of a boot?” Well, the secret is simple – at least to explain! The new Audi S-family 4.0 L engine is a formidable eight-headed monster, with four heads sleeping on the more relaxed modes or once on a settled drive. Audi calls the technology ‘cylinder on demand’. To keep it going further, the Audi S6 also uses its fuel efficiency mode plus a start stop arrangement, which is not as irksome as it usually is – the car wakes up without keeping you waiting at signals.
For a car that costs 300K, the driver assist gadgetry in the Audi S6 isn’t as varied or comprehensive as its rivals. There is a nodding alarm for lazy or tired drivers. There is a good set of cornering lights, but that’s about it. But then, driver friendly side view mirrors actually don’t demand an intervention like a blind spot monitor. However, the Audi S6 does some handholding where it matters. The new, multi-view rear view camera and parking system is what I am talking about.
Especially because the new air suspensions of the Audi S6 bring down its height by a whole centimeter, the feature to raise or lower the chassis height is a thoughtful one. I ought to know, because I own a car with a clearance that could perhaps be employed by Dubai municipality to sweep our roads.
Surprisingly for a car that is rearing to go, power surges, torque steer or slip of any sort is largely absent in the S6. The traction control is in fact too efficient when it comes to taking tight corners or roundabouts, which restricts the possibility of slipping in with some extra throttling. Switching off the traction control marginally resolves this. That said, the new Audi S6 effortlessly comes to terms with sweeping curves, following the path of challenge without being forced into a quick compromise. And quick is what this car is, with a 0-100 rush bringing your blood to boiling point in 4.8 sec (test figure).
The design is deceptive at first look, similar to the elegant Audi A6. But if you look closely, the side skirtings, the double dual exhausts, the air vents and the grille are the differences apart from the S6 badge. The car definitely has become much sportier to look at, but even more so in the interiors.
Cabin and Controls
The interiors of the Audi S6 fetch classy carbon strips nicely angled out, which along with the black leather seats with diamond shaped cells stitched all over, give the car a very rich, luscious character.
The unique driver assist feature in this Audi is the excellent camera module, with the varied possibilities. It splices together distinct images for a 360º degree view of the surroundings, which puts your car in perspective. Besides side and corner views, it affords you a bird’s eye view with helpful guidelines. Seriously, you should be bird-brained to go wrong, even in tight parking spaces.
The car comes with a Bose stereo system that makes excellent music of anything you play. There is no touch screen but the Audi’s MMI that operates through a control knob on the central console and the surrounding select buttons in synch with the screen menu. No touch and go commands here. If the console leaves little free space, it’s because there is a handy one-touch Radio control button too. And in case you still wish for hands-free controls, the voice command operates the navigation and radio as well.
Despite the focus on its dark side, the S6 does its bit for families to put up with it. Despite its sporty pretensions, the dark leather seats are as comfortable as its executive counterpart, if not more. The rear brings up enough space for even tall passengers, provided for by a boot that is arguably the largest and the most convenient in the category, with its automatic tailgate opening.
When it comes to cabin storage, the Audi S6 has things admirably sorted out, right from the cup holders to the armrest compartment. The only negative is that the door-side storage is slightly shallow but there is an extra cubbyhole right under the dashboard, at the root of the central console.
The essential Audi S6
There is a difference between the show of muscle and the display of power. Consider the American cars with those imposing arches and menacing grunts. And consider this Audi that smoothly and subtly, for the most part, delivers its V8 ammo with that exciting eight-cylinder quiver. If you hate sporty pretensions and own up your penchant for superior comfort, Audi S6 is your chance to experience pulse-quickening speed and precise handling as a bonus package.
Drive Courtesy: Audi Volkswagen Middle East
Pictures: Sudeep Koshy