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Friday 30th June 2006

Audi S6

Nick Hall explores Audi's Lamborghini-engined über-saloon


Audi S6
Audi S6

Sitting in front of a 1950s Bugatti and a Ferrari Superleggera, it was a shock when camera-toting Italians swarmed our Audi S6. Maybe it was the novelty factor, maybe it was the sexy man in the driver’s seat, maybe it was the V10 engine revving freely as we got caught in the moment. But one girl even gave us the eye and a rather inviting “Ciao”.

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It was a strange day all round. We were in a line of competitors at Verona, in the Mille Miglia, an event for stunning machines of yesteryear, gunning the throttle on a car that has yet to hit the public road and winning over the fans. They know their cars, the Italians: the S6 is an almighty creation.

Now it isn’t the world’s most spectacular looker, but that’s the way they like it. Conservative design has long been a trademark and as BMW has gone to the flamboyant flame-surface effect, so Audi has picked up sales – it’s no coincidence.

Athletic and moody

The S6 is athletic and stays just the right side of bland thanks to those moody LED lights on the front end, deep and relatively ornate front spoiler, flared arches, elegant lip on the rear and stunning 19-inch wheels. Tick the carbon-fibre pack and you’ll get inserts under the LED, a new front splitter and rear apron. It might not sound a lot, but it adds that hint of aggression.

Aside from the hint at racing heritage, the interior is louder than the outside, festooned as it is with buttons, the multimedia Driver Information System and embroidered Alcantara and leather seats.

The Lamborghini touch

Most of the attention centres on the Lamborghini-sourced engine that also features in the S8, and rightly so. Audi hasn’t simply taken the five-litre V10 from the Gallardo and crowbared it into the engine bay, they’ve gone to work combining Italian power with German efficiency and installed FSI Direct Injection Technology. Oh, and they bored it out to 5.2 litres.

The end result is an engine with 435bhp and 398lb/ft of torque, enough to propel this über-saloon to 62mph in a spritely 5.2 seconds and on to an electronically limited 155mph.

Audi claims 90 per cent of the torque is available low down, but banzai overtaking moves to keep up with a specific car are par for the course on the Mille Miglia – a bizarre concoction of old race cars, mad members of the media and the general public – and the Audi always needed a downshift to truly find the power band and lunge past the car in front before the next tight bend. Truly believing the PR hype would have resulted in a head-on at least once and flattening the throttle with too few revs simply didn’t get things moving fast enough.

It’s not exactly lacking in torque, but most of the horsepower comes towards the 7,000rpm redline. Still, with a couple of dropped cogs this car picks up like a stabbed rat, which is amazing considering its 1,910kg weight. Keep the revs above 4,000 and this beast feels fast as anything you’ll ever need.

Quattro-ness

But the big Audis don’t sell on their straight-line capability, it’s all about that Quattro badge and ability to stick the ceiling if required – or at least hairpin bends for the pedantic forum members who haven’t grasped the concept of poetic licence yet.

Not being the biggest fan of four-wheel drive I wasn’t expecting miracles on the involvement front. And it’s true the S6 is more about despatching bends rather than the feel at the apex, but it’s more entertaining than it really should be. It can save your behind when a corner suddenly tightens in the wet on an Italian back road, too.

A self-locking diff sends 60 per cent of the drive to the rear and 40 to the front when everything is running smooth to keep the sporting rear-drive feel. But when the car is stretched beyond the normal limit the car can send 85 per cent to the rear wheels or 65 per cent to the front.

But you don’t really need to know that. All you really need to know is that unless you’ve completely taken leave of your senses with the entry speed, the car will take the bend. It corners flat, hard, and with a small tug on the wheel to load up the tyres it will fly through high-speed bends with the poise of a much lighter car. You can feel the power transferring in the slower corners, but chuck it in, hold the line and the S6 will just do it.

Options

And its high-speed cruising capability is second to none, after all these cars are built for the left lane of the Autobahn and there are two tonnes of metal to cosset you on your way. Intelligent gearing, with sixth proving something of an economy gear, even means the fuel consumption isn’t too crippling on a long run.

With a claimed figure of around 18mpg it’s not good and BP’s share  price will go up every time you slam on the accelerator, but driven with temperance this car won’t burn the First Class fare-size hole in your wallet that BMW’s M5 will leave and at British motorway speeds it’s relatively frugal. There are other advantages too.

There aren’t 300 levels of adjustability, either, instead the Audi comes with a few basic options, it can be automatic or manual, and soft or hard. That’s pretty much it, but they all work.

Audi has stuck with a Tiptronic six-speed box rather than create a manual and changes range from velvet smooth in the soft mode to instant and savage in sports mode. In soft automatic mode it’s a velvet carpet, in full bore manual, controlled by the de rigueur paddle shifts, changes are instant.

Ok so they might be 0.0001s slower than the M5, or something, but the human computer behind the wheel just isn’t fast enough to detect it and the Tiptronic seems best suited for this particular job.

Raising the game

Audi’s creation is the über-saloon for a more conservative, relaxed individual. It’s a real four-seater saloon car with serious pace when you need it, rather than a supercar draped in a saloon’s body. It’s horses for courses and the Audi isn’t as fast, but this one seems like the more sensible solution for this particular issue.

Of course the RS6 will raise the game to a whole new level, but if you want a fast saloon that covers all the bases, corners like a train and can swallow 1,000 miles in three days without inflicting spinal damage or emptying the wallet, this might just be the one to go for.

Pictures by Lyndon McNeil

Nick Hall
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Author Discussion

jimmyduk

Original Poster:

19 posts

112 months

[news] 
Friday 30th June 2006 quote quote all
I can not quite understand what's happening in the motor industry. The figures they are quoting don't seem to mean much these days. The 0-60 on these cars is fast enough for anyone and then they are limited. I cant see where the industry is going next, bigger engines in a saloon or family car? Whats the point if it is limited? There just becoming huge gas guzzlers surely? The A6 does look stunning though, inside and out.

r988

7,494 posts

115 months

[news] 
Friday 30th June 2006 quote quote all
article said:
1,910kg weight


Porktastic!
I guess the nearest competitor is the V10 M5, but it really is a class above the S6. But the next BMW along the line is the 550i which is outclassed by the S6 by as much as the S6 is outclassed by the M5.

Weight - point to M5
M5 1819kg
S6 1910kg

Power - point to M5
M5 500bhp
S6 435bhp

Price - point to Audi

M5 £65K
S6 £55K

0-60mph - point to M5

M5 0-60mpg 4.7sec
S6 0-60mph 5.2sec

M5 clear winner, at least until the real deal RS6 turns up to kick some butt.

morebeanz

3,124 posts

122 months

[news] 
Friday 30th June 2006 quote quote all
r988 said:
...until the real deal RS6 turns up to kick some butt.


Exactly! This is just the "warm" version!

I have a 3.0TDi version which is a fantastic car. If I could afford the fuel bills, I'd have one of these in a flash. In fact, in a year's time, once the RS has come out, I bet I might be able to pick up a bit of a bargain on one of these...

dinkel

22,491 posts

144 months

[news] 
Friday 30th June 2006 quote quote all
Nice piece Nick

Any chance on a Mille Miglia write up . . . with pics please?
That would really float my boat.

The M5 is the better looker . . . performance back to back is about the same . . . I guess the customer will try both of 'em, with an AMGed Merc to compare . . .

In the end the buyer wouldn't make a rational choice

ninjaboy

2,525 posts

136 months

[news] 
Friday 30th June 2006 quote quote all
God who would have though something with a Gallardo engine could look so dull
Advertisement

bogie

10,155 posts

158 months

[news] 
Friday 30th June 2006 quote quote all
cant wait to see the new RS6 - hope they stick a couple of blowers on the V10 and give us 550bhp + ...Id best be saving up for the Avant

Witchfinder

4,641 posts

138 months

[news] 
Friday 30th June 2006 quote quote all
Gods, 1900 Kg! Even the old S8 was only 1750 Kg, although that did have copious amounts of aluminium in it. Still, it's a sad sign of the times that everyone wants us to be fuel efficient, whilst legislating that cars must get heavier for safety reasons

bogie

10,155 posts

158 months

[news] 
Saturday 1st July 2006 quote quote all
I guess thats what a 5.2L V10 vs a 4.2 V8 does for you...its even heavier than my RS6 Avant ...and I guess thats why the performance is slower too even though its nearly got the same bhp

...it really needs a couple of turbos and 600bhp to liven it up

tuxman

8,172 posts

124 months

[news] 
Saturday 1st July 2006 quote quote all
one thing to remember the new S6 will murder a M5 in the wet ....which is a lot in this country !!!!

FestivAli

973 posts

124 months

[news] 
Saturday 1st July 2006 quote quote all
Best looking variant of the new A6 yet. detailing around the dials is a bit crap, but otherwise a yes from me. Why detune it from 500hp though? Surely if they kept it at 500, the RS6 could perhaps score the Murcielago LMP40 v12? (Optimistic approach here hehehe).

ALi.

dcb

4,745 posts

151 months

[news] 
Saturday 1st July 2006 quote quote all
jimmyduk said:

I can not quite understand what's happening in the motor industry.
The figures they are quoting don't seem to mean much these days.


How about a Werther's Original and a nice cup of tea ?

jimmyduk said:

The 0-60 on these cars is fast enough for anyone and then they are
limited.


Folks always want more. In reality, 250 kmh is quite fast enough for
a car, and it is the acceleration time from 0-200 kmh that matters.

jimmyduk said:

There just becoming huge gas guzzlers surely?


True, they are always keen to tell how how fast they go,
but in a true long journey, it's how often you fill up with
fuel that matters.

I rather suspect no one will get anywhere any faster in this Audi
than any other 250 kph limited saloon.


L100NYY

29,826 posts

129 months

[news] 
Saturday 1st July 2006 quote quote all
ninjaboy said:
God who would have though something with a Gallardo engine could look so dull


Ah now you see I think that's the whole point behind it. I for one love the fact that it looks like a standard A6 (which is a stunning loooking car anyway) and I guess for those that want a bit more of an in your face look then that's where the RS6 will step in.

This car really reminds me of the Lancia 8.32 in that it has an exotic engine in a sobre and understated saloon. Surely that's the best bit of a Q-car? It's something that really appeals to me about my XJR, it looks like any other Jaguar saloon but does 0-60mph in 5secs, perfection!

bogie

10,155 posts

158 months

[news] 
Saturday 1st July 2006 quote quote all
yep - thats the idea for me too - discreet, fast, Q car daily transport that I dont feel embarressed to turn up at a customers in i.e. not too flash ...but if the customer knows there cars then it turns into a talking point etc

Id be quite happy with a 550-600bhp RS6 Avant that looked nearly like a A6 3.0TDI

tasmania

779 posts

149 months

[news] 
Sunday 2nd July 2006 quote quote all
Hi,
Is the Author of the article, 'Nick Hall' of former TRW & Fame Acadamy reputation?
TaS
Garry

angrys3owner

15,812 posts

115 months

[news] 
Sunday 2nd July 2006 quote quote all
Think it's a great car, however it's pretty far from the Lambo engine and I wish it'd stop being described as such. It has different bore, stroke, injection system, cylinder spacing amoungst a lot of other things how much further does it need to be away from the Lambo to stop it being described as the lambo engine?

NickmHall

38 posts

132 months

[news] 
Monday 3rd July 2006 quote quote all
Guys

Have to clarify this once and for all, I am not the Nick Hall that went on Fame Academy. I don't even sing in the shower, it would be a crime against music, which doesn't stop most of the people that go on the show admittedly...

Bizarrely he comes from Birmingham too, lives about 5 miles away in fact, and we even bought a car from the very same place, but it is categorically not me! I kind of know what Mr Cowell would have to say in advance and really don't need that kind of public humiliation.

Cheers
Nick

manek

2,954 posts

170 months

[news] 
Monday 3rd July 2006 quote quote all
NickmHall said:
Guys

Have to clarify this once and for all, I am not the Nick Hall that went on Fame Academy. I don't even sing in the shower, it would be a crime against music, which doesn't stop most of the people that go on the show admittedly...

Bizarrely he comes from Birmingham too, lives about 5 miles away in fact, and we even bought a car from the very same place, but it is categorically not me! I kind of know what Mr Cowell would have to say in advance and really don't need that kind of public humiliation.

Cheers
Nick


Begs the question: what kind of public humilation DO you need, Nick?

adycav

7,615 posts

103 months

[news] 
Tuesday 4th July 2006 quote quote all
It looks very nice and all that, but what does it offer over a (cheaper) RS4?

dinkel

22,491 posts

144 months

[news] 
Tuesday 4th July 2006 quote quote all
Witchfinder said:
Gods, 1900 Kg!


Nobody complained about da 80s 500 / 560 Mercs. Khamsin and Spada weight about 1700 kgs . . . and that's without the safety and luxo bits.

Just live with the fact that modern cars like these are heavy . . .

www.autoblog.nl/archive/2006/06/05/audi-s6-video-review#post-5762

M5 slasher . . . ?

nickfrog

3,552 posts

103 months

[news] 
Tuesday 4th July 2006 quote quote all
tuxman said:
one thing to remember the new S6 will murder a M5 in the wet ....which is a lot in this country !!!!


Why ? Traction is only one aspect of the issue. I guess the M5 will have more cornering/lateral grip even in the wet, which may compensate. There won't be a massive difference in the right hands.
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